Experience counts in county attorney race

The race for Hennepin County Attorney offers an interesting contrast between two strong candidates. Sheryl Ramstad Hvass and Amy Klobuchar are vying to succeed former DFL gubernatorial candidate Mike Freeman as the county’s top lawyer. Although either candidate could fill the office adequately, Hennepin County’s first woman lead attorney should be Sheryl Ramstad Hvass.
In the past, Amy Klobuchar has focused her efforts on regulatory law during her work as a partner in two major law firms. She has litigated multi-million dollar lawsuits and furnishes this experience as evidence of her ability to run the county attorney’s office. She has already been endorsed by outgoing attorney Freeman, the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis and several labor unions.
Sheryl Ramstad Hvass formerly served as President of the Minnesota Bar Association, is a former judge and has served as both a public defender and federal prosecutor. Ramstad Hvass touts her experience in these positions as the best reason to vote for her. She has the endorsements of Hennepin County Sheriff Pat McGowan, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Deputies Association and the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, which endorsed both candidates.
Clearly, either candidate could fill the office, but a closer examination indicates that Ramstad Hvass is more qualified. She has built a career in the criminal justice system that includes the experience needed to be an effective Hennepin County Attorney. Her qualifications will immediately command respect within the office and give her the ability to easily assume its leadership. In the wake of Mike Freeman’s bid for governor, the county attorney’s office needs to be rejuvenated.
In contrast to Ramstad Hvass, Klobuchar lacks the practical experience that the Hennepin County Attorney should posses. In a career that has primarily consisted of civil litigation, she has had little experience with the bread and butter work of the attorney’s office, prosecuting criminals. Indeed, Klobuchar has prosecuted only six misdemeanor cases for the city of Minneapolis and no felonies. Last week Mike Freeman endorsed Charlie Weaver for state attorney general, citing the candidates experience as a prosecutor. Applying that same criteria to his own position, it would seem Freeman should have endorsed Ramstad Hvass. The leadership of the Hennepin County Attorney’s office is too important to be left to on-the-job-training.
Whatever the outcome, Hennepin County will find itself with an able lawyer to head its attorney’s office. The experience Ramstad Hvass brings to the table, however, makes her the better candidate at this point. She will be able to step in and immediately provide leadership in this important position. When casting their votes on Tuesday, students should choose Sheryl Ramstad Hvass for Hennepin County Attorney.