Campaign 2016: Ingham County Prosecutor race

(WLNS) – It’s a race garnering attention for several reasons.

It’s a position that was held by Stuart Dunnings III for nearly two decades but Dunnings ultimately left the office in a shocking scandal.

And now two women believe they are the best choice to take over.

Meaning with this race there is one sure thing already: No matter what the outcome Ingham County will see it’s first ever elected female prosecuting attorney.

It’s a historic race in Ingham County between Billie Jo O’Berry and Carol Siemon with both vying to become the first woman elected to lead the county’s prosecutor’s office.

“Law is what I do, it’s what I know. It’s what I’ve practiced at, it’s what I’m experienced in,” said Republican candidate Billie Jo O’Berry.

“The aspects that I think helped me as a prosecutor was having a tempered compassion, the ability to listen to all of the different parties in the system,” said Democrat candidate Carol Siemon.

Both Siemon and O’Berry actually started their careers in the prosecutor’s office more than 20 years ago but their paths differ from there.

O’Berry went on to private practice and then the Lansing city attorney’s office where she’s worked for the last 19 years.

Siemon spent time at the Michigan Prosecuting Attorneys Association and working with state government.

All along the way she says she’s been inspired by social justice. “I realized that we needed a voice for the victims and that’s what originally drew me to prosecution,” said Siemon.

O’Berry also wants to help those who’ve been wronged. “All too often we have victims that walk away totally dissatisfied with the judicial system. They feel that they’ve been further victimized by the system.”

While both plan to fight for guilty verdicts “for the guilty” neither believes prosecuting a case should be just about “the win”.

O’Berry says “we want to get to the truth. I don’t want my office to win because we’ve held back information or because there is a loophole we can use against the defense.”

“If I learned that there is something that would tend to show the defendant really isn’t the person that committed the crime or there are pieced of information the defense attorney should have, I absolutely believe it’s critical to divulge that,” replies Siemon.

And as they hope to hit the ground running, both have a plan to restore trust in the office tainted by scandal.

“If you’re going to be a mentor and a guide and a moral compass, then you have to be interacting with people you have to know what’s going on,” said Siemon. “Not every single case but you have to have a sense. You also have to be someone people feel they have access too and can trust.”

“Transparency is of the utmost importance,” concludes O’Berry. “We want people to know that we are there to serve them and we’re all on the same team.”

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