Q-and-A with Scott County Attorney Candidate: Alumnus Ron Hocevar
Address: Prior Lake
Family: Married to Marci for 28 years; children Isabella, 16, and Dominic, 14; Sherlock, 4 (English Springer Spaniel).
Employment: Scott County Attorney, elected in 2014-present.
Education: University of North Dakota for undergrad and law school; Naval Justice School.
Hobbies/interests: Coaching and watching my kids youth sports; Hockey; Hunting; Fishing; Flying; Traveling.
Previous experience: Following law school, I was a Judge Advocate General (JAG) for the U.S. Navy representing service members at Courts Martial. After active duty, I remained in the Reserves and retired after 20 years of service. Following my active duty, I was hired by the Scott County Attorney’s Office and have been with the office for over 20 years. I was then promoted to Criminal Division Head, then Chief Deputy, and after the previous County Attorney retired, I ran for County Attorney and was thankfully elected to my present position. I have tried everything from traffic violations, to criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, to first degree pre-meditated murder. I continue to try cases in my current position.
Contact info: Ronhocevarcampaign@gmail.com
Why do you want to serve as Scott County Attorney?
I love my job and serving our great community. I am committed to our community, public safety, law enforcement, and providing the safest community for us all. I am committed to public service. Following my Navy active duty as a JAG Officer, I desired to remain in public service and was hired by the Scott County Attorney’s Office. I know that continuing to serve as the County Attorney is the best way I can serve our community and fight for its safety. I am a part of the community. My family lives in Prior Lake. I am a member of Prior Lake Rotary, the Prior Lake Chamber of Commerce, and I routinely do talks at schools and various organizations on the dangers of teen sexting, drugs, human trafficking and am a speaker for Anti-Child Trafficking United. Through my office’s Choose Not to Use organization, we educate primarily youth on the dangers of drugs.
What are the top three issues facing the county, in your view, and how would you address them?
From the County Attorney’s Office perspective: Drugs, mental health, rising crime/severity of crimes. The three cannot be separated from one another. The number of overdoses from fentanyl is increasing. My office has been able to charge drug dealers with murder in the third degree for providing the drugs that resulted in an overdose death. I will continue to be aggressive in charging drug dealers.
Mental health is a huge concern. My office has three murder cases right now whose defendants have had forensic psychological evaluations deeming them incompetent. A big step in addressing this was a bill passed this past spring which will provide funds for expanded mental health services to defendants deemed incompetent to stand trial. Also established is a State Competency Restoration Board that will hire “forensic navigators” that will coordinate mental health services to defendants deemed incompetent to stand trial. Additionally, under my administration, a Treatment Court and Veteran’s Court were established to help people with addiction issues while still holding them accountable for their crimes. These specialty courts have mental health services built into them.
Would you support the state legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes?
Whether I support it or not is irrelevant to the position of the Scott County Attorney. Once I was elected, I took an oath to uphold and enforce the laws of the State of Minnesota — whether I agree with them or not. If I had the power myself, there are several laws I would enact or change but I am the Executive Branch sworn to enforce the laws passed by the legislature and signed into law by the governor. What happens to too many county attorneys and district attorneys across the nation is that once they take office, they think they are all three branches of government, free to do what we want — we are not. We are sworn to uphold the law. If marijuana is legalized, my office will adapt accordingly, just as we have with the recent legalization of certain hemp products.
Describe your leadership style:
My leadership style is to lead by example. I have handled issues across every practice area in this office, whether it be criminal law, children in need of protection or services, juvenile law, contracts and child support. I hire professional, competent people and provide the guidance and resources for them to be successful. My prosecutors know the breadth of experience I have in this office and trust I am not asking them to do something I haven’t done myself. I love being personally in the office and it is rare that I am not — even during the pandemic, I was in my office every day. I think it is important you are visible and personally accessible to your staff and not just sitting on a couch staring at a Zoom call screen. Having a wife and two teenagers myself, I understand and wholly support a good work/home life balance and have run my office in a manner which allows that balance.
Why should residents vote for you?
I have the knowledge and skills to do the job and have successfully proven that over the last eight years. I am deeply committed and involved in this community from being a youth sports coach, member of Prior Lake Rotary, Prior Lake Chamber, and various other civil and youth organizations. I am committed to not let happen in Scott County what you see happening in other areas of the state and country regarding the criminal element. I am a strong supporter of law enforcement, and have the confidence of the law enforcement in our community. I am an aggressive prosecutor and believe in holding criminals accountable for their actions, but also getting the truly addicted individuals and those with severe mental health issues the help they need to get them healthy and keep them from committing more crimes. Overall, the voters have a choice between someone like me with a wide breadth of experience and a proven successful track record; and someone with virtually no record at all.
In the past 10 years, have you been convicted of a gross misdemeanor or higher or been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy or foreclosure?
No criminal record. No bankruptcy. One foreclosure during the housing crisis a while back.