Rubin holds early lead in county attorney raceUPDATE: Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin opened an early lead over his boss, Melanie Ford, with 22 of 178 precincts reporting in the race for county attorney by 9:30 p.m.
By: Mark Stodghill, Duluth News Tribune
Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin opened an early lead over his boss, Melanie Ford, with 22 of 178 precincts reporting in the race for county attorney by 9:30 p.m. today.
All of the precincts reporting were in Duluth with Rubin holding a 10,281 to 8,187 lead over Ford.
In one of the hardest-fought county races in decades, and one of the biggest political upsets, Ford won the position in 2006 after a recount showed she defeated longtime incumbent Alan Mitchell by fewer than 80 votes.
It remained to be seen tonight how close the race for the position will be, but Assistant Rubin is not considered as big an underdog as Ford was four years ago.
Rubin gained the support of law enforcement and many of his colleagues in his office in challenging his boss for the St. Louis County attorney’s job.
Rubin, 56, the son of a meat-cutter and a stay-at-home mom, has been an assistant St. Louis County attorney since 1978, except for a two-year stint as an associate in a private law practice in Duluth from 1987-89. He’s a graduate of Morgan Park High School, the College of St. Scholastica and Hamline University School of Law.
Ford, 55, of Normanna Township, has a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from Concordia College in St. Paul and a law degree from William Mitchell. She previously had a private law practice in Duluth and, before that, was an assistant St. Louis County Attorney.
While campaigning, Rubin said his priority as county attorney would be to continue to hold criminals accountable for their crimes, collaborating with law enforcement professionals to keep communities safe.
Rubin was endorsed by the St. Louis County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association Local 288, the Chisholm Police Union Local 108, the St. Louis County Attorneys and Investigators Local 3761 and others. Assistant county attorneys in Ford’s office were critical of her saying she was more concerned with her public image than the people doing their jobs in her office.
Rubin’s supporters included St. Louis County Sheriff Ross Litman, state Rep. Roger Reinert, former Duluth Mayor Gary Doty and former Duluth Police Chiefs Eli Miletich, Scott Lyons and Roger Waller.
Ford had plenty of support from a random selection of voters polled earlier today.
“I came down for Ford. I know that she comes across as tough and serious, which doesn’t rub some people the right way. But a man might not be any better,” said Julie Jeatran of Lincoln Park/West End.
“I voted for Ford, because she has been in office and seems to be doing a good job,” said Frank Pozeja of Lincoln Park.
“I voted for Ford, because she’s been county attorney for a while now, and I feel she’s done a pretty good job. Why not have her continue?” asked David Wood of Lincoln Park.
Steve Gregorich, voting at West Duluth’s City Center West, said he voted for Melanie Ford because of her open-mindedness.
“I think she’s tolerant; I think she’s steady; I think she’s focused,” he said.
Mike Esler, voting at West Duluth’s City Center West, said he chose Rubin. He knew him as a student when he worked at Morgan Park High School, he said.
“He seems like a decent guy,” he said. “I haven’t heard what Ford has done in office, but I have heard a lot about what Rubin has accomplished.”
Rubin was a founder of the First Witness Child Abuse Resource Center, and he drafted and implemented protocols the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office still follows when interviewing juvenile assault victims. He has worked closely with the Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault, helping to train new advocates. He represents the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office on the Sexual Assault Multi-Disciplinary Response Team. He has worked with the Battered Women’s Coalition and Safe Haven Shelter, drafting and implementing the first Domestic Abuse Prosecution Protocol for the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office.
Ford campaigned on the theme that she worked to ensure justice for all and advocated for resources to keep the county and its citizens safe, hold offenders accountable and protect taxpayers from legal liability. She said she sought a second term because she felt she had much yet to accomplish.
She said she was building partnerships to keep kids in school and helped create a culture where missing school is not an option. She said she would continue to engage community members and system professionals to implement appropriate alternatives to detention.
Ford said the community must address and implement solutions to racial disparities in the justice system and eliminate recidivism among offenders of sexual and domestic violence.
The county attorney serves as both legal authority for all county government business and as the county’s chief prosecutor of criminals. The position pays about $120,000. The attorney oversees a $6.8 million budget and leads a staff of 67 people divided into four divisions: criminal, civil, social services and victim/witness services. Offices are in the Duluth, Virginia and Hibbing courthouses.