The term is four years with no term limit; compensation is $95,000 plus retirement and health benefits.
- What are your qualifications for the office you seek? (75 words)
Tony S. Lopez (D): I moved to Laramie in 1978 to attend law school after serving as an officer in the U.S.M.C. for almost four years. My first legal job in 1983 was as a Deputy County Prosecutor. After 18 months I joined George Zimmers and for 28 years had a private practice-, primarily criminal defense, domestic law and personal injury litigation. I was the City Court Judge from Sept 2007 to March 2013.
Joshua J. Merseal (R): I have been working for the Albany County Attorney's Office since February, 2009. I started as an intern and was hired as an attorney in September, 2010. I have prosecuted hundreds of cases and tried approximately 100 bench and jury trials. I received extensive leadership training in both the US Marine Corps and US Army. I work well with other agencies and can communicate effectively with other agencies.
James P. “Jim” Schermetzler (R): I have 38 years experience as an attorney, including 16 years as a prosecutor, (12 in Albany County), five as in-house counsel for Wyoming banking organizations, and 17 years in private practice, (10 in Wyoming). I managed my own practice for eight years and a legal department for banking organizations for five years, with as many as seven employees. I have the well rounded experience necessary to be an effective Albany County Attorney.
Peggy A. Trent (D): My extensive experience in criminal and civil law. I was Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in Columbus, Ohio for nine years prosecuting murders, sex offenders, thieves, and financial crimes, and served as Assistant Wyoming Attorney General for four years representing the DFS and DOC. I was Laramie City Attorney for four years and currently represent governmental entities including Douglas, Hanna, and Ivinson Hospital District. I’ve taught college classes for 14 years in criminal justice and local government.
- How would you foster communication and coordination between the County Attorney and law enforcement agencies? (100 words)
Tony S. Lopez (D): I have known both the Sheriff and the Chief of Police for 30 years. If elected, they and their entire staff know that I will always be available. If we have a problem, we can discuss the issue and attempt to resolve it professionally. I won't hold a grudge if they tell me I'm the dumbest SOB ever elected. All I will ask is they do it in a way I haven't heard before.
Joshua J. Merseal (R): By being elected. I don't mean that as an arrogant statement. Before I announced my candidacy, I spoke to the heads of all of the local law enforcement agencies. I have good relationships with all the agencies. I have been prosecuting their cases for five years. We work well together. We communicate and coordinate efficiently. I view the relationship between the County Attorney's Office and law enforcement agencies as one of mutual support. We are all cogs in a machine. Each entity performs their designated role with the goal of fostering safety in Albany County.
James P. “Jim” Schermetzler (R): I will do this by continuing and expanding my approach of the past 12 years. It begins with realizing that prosecution is a team effort. Law enforcement officers have expertise that attorneys do not have. Through better cooperation, we will together achieve better conviction results. It is an approach of being available, listening and giving advice not orders or terse responses, and allowing give and take. If elected I will expand this approach to the entire staff. I will work with the sheriff and chiefs to provide an atmosphere of collaboration, something they have indicated they would welcome.
Peggy A. Trent (D): To strengthen communication the Albany County Attorney’s Office must cease finger pointing, acknowledge their shortcomings, and work together as a team. 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 two entities to identify overarching issues, and work towards solutions and protocols for the future. There must be dissemination of reports on prosecution (including juveniles) and outcomes to foster public involvement. Finally, there needs to be joint training to ensure both law enforcement and Attorney’s staff has access to best practices and current information.
- What are the two greatest opportunities or challenges facing the County Attorney’s Office and what changes would you make to address these in the coming four years? (100 words)
Tony S. Lopez (D): The biggest challenges are restoring the confidence in the Prosecutors office to do the job and being open and approachable to all the citizens of the county. Better preparation and training for the lawyers and an open door policy for the public. We are elected to be a public servant.
Joshua J. Merseal (R): First, the degradation of trust in our office has to be addressed. If elected, I will run the office with transparency. I will answer any questions that I am able to, by any member of the public. If Albany County wants to know what is going on in the office, simply ask and get a straight answer. Second, I will work to restore relationships with other departments. We are a team. I believe that by creating an environment of mutual trust and respect the County Attorney's office will be better able to serve Albany County.
James P. “Jim” Schermetzler (R): I have the opportunity to restore confidence in the office by fostering cooperation with elected officials, as well as law enforcement and other agencies. By being available and responsive, I can improve results and better serve the citizens of Albany County. I also have the opportunity to continue the improvement of Juvenile Justice by working to establish a Community Juvenile Services Board and a Child Protection Team. This will improve the delivery of services to youth and families by coordinating the efforts of the Department of Family Services, Public Health, School District, law enforcement, mental health providers and youth organizations.
Peggy A. Trent (D): The County Attorney has lost an incredible number of trials, plea bargaining all too frequently. In response, I will assign two lawyers to each jury trial case to obtain more successful outcomes and improve charging decisions. Also, I will employ a collaborative approach to involve the victims more. Second, the Attorney’s staff has not pursued innovative ways to reduce the number of juveniles being charged as adults for lower level violations. I will work with local agencies to reduce this number. However, I will be firm in those rare, but serious, cases when children need to be tried as adults.