Editor’s Note: One in a series of election stories.
Incumbent Brian Kuester is being challenged in the June 24 primary in his re-election bid for district attorney in District 27 by Anne Mize.
The race will be decided June 24, as Kuester and Mize are the only candidates who are seeking the post. Both are Republicans.
District 27 includes Cherokee, Wagoner, Sequoyah and Adair counties.
Kuester said he believes public safety should be the priority of the district attorney’s office.
“That’s always the No. 1 issue. It should be,” Kuester said. “It has been in District 27 for the past three and a half years, and will continue to be the most urgent or pressing issue.”
Mize, however, said she considered the most pressing issue to be the office’s “lack of communication.”
She said members of several law enforcement agencies had told her that they do not receive calls back from the district attorney’s office and also have difficulty receiving information about the status of cases.
The candidates also have ideas about moving cases through the court system more efficiently.
“I believe we have done a very good job of moving cases through the system very efficiently in the last three and a half years,” Kuester said, adding that he is planning to use technology to change the way case information is transferred from law enforcement agencies to the district attorney’s office.
At present, members of law enforcement must deliver case information to the district attorney’s office. Kuester said plans are under way to make it possible for law enforcement to upload information digitally. Some information must still be hand-delivered “because there must be a discussion,” he said. But for the reports that can be uploaded electronically, “it will be a more efficient way of delivering investigations,” he said.
Communication between staff and attorneys is important, Mize said. Wagoner and Cherokee counties have the most filings, and the two counties will need more focus.
“But it is a four-county district,” she said.
Mize said it is important for the district attorney to be updated weekly about all four counties and to “have good staff to keep you up to date.” She said communication between staff and attorneys is important, because they know what their district needs.
“It’s very much a team effort,” she said. “It has to be a team effort in the whole district.”
Kuester said he believes he is the most qualified candidate because he is the only candidate with law enforcement experience and felony prosecution experience. He added that he is the only candidate who “has proven results as to what experience, hard work and integrity can actually accomplish.”
Mize said she is most qualified because she has the ability to lead. She also cited her master’s degree in business administration.
She said she has the principles to lead an office this size, and said it is “kind of like operating a law firm that has four different offices.” One office is not any more important than the other, and the right people have to be cooperating, she said.
Mize added that she has witnessed “every single side” of the judicial process, and “I know how it should work.”
Reach Anita Reding at (918) 684-2903 or email@example.com.