The term is four years with no term limit; compensation is $95,000 plus retirement and health benefits.
Why are you the best candidate for the office?
James P. “Jim” Schermetzler (R): Having been a Deputy County Attorney for the past 12 years, I know the “ropes” and the changes that need to be made to make the office more collaborative and efficient. I have established working relationships with people who work with the office. During my 38 years practicing law, I oversaw legal departments for five years, supervising up to seven employees. I have the well-rounded experience to be an effective administrator of the Office.
Peggy A. Trent (D): The roles of the County Attorney are to prosecute crimes and represent the County in legal matters. I have successfully prosecuted hundreds of cases including murder, sexual assault and domestic violence. I have extensive experience in civil law representing the State of Wyoming and multiple Wyoming municipalities. My civil experience includes leadership roles in economic development, real estate, and policy development for governmental agencies. I am prepared to implement a new direction for the office.
How would you facilitate effective communication between the County Attorney’s office and law enforcement agencies?
James P. “Jim” Schermetzler (R): I would do this by creating an atmosphere of openness by being available to dialogue. My approach begins with respect for the expertise of law enforcement officers. I will listen, allow give and take, give input not orders or terse responses. I know that successful prosecution requires a team effort. I will work with the sheriff and chiefs to build a team founded on collaboration, mutual respect and honest communication.
Peggy A. Trent (D): The Attorney’s Office must cease finger pointing, acknowledge their shortcomings, and work with law enforcement. This requires more involvement from law enforcement and stakeholders in the prosecution and prevention of crimes in our community. Regular meetings are needed between the Attorney’s and law enforcement offices to identify overarching issues and work towards solutions. Reports on prosecution (including juveniles) and outcomes must be shared publicly. Finally, we need joint training on current trends and best practices.
Is the current funding level adequate to support the activities of this office? Explain.
James P. “Jim” Schermetzler (R): I believe the current budget of $767,047 for fiscal year 2014-2015 is adequate to fund the office. This includes salaries for four Deputy County Attorneys and four support staff which is adequate. Realizing that the County has limited resources, I will manage the office in a prudent and transparent manner. I will work with the County Commissioners to tighten the process of approving vouchers for all departments to ensure that county resources are spent efficiently.
Peggy A. Trent (D): Yes. The current staff of nine is plenty: five attorneys, three legal assistants, and one office manager. The Office budget in 2013/2014 is $724,106.62. The budget approved for 2014/2015 is $767,047. Crime has decreased; yet the budget continues to increase. Restructuring the office operation will improve efficiency while improving services to the County. Partnerships with outside agencies will provide additional resources. I will move the Albany County Attorney’s Office in a new, fiscally responsible direction.