Updated Apr 13, 2021 - News

Kimberly Graham considering run for Polk County attorney

Kimberly Graham

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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