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Kimberly Graham, a Des Moines attorney known for her recent Senate campaign, announced she's launching an exploratory committee to potentially run for Polk County attorney.

Why it matters: The office has the power to decide when to enforce and prosecute local and state laws. It's been held by John Sarcone, another Democrat, for 30 years.

The state of play: Sarcone's office has faced scrutiny since he decided to uphold criminal charges against Register reporter Andrea Sahouri, who was arrested while covering a BLM protest last year. A jury found her not guilty.

Graham said she's taking her playbook from a wave of progressive prosecutors — like Suffolk County Attorney Rachel Rollins — who are foregoing prosecuting low-level crimes in favor of more mental health and drug treatment.

  • "It's past time to reimagine public safety," Graham said.

Between the lines: Des Moines tried decriminalizing marijuana possession last summer following expert recommendations, but it fell short as key officials, including Police Chief Dana Wingert, withheld their backing.

  • But under Graham's proposed approach, she said officers may be less likely to make arrests if they know prosecution is unlikely.

The big picture: Graham said she hopes this will reduce the disproportionate number of people of color who are incarcerated, while also getting residents the help they need.

Sarcone has not publicly shared if he plans on seeking re-election.

What's next: Graham said she will share in June if she's planning on running.

This story first appeared in the Axios Des Moines newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

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Go deeper

Apr 12, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Big events are returning to Des Moines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Concerts, sporting events and conventions are returning, pushing hotel bookings up since the darkest days of the pandemic, officials reported to Polk County supervisors last week.

  • Hundreds of metro area events were canceled during the pandemic, an economic hit of more than $317 million, Greg Edwards, CEO of the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau said.

Why it matters: Both jobs and our overall quality of life depend on a successful recovery — but we're not out of the woods just yet.

3,000 unruly passengers reported to FAA this year

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Airlines have reported some 3,000 cases of unruly behavior by passengers to the Federal Aviation Administration this year — including 2,300 for refusing to comply with face mask mandates, the FAA announced Monday.

Why it matters: Passenger numbers remain below pre-pandemic levels. But the FAA is investigating the highest number of suspected federal law violations since it began recording unruly passenger incidents in 1995, per ABC News.

House panel to investigate Trump-era DOJ data seizures

Photo: James Devaney via Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee will launch a formal probe into the Trump-era Justice Department's seizure of data from devices belonging to members of Congress, their aides, journalists and then-White House counsel, panel chair Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) announced Monday.

Why it matters: Though it's so far unclear if the cases are related, they raise "serious constitutional and separation of power concerns," Nadler said in a statement.