Attorney General candidate Ralph DeZago chats about upcoming election
July 14, 2010
This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.
Ralph DeZago, a candidate from Herington, is running in against Derek Schmidt for the right to appear on the ballot as the Republican nominee for Attorney General in the November general election. He'll take your questions on the upcoming election.
Hello and welcome to the second of our LJWorld.com Election 2010 chats. I'm Jonathan Kealing and I'll be your moderator today. I want to thank everyone who's submitted questions and remind you that we'll continue to take questions until the chat ends.
Ralph, thanks for joining us today.
Thank you Jonathan. I'm am pleased to take this opportunity to answer questions. Bring it on!
Let's get straight to the questions.
Your opponent has mainly just been in the legislature. You've said you don't consider yourself a politician and have made a big deal about not taking endorsements from other politicians. What's the downside of having a legislator/politician as the AG?
It's not so much that there is a downside to being a legislator, its just that there is no upside to it. The Attorney General's duties are all about experience in enforcing the law. Being in the legislature doesn't help that. Also, the AG should have experience in administering a large office. Being a legislator doesn't help that either.
As to the politican endoresements, the AG should enforce laws impartially and non-politically. Taking politicians' endorsements at the least looks like the AG has a political agenda, which I do not.
Would you want to write a Kansas law similar to Arizona's immigration law? Some states such as Oklahoma and Utah are planning such actions. Eric Holder has filed a federal lawsuit against Arizona do you feel this is justified?
The Attorney General does not write the laws -- the legislature does that. The Attorney General enforces the laws, once they become laws. I personally support Arizona in it's quest to protect its borders. But as AG my job will be to enforce the laws passed, even if I didn't personally agree with them. I personally hope that Arizona's laws stand up to the constitutional scrutiny of the courts.
Consumer protection is a big part of the role of the attorney general. What would you do to inform and protect consumers in an era of increasingly sophisticated scams and cheats?
Education is, as you have noted, a large part of the key to combating consumer fraud, which is more common now with the information explosion than even before. Large scale public service informercials, aimed predominantly at the most susceptable groups (young and elderly) must be initiated. But also, the punishment for such crimes must be enhanced substantially, which will require the revamping in part of the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines Act.
What convinced you that now was the time to get into politics?
In December 2008, I read an article in which a now-candidate for another office advised that he was going to run for office but was leaving open the question of what office he was going to run for. This got me thinking about professional politicians who run for office regardless of qualifications. I then decided to run because I believe firmly that the Attorney General's Office should be based upon experience, not simply to be used as a steppingstone for higher office. I believe I am very well qualified for that office. On the other hand, I am probably not well qualified for other offices. Which is why I am running for this, and only this office.
You and Derek Schmidt are both city prosecutors. Why should we trust your experience over his? You both have the same experience as attorneys.
Our experience is vastly different. In my role as City Prosecutor (which in Junction City is a full-time job, unlike in Independence) I handle misdemenaor matters, since felonies are handled by the County/District Attorneys. But my substantial trial experience is in the 16 years I was the Chief Public Defender for North Central Kansas, where I handled thousands of FELONY cases, personally did hundreds of felony jury trials and administered a large office of lawyers. I also was an assistant Attorney General for 3 1/2 years.
Since your opponent has been in the legislature for 10 years, and you stated there is no upside in this, do you think that makes him qualified to be AG, or just makes him a political insider looking for the next office?
I am certainly not going to try to determine Derek's motives for running. As to qualifications, I believe significant trial experience in serious matters, coupled with experience administering a large office are critical for the Attorney General's Office. I do not see legislative experience as being as important for that office.
You aren't raising money for your campaign. How can you expect to win if your opponent Derek Schmidt has Topeka lobbyists and insiders on his side? Won't they just buy this election for him?
I would hope the public, in this election, will look to qualifications, and not vote for whose name they hear the most. This may be a naive view-- it may be visionary. If the public like my qualifications, great. If they like Derek's, good for him. I do not curry the support of lobbyists or insiders. If the election results from who has the most money, then that is what the public wants.
And this is the last question we have today:
If elected, what will be your top three priorities as Attorney General.
1. Bring the office back to its mission of enforcing laws rather than pushing the politican/social agenda of the office holder.
2. Enforce the law, impartially and non-politically, and providing the required and needed back-up support to local law enforcemnt agencies
3. Increase the awareness of consumer fraud, and increase the penalties for the same.
That's all the questions we have. Thanks everyone who submitted a question and to those who logged on to see what Ralph had to say. Eveyone, remember that advance voting started today at the Douglas County Courthouse, and election day is August 3.
Ralph, thanks for joining us. Any closing remarks?
I only ask the voters to consider the qualificatons and experience of all the candidates very carefully. Research your vote carefully.
As to the Attorney General's Office, ask yourself this:
If you or a loved one was the victim of a violent crime, and the Attorney General was charged with the prosecution of the offender, who would you want to be leading the prosecution team?