MAQUOKETA, Iowa— A former county attorney will challenge Jackson County’s incumbent for the position in this fall’s election.

John Kies, currently an assistant county attorney in Clinton County, recently announced he would run for the Jackson County position, while current Jackson County Attorney Sara Davenport plans to run for another four-year term.

The general election is Nov. 8, and the filing period for county seats runs from March 7 to 25. In addition to the county attorney, the Jackson County recorder, treasurer and two county supervisor seats will be on the ballot this fall.

The Telegraph Herald spoke with both county attorney candidates regarding their backgrounds and goals if elected.

SARA DAVENPORT

A Democrat, Davenport has served as county attorney since 2012. She said she has advocated to ensure quality judicial services remain available to residents of the smaller, rural county.

Recently, she also started emphasizing communication with victims to let them know their options in the legal process.

“My priority within my office is to make a better effort at communicating with victims from the very beginning,” she said.

Davenport described her approach as a prosecutor as rehabilitative rather than punitive.

“Obviously, with victim cases, the victim needs to be made whole as well,” she said. “But the ultimate goal is that (defendants) become productive members of society instead of continuing in this cycle of criminal behavior.”

For defendants charged with driving with a barred license, for example, her office gives them time to get it reinstated and amends the charge to a nonmoving violation if they are successful.

This can help defendants avoid missing work or losing a job due to lack of transportation.

JOHN KIES

A Republican, Kies served as the Jackson County attorney from 2000 to 2006. He then ran a private law practice from 2007 to 2019 before joining the Clinton County Attorney’s Office.

If elected as Jackson County attorney, Kies pledged to work with the sheriff and local police to take a firm stance on prosecuting crimes such as burglary and trespassing, as well as drug deals and intoxicated driving.

“I am someone who believes that there should be consequences for bad behavior,” he said, later adding, “If people who commit these kinds of crimes know there are going to be quick consequences, that can prevent crimes from occurring in the first place.”

Kies also would like to see a drug court program brought to Jackson County, similar to those that currently operate in Dubuque and Scott counties.

“The drug scourge isn’t going away, and ignoring it is only going to make things worse,” he said. “ … If we can be proactive, we can protect neighborhoods and preserve property values.”

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