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Polk Da Race A Three-Way Affair

POLK COUNTY - The three individuals vying for Polk County District Attorney are pleading their cases, so to speak, about why they should be elected in what's arguably the most important local race on

POLK COUNTY - The three individuals vying for Polk County District Attorney are pleading their cases, so to speak, about why they should be elected in what's arguably the most important local race on the May ballot.

Under state rules, the candidate who receives 50 percent or more of the vote during the May 20 vote-by-mail primary would be declared the winner. If nobody garners that percentage, the two top vote-getters will square off in November.

Stan Butterfield of Dallas and West Salem residents Michael Fagan and Aaron Felton are all challenging for the position held by incumbent John Fisher, who was appointed in 1999 and is not seeking re-election.

The race for district attorney is the first contested one since the mid-1980s.

Butterfield worked as a journalist and was a member of the Washington State House of Representatives in the 1980s. He later spent 11 years working for the Federal Bureau of Prisons in positions ranging from training officer, legal liaison, national academy instructor and as an executive staff member of the warden's legal office.

Butterfield, 49, earned his law degree at Willamette University in 2003, and began working as a public defender in Dallas a year later. He also helped create the county drug court, in which offenders who elect to enter the program are enrolled in treatment and meet regularly with social workers and judges.

"I'm the only candidate who has practiced in circuit court in the last four years," Butterfield said. "I've developed relationships with county commissioners, the sheriff's office and others."

Butterfield has said he wants to resolve complaints he has heard from some in local law enforcement regarding the DA leadership not pursuing enough cases. He also wants to meet with personnel to consider rearranging the current management structure.

"Ultimately, this is about achieving a higher level of confidence that public safety is functioning the way it should be," he said.

Fagan, 57, a New Jersey native, was a deputy district attorney for Marion County from 1997 to 2002. Since then, he has run his own private practice in Salem.

Before earning his law degree at Lewis and Clark College, Fagan served 20 years in the military - four in the Air Force, the rest in the Navy as an officer.

Fagan spent time doing electronic intelligence work, was a jet mechanics training officer, and represented the government in summary court martial cases.

"To be a successful DA, you need the ability to run an organization, to plan and execute a budget and manage assets," he said.

"I've done all of those things and done them well."

Besides boosting cooperation with police departments and the sheriff's office, Fagan said he would be dogged in prosecuting cases if elected. He also wants to implement regular trial training for his deputy DAs.

"It's about having people who are fearless when they go into the court room," he said. "That's what enables them to manage a caseload in a way that serves the public."

After graduating from Willamette University in 1995, Felton served as counsel to the labor and judiciary committees of the Oregon House of Representatives.

He has been an advocate in Marion County Juvenile Court, and worked as a deputy district attorney in Polk County from 1999 to 2005 - which he said he believes is one of his strongest attributes.

"It gives me the direct experience my opponents only talk about having," said Felton, who is currently Salem's assistant city attorney. "I'll be able to hit the ground running from day one."

Felton, 41, said he wants to strengthen partnerships with area law enforcement and wants to dedicate time toward crime prevention by cooperating with municipal courts and reaching out to community organizations.

One idea he wants to pursue is a reduced tuition initiative with Chemeketa Community College to aid young from troubled families with continuing their education or maintaining a job.

Felton said he would reach out to community leaders "to rally funding and those sources to show people that investments in creating scholarships and programs designed for at-risk people has a direct affect on crime reduction."

Polk County District Attorney

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Hopefuls

Name: Stan Butterfield.

Age: 49.

Hometown: Dallas.

Party affiliation: Nonpartisan position.

Position sought: Polk County District Attorney.

Employment: Self-employed attorney in Dallas (four years).

Endorsements: Polk County Commissioners Mike Propes, Ron Dodge and Tom Ritchey; State Rep. Brian Boquist.

Local public service: Founding member of Polk County Drug Court (2005-present); Boy Scouts of America adult volunteer (1983-present); Polk County Habitat for Humanity board member (2004-05); Polk County Road Advisory Committee (2004-05).

Web site: www.stanbutterfield.com.

Campaign phone: 503-623-4075.

* * *

Name: Mike Fagan.

Age: 57.

Hometown: West Salem.

Party affiliation: Nonpartisan position.

Position sought: Polk County District Attorney.

Employment: Private practice, D. Michael Fagan, Attorney and Counselor (six years).

Endorsements: None listed.

Local public service: Deputy District Attorney, Marion County (1997-2002); United States Navy (20 years).

Web site: None. Campaign office at 131 SW Court St., Dallas.

Campaign phone: 503-362-1601.

* * *

Name: Aaron Felton.

Age: 41.

Hometown: West Salem.

Party affiliation: Nonpartisan position.

Position sought: Polk County District Attorney.

Employment: Assistant City Attorney, City of Salem (three years).

Endorsements: State Rep. Vicki Berger, Independence Mayor John McArdle, Joseph Penna, Polk County Chief Deputy District Attorney Mark Heslinga.

Local public service: Deputy District Attorney, Polk County (four years); Deputy District Attorney, Benton County (1999); Committee Counsel, House Labor and Judiciary Committee (1995 and 1999 Oregon Legislature sessions); past member, YMCA Board of Directors; president, Woodhaven Estates Homeowners Association; member, YMCA Youth and Government Planning Committee.

Web site: www.aaronfelton.com

Campaign phone: 503-371-0374.

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