The candidates in the race for Douglas County district attorney are lobbying behind the scenes for votes.
Candidates for the soon-to-be vacated Douglas County district attorney's post won't face off in a public forum but will be asked to complete questionnaires for their views on the office.
The questionnaires, which are expected to be returned by the candidates Thursday, will be used by the county's 102 GOP precinct committeemen and committeewomen when they vote for a new DA next month.
"I really would have loved to have done a candidate forum," said Susan Smith, who chairs the Douglas County Republican Central Committee and developed the questionnaires. "But we have had so little time and the holidays are on us."
Smith said the questionnaires ask the six candidates the following questions:
- What changes, if any, would you like to see made in the DA's office?
- Is plea bargaining currently handled in a way that you can agree with?
- What do you see as the top four or five issues facing Douglas County with respect to how they affect the DA's office?
- What do you consider your greatest strengths as the county's new district attorney?
Smith said she hopes to have written responses back from the candidates by Thursday. She plans to mail the results to the 102 precinct committee people by Saturday so they will be able to measure the candidates "on a level playing field."
"I want our committee people to make a well-thought out decision and not an emotional one," Smith said.
"My plans are to put these together and mailing it out to all of our committee people with formal notification of time and place for the meeting," she said.
Smith denied rumors that party leaders have hand-picked a candidate. She said she didn't know if any candidate already has enough committed votes to win.
Many of the candidates have been doing extensive telephone lobbying, she said. And at least one candidate has sent the precinct committee people a resume and position papers.
Smith did say that it was likely that the candidate who is picked will have more conservative leanings than Jerry Wells, who will leave the office in the middle of his four-year term to take a position with the Koch Crime Commission.
"I've spoken in person with three of the candidates, and all three of them have more conservative leanings than I think is perhaps personally represented in the position right now," Smith said.
Smith also squelched rumors that the person who would be nominated would have to be on the pro-life side of the abortion question. She said the abortion issue rarely arises in the course of a district attorney's duty.
"How many times in the last four or five or 10 years has our district attorney had to deal with abortion? But how many times has he dealt with other issues, such as juvenile crime, drugs or domestic violence?" she asked. "Being pro-life is important to me, but I look at the whole picture. ... Personally, I do not see that as one of the top four issues."