Richard Osburn says the most important duty of a county attorney is to work within the law to make our communities safe. What separates him from the other candidates in the race for Mille Lacs County Attorney is that he understands how the County's repeated challenges to the Mille Lacs Band's sovereignty have made all county residents less safe.
"County elected officials have had an unhealthy obsession with the Mille Lacs Band for a few decades," Richard said. "The first priority that I will have if elected will be to fix the relationship between the Band and the County."
A primary August 14 will narrow the field from three candidates to two. He is running against incumbent Joe Walsh and Jan Jude, who held the post until 2014. The two candidates with the highest vote totals in the primary will face off in the general election November 6.
"The law enforcement agreement allowed the Band to provide over 30 fully trained, qualified officers to patrol the north end of the county at no cost to the county," said Richard. "With the cancellation of the agreement, the county had to provide officers and had to cover any additional costs. Effectively, the residents of the north end of the county now have less enforce- ment, and the entire county is paying the costs. Any negative impacts of the cancellation fall on the county and the residents. Whatever authority the Band had before and during the agreement did not change with the cancellation. The county only hurt itself and the taxpayers with its action."
Veteran, Prosecutor, Judge
Osburn also has more breadth and depth of experience than his competitors. Walsh and Jude have worked in private practice and as county attorney. Richard has been a tribal prosecutor in Oklahoma, an assistant Mille Lacs Band Depu- ty Solicitor General, a Mille Lacs Band District Court Judge, and a Minnesota Unemployment Judge. He also served his country in the military.
Richard's second priority will be to review the status of all pending charges. "An overloaded docket is a waste of resourc- es," he said. "We will work to make sure that all pending cases are properly pursued."
His next priority will be to meet with and listen to the concerns of the constituents, whether they be residents or private or public entities. "If I am county attorney, everyone will be treated with equal respect and attentiveness," he said.
In summary, Richard said, "I am qualified to serve as the county attorney based on over 18 years of public service as a prosecutor or a judge. I have spent the last ten years listening to both sides of the argument and making the best deci- sion based on the facts and the law. I do not owe anyone any political favors. If I am county attorney, no one or entity will get special treatment or unfair treatment. I am committed to working with everyone who wants to make a positive change in the county. The voters can vote for more of the same type of behavior we have seen for years or the voters can vote for me and I will work towards making changes that benefit the county and the taxpayers."
Walsh and Jude — Opponents of Sovereignty
Walsh supported Mille Lacs County's decision to rescind its law enforcement agreement with the Mille Lacs Band. As a result, Mille Lacs Tribal Police officers have been unable to enforce Minnesota law on the reservation.
Although Tribal officers still enforce tribal law and are deputized by the BIA, Walsh and the County Board's decision to rescind the agreement, which had been in place since 1991, has severely hampered the Tribal Police Department's ability to keep Band members safe.
Walsh also attempted to turn other counties against Mille Lacs and other tribal police departments.
Jan Jude was also an opponent of the Band during her long tenure as Mille Lacs County Attorney. She opposed trust land applications and the Band's application for federal law enforcement help under the Tribal Law and Order Act. She repeatedly claimed that the 1855 Reservation had been disestablished.
Jude lost in a primary in 2014 to Walsh and Mark Herzing, and Walsh won the general election in November.
Jude had easily won elections in 2002, 2006, and 2010, but in 2013, Jude was investigated after an underage male nearly died of alcohol poisoning at a drinking party on her property, where she lived with her husband, former Tribal Police Investigator Russ Jude.
The Judes denied knowledge of underage drinking at the site a short distance from their home, although witnesses said dozens of youth were consuming alcohol while she and her husband were socializing with friends.
Jude was not formerly charged or convicted of any wrongdoing.
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