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The county attorney is on the ballot this year in Dakota County, the first time the race has been contested since 1994. We’ve asked the candidates a series of questions to see where they stand on the issues. We’ll share one question and the responses at a time leading up to the general election on November 8. See our 2022 voter’s guide for more.
Previously we asked about guiding philosophy, criminal justice reform, public safety, mental health, and abortion. This time we’re asking about drug policy.
What needs to change about how the county attorney approaches drug policy?
Here are the candidates’ responses:
Editor’s note: Kathy Keena opted not to answer our questions and instead submitted the following note. (She did answer most of our questions during the primary.)
First let me thank you for contacting me regarding the questions for the West St. Paul Reader.
That being said, my position as the Dakota County Attorney and the Oath of Office which I swore to uphold, require that my positions on matters of legislation and the law remain non-partisan. I truly believe that justice can only be served fully and appropriately by remaining such. Therefore, I cannot in good conscience answer your questionnaire.
As the Dakota County Attorney, I must support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Minnesota. In that role, one of my primary responsibilities is to oversee the appropriate enforcement of constitutionally sound laws enacted by our state legislature and to seek justice for victims. I believe that the people of Dakota County expect this and will accept nothing less than objectivity, fairness and equity in carrying out the duties of the office. Anything else is partisanship and visual bias.
Thank you to your readers for their understanding.
Minnesota state law charges possession of more than 42.5 grams of marijuana as a felony, punishable by serious jail time. But any smaller amount is only a ticket. Unfortunately, this kind of wildly inconsistent approach, which veers irrationally between extremely severe to extremely lenient, wastes valuable resources on nonviolent offenders while draining time and money that should be spent prosecuting violent crimes and dangerous drugs, such as methamphetamine
spreading through our County.
Taxpayer dollars should not be used to charge or lock up non-threatening individuals for mere possession of marijuana, while the presence of far more dangerous substances and crimes continues to grow. We should focus our limited tax dollars where they will keep our community safe. Matt will raise the amount for what constitutes a felony charge for marijuana possession, and will advocate for comprehensive reform of Minnesota’s marijuana laws. Most people understand there are real differences between average use, and criminal organizations selling illegal drugs as part of wider criminal activities. Matt will prosecute major, predatory drug dealers, and cartel members to the fullest extent of the law.
In addition, expunging minor marijuana possession convictions from records is also key to keeping citizens in the workforce, and paying taxes instead of costing taxpayer dollars in jails or prisons. This issue will only increase in importance as Dakota County and Minnesota continue to debate further legalizing the use of marijuana, which is now legal for personal use in 19 other
Vote on November 8
The general election is on Tuesday, November 8. Learn more about where and how to vote. You can also vote early with an absentee ballot, either by mail or by stopping at the Dakota County offices.
See our 2022 voter’s guide for more on the candidates and other races.
Thank you to the candidates for taking the time to respond to our questions.
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If you are going to talk about drug policy why do you limit the discussion to marijuana? I am not too concerned about pot (although I tell my grandchildren to stay away) but I am very concerned about fentanyl. Over 100,000 Americans will die from fentanyl overdoses in a given year. I want our county attorney to aggressively pursue the criminals who peddle lethally dangerous drugs.