Scott County candidate's out-of-county home shouldn't matter, he says

  • Article by: PAT PHEIFER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 27, 2014 - 9:31 PM

Candidates for Scott County attorney both claim deep roots there, but one just recently moved to a home in the county.

Jim Terwedo says he’s the right person to be the next Scott County attorney because he’s been a lifelong resident of the county. He’s interacted with the county’s residents at church festivals, fairs and soup suppers. He’s done the job before, from 1987 to 1994.

Ron Hocevar says he’s more qualified for the job even though he lived in Eden Prairie — in Hennepin County — before moving to a rented home in Prior Lake on July 1.

After all, he said, he’s worked for the County Attorney’s Office for 17 years, including 15 as chief deputy. He’s prosecuted everything from trespassing cases to the first Craigslist killing in the country.

Terwedo says:

“It’s not just showing up and saying I’m a resident today. You’ve got to really know the people of Scott County, know what they like, what their expectations are.

“When you’re driving from Eden Prairie and back to Shakopee again, it’s almost like a person who lives here in Shakopee and drives to downtown Minneapolis. Should that person be mayor of Minneapolis?”

Hocevar says:

“You can’t question my commitment to Scott County. Just because he [Terwedo] has coffee with people in the morning does not make him a leader. I’m in the courthouse. I’m trying the rape cases. I’m trying the murder cases. I’m the one that has daily contact with all the law enforcement and detectives in this jurisdiction.

“I’m the one dealing with the problems. He’s walking around talking about them with a cup of coffee.”

Two different men. Two different styles. It’s shaping up to be an interesting race to be the chief prosecutor in a county with a population of about 135,000 residents.

Terwedo, 56, mentions among his credentials for county attorney that his birthplace was New Prague (Scott County), and he’s operated a general law practice and owned a home in Jordan (also Scott County) for 2½ decades. He does everything from real estate to criminal defense, child support and divorce — “stuff that’s really important to the people of our community,” he said.

He took a swipe at County Attorney Pat Ciliberto, who decided not to seek re-election, and laterally at Hocevar, over Ciliberto twice suing the County Board over salary disputes.

“When you sue the county, you’re suing the taxpayers,” Terwedo said. “If you have a good relationship [with the County Board], you shouldn’t have to worry about suing the county for a pay increase.”

He’s been on the county’s Fair Board for 15 years, including 10 as president, and was headed to the fair shortly after talking to a reporter by phone last week.

Hocevar, 50, was at the fair when reached on his cellphone. It’s not about where you live, he said, it’s about how you do your job.

“My commitment to Scott County is 17 years of service,” Hocevar said. “I was willing to uproot my family and move there because I think I’m the best man for the job.

“I currently live further from the county seat than I did when I lived in Eden Prairie,” he said. “People move for their jobs every day.”

As for Ciliberto’s lawsuits, the first of which also sought a pay increase for the supervisors in the office: “I wasn’t involved one bit. He [Ciliberto] didn’t get increases from that lawsuit.”

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