Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Council Member LaTrisha Vetaw on Sunday endorsed former judge Martha Holton Dimick for Hennepin County attorney, citing her varied professional background and experience living on the city's North Side.
"We need a Hennepin County attorney who will be a true partner to our residents, both allowing for diversion opportunities when possible and prosecution when necessary," Frey said at a news conference outside the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis.
"We know that far too often we have residents, whether on the North Side or the South Side of our city, that are scared. They want to make sure the perpetrators of these violent crimes are held accountable."
"Public safety is not a political slogan for me," Holton Dimick said. "As a community prosecutor and as a violent crimes judge, it was my profession. And as a North Sider, someone who has dealt with the effects of the rise in violent crime in my community, it's my life."
Holton Dimick, who retired Jan. 1 to join the county attorney race, would be Minnesota's first Black county attorney if elected. She is one of seven candidates vying to replace Mike Freeman, who will retire at the end of the year after a total of 24 years as county attorney, including 16 years since 2007. The top two finishers in the Aug. 9 primary will advance to the general election in November.
Holton Dimick had a winding path before Gov. Mark Dayton named her to the Fourth Judicial District bench in 2012. Once a single mother working two nursing jobs, she graduated from Marquette University Law School and practiced law in the Twin Cities before she was hired in 1999 by then-Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar as the North Side's first community prosecutor, working with police and residents to improve public safety. She also has served as deputy city attorney for Minneapolis.
Holton Dimick lives in the city's Willard-Hay neighborhood, where she said she has dealt with everything from car jackings on her block to a drug house next door. When she left the county attorney's office in 2009, she said, there were seven homicides in north Minneapolis; last year there were 46.
"Martha is a North Sider," said Vetaw, who represents part of north Minneapolis. "That means a great deal to me. She understands that what's happening is right outside of her door."
Holton Dimick pointed out that she, like most north Minneapolis residents, voted against the ballot measure to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety that would emphasize a public health approach to policing.
"Safety and security are fundamental to a vibrant community," she said. "What I've learned in over 25 years in public service: If you want to make real change, you need the support of your justice partners. For a county attorney, that means working with mayors, police chiefs, communities, and the attorneys in the office."
Also Sunday, the political committee All of Mpls endorsed House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler for county attorney, citing his work on cannabis legalization, public safety and racial discrimination in the criminal justice system.