Early this spring, I sat down with my family and friends to discuss becoming a candidate for Racine County District Attorney. As a family with three young children, we knew this was a very big decision.
Living in Caledonia, my wife and I chose to live and raise our family in the Racine community ten years ago. We love Racine and all of the wonderful opportunities that it offers our family to explore nature, meet new friends, and participate in community events. We are proud to call Racine home.
I have deep ties to our community and have worked hard to make Racine a better place. I spent 9 years as a business litigator here in Racine, representing many respected local employers and many residents of our community. I also worked as a Special Prosecutor for the City of Racine, helping to make our downtown area safer. I ran the local Mock Trial program for high school students for many years, helping them to learn about our justice system. I also served on the Board of the Racine County Bar Association.
I also have 8 years of criminal prosecution experience in the Milwaukee and Kenosha District Attorney’s offices. I have prosecuted homicides, sexual assault cases, heroin and other drug cases, violent crimes, drunk driving cases and domestic abuse cases. I have an excellent track record of prosecuting violent offenders.
My wide range of experience has taught me a great deal about the entire region of southeast Wisconsin and how Racine fits into that larger picture. This is one of the most important and unique qualifications I believe I can bring to the District Attorney’s Office in Racine.
Let me give you an example. Much of the heroin coming into Racine County is trafficked along I-94. Jurisdictions along I-94 have a similar interest in stopping the flow of heroin coming into southeast Wisconsin. By coordinating with other prosecuting offices and law enforcement agencies, we can increase the effectiveness of our prosecutions while simultaneously reducing the burden on Racine County’s taxpayers.
Unfortunately, under the current administration, the Racine County District Attorney’s Office is not actively participating with State and Federal task force operations in this region that are fighting the trafficking of heroin. That needs to change.
With strong connections to both the Kenosha and Milwaukee District Attorney Offices, as Racine District Attorney I will work to reduce the supply and demand for heroin in Racine County.
If I am elected Racine County District Attorney, I want to bring a successful program to reduce heroin dependency along with me from Kenosha County. Earlier this year, we developed a pilot program in Kenosha to address the demand for heroin with the full support of the District Attorney’s Office and law enforcement. The program uses a new drug called Vivitrol, which was approved by the FDA in 2010 to reduce opiate dependency. Kenosha, like Racine, spends a tremendous amount of law enforcement resources investigating and prosecuting addicts. If we can divert addicts away from the criminal justice system through the increased administration of Vivitrol, we can free up valuable resources to target the dealers who are bringing heroin into our community.
We can just talk about about the problem or we can take action and work with others to really address the problem. As Racine District Attorney, increased cooperation with our neighboring communities and bringing the cutting edge Vivitrol program to Racine will be one of my top priorities.
This is part of my larger plan of making the Racine County District Attorney’s office more proactive, instead of reactive. It starts with a community dialogue, something I have begun in my campaign. As District Attorney, I will establish a Community Prosecution Program where our prosecutors will spend time out in the community meeting with education leaders, law enforcement, the clergy and community leaders to help find solutions to our community’s problems before a crime occurs and someone gets hurt. I will also create a Community Advisory Board made up of representatives from our community that I will meet with on a regular basis to discuss ways to make our community safer. I will work hard to make the District Attorney’s office more transparent and accountable.
The Racine County District Attorney’s Office has a reputation in the region for a higher than average turnover rate within the office. This is a concern that should be addressed. Stability and experience are critical to effective criminal prosecution. There is a steep learning curve to being a prosecutor.
This weekend, our local newspaper featured a front page article which reported the Racine District Attorney is requesting five new lawyers from the state to cover their caseload. Some of this can be attributed to an increase in new cases, but in reality, Racine has lost staff very recently which has had a very significant impact on services to the people of Racine.
There is no dedicated attorney for drug and alcohol court, and no dedicated attorney for the new veterans court in Racine County. That means these courts, which can be very effective at keeping families and employment secure, are relegated to an extracurricular activity for the Racine DA’s office.
Those are the wrong priorities. As Racine District Attorney, I will change this.
While my opponent, Tricia Hanson, and I both have a great deal of prosecution experience, there are some very real differences between us. Every defendant has a Constitutional right to a trial by jury. Over that last two years, I have won 13 jury trials against child molesters, murderers, rapists, violent crimes and domestic abuser. Tricia Hanson has not tried a single jury trial during that same period.
As your District Attorney, I will be supervising and training prosecutors who will be going before a jury – often in very high-stakes cases. The people of Racine County expect us to win. But in the highest profile cases, involving the most violent offenders, the people of Racine County want a District Attorney who will fight for justice and who will win those cases. I have the experience and skill to do that.
The last few years have been one of the most difficult periods in the history of the Racine District Attorney’s Office. When our current District Attorney, Rich Chiapete, broke the law 2 years ago, it left many people in Racine feeling disillusioned about the integrity and professionalism of the DA’s office.
His hand-picked successor, Tricia Hanson, has also broken the law in her campaign. The Racine City Attorney and the Mount Pleasant and Caledonia Police Departments have asked her to take photos of their personnel and equipment off of her campaign materials because it violates Federal law and puts their funding and jobs at risk. They’ve informed her that they do not endorse her and she does not have permission to use those photos in her campaign. When the newspaper asked her about it, she said she did not know that the law applied to her. A District Attorney’s first responsibility is to know the law.
As your next District Attorney, I will uphold the highest standards of integrity, honesty and accountability. I will stand for justice for all of Racine County’s citizens. I want to forge a new era for the Racine County District Attorney’s and I will work hard to earn the trust and respect of each voter in Racine County.
If you have any questions, I look forward to communicating with you. Please contact me by email at BingerforDA@gmail.com or by phone at (262) 770-5775. Learn more about me at my website: BingerforDA.com
Please join me at the first candidate debate sponsored by the Racine Interfaith Coalition on Oct. 6th, 6:30 to 8pm at Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, 322 Ohio St., Racine, WI 53405
Election Day is November 8, 2016. To check your registration status of find your poll location fo to myvote.wi.gov
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