Hennepin County attorney candidate Mark Haase's first major campaign proposal released Monday focused on transparency, integrity and innovation.
"Everyone in Hennepin County should be able to make an informed decision on whether our criminal justice system is operating with integrity," he said.
Haase is running against incumbent Mike Freeman, who hasn't faced a challenger in 12 years. Haase won the DFL endorsement in June.
In the first release of a policy theme, Haase said he would establish a community advisory board to improve responses to sexual assault complaints and improve child protection practices and drug diversion programs. He'd also call upon the panel to address racial disparities.
To staff the panel, Haase said he'd bring in diverse members of the community, many with criminal justice expertise.
He would set up an "integrity review unit" that would have a broad mandate to review and redress claims of innocence, excessively punitive decisions and cases involving claims of police or prosecutorial misconduct.
A separate independent advisory panel also would give him recommendations on whether to charge police in use-of-force cases.
Haase's running a grass-roots campaign, knocking on doors to talk about issues and tap into what he believes is a "hunger for change."
Later this week, he's scheduled a gathering of sexual assault survivors to hear their ideas on how the office can be more responsive to complaints. Haase, 50, is the government relations director for Minnesota IT services at the state Department of Human Services. He has worked for years at the now-defunct Council on Crime and Justice and was the founding co-chair of the Minnesota Second Chance Coalition, a group that advocates for policy changes and helps people who have criminal records find jobs and integrate back into the community.
In two separate stints, Freeman, 70, has served 20 years — longer than any county attorney in Hennepin County history. His name is well-known, owing in no small part to his late father, Orville, who was a governor and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.