ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
After signaling for some time his intention to run for reelection,
Marion County Attorney Dan Baldwin formally filed by petition late
He will face challenger Susan Robson, Marion, in the Aug. 2 Republican
primary. No candidates have filed as Democrats.
Baldwin said the experience he acquired in his first term prompted him
to file for a second one.
?I have learned a lot over the past three and a half years,? he said.
?I have a fine staff in place that understands the systems. I?m
looking to capitalize on the opportunity of using the experience I
have gained over this time to better serve the county the next four
Baldwin received his undergraduate degree from Friends University in
1990 and his law degree from the University of Tulsa in 1993.
That same year, he moved to Marion to join what was known as the
Wheeler & Wheeler law office. He continues to hold an associate?s
position at the David W. Wheeler law office.
Baldwin was elected Marion County attorney in 1996. The previous two
years, the office was managed on an interim basis by area attorneys.
?Immediately, I recognized what the job was going to take,? he said.
?It?s taken some time and some effort because of the way budgets work,
and those kind of things. But I have committed myself to making this a
Baldwin said the caseload has increased during his time in office, not
so much because crime has increased in Marion County but because of
the professional work of county law enforcement officers.
Baldwin said his office has been involved in 200 or more adult
criminal cases?including felony and misdemeanor?in each of the
previous three years. He has averaged 93 juvenile cases a year over
the same period.
The number of traffic-related cases, including infractions, DUIs and
Kansas Parks and Wildlife tickers, has decreased each of the three
years he has been in office, from 1,407 in 1997 to 782 in 1999.
?The increased caseload is manageable because I have used a variety of
prosecution tools to address specific types of cases,? he said. ?For
example, I focus primarily on providing restitution to merchants in my
prosecution of bad checks.?
He also feels good about the diversion program he has developed.
?I use a diversion program to remove certain qualified cases from
traditional prosecution,? he said.
He says diversion has been used on only 9 percent of the adult
criminal cases that have come to his office, and that those cases have
involved offenders of various ages and economic levels.
?I believe it is unrealistic to expect that every case should be taken
forward as an aggressive prosecution,? Baldwin said. ?It takes fair
judgment to realize that some crimes are worse than others, and it
takes contact and discernment to understand which criminal defendant
needs to be treated aggressively and which does not.?
Baldwin said his approach to case management has enabled him to
initiate ?outreach? work, such as the recent formation of the Marion
County Abuse Team composed of representatives from area law
enforcement and social services.
?That is very pleasing to me,? he said.
He said his frequent communication with county law enforcement
agencies and school administrators, counselors and teachers has also
given him a good grasp of school issues such as truancy and offenses.
?I think the job is really about balance,? Baldwin said. ?You have
budgetary constraints and the constraints of the judicial system. I
think I?ve really struck a balanced between all those things and I
think I have a smooth operation of things.?
Baldwin and his wife, Laura, have three sons: Isaac, 5, Jacob, 3, and
Nathan, 1. They live in the old Evangelical United Brethren church
building, which t
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF