Choi has the track record to make reforms to Ramsey County Attorney Office

October 3, 2010 | Twin Cities Daily Planet

 The former St. Paul City Attorney is racking up the endorsements in his bid to replace outgoing Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner -- former Ramsey County Attorney Tom Foley last month got added to a list that includes the mayors of eight Ramsey County cities, five of the seven current Ramsey County board members, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, the DFL Party, the St. Paul Police Federation and a laundry list of union, legal and elected officials.

Choi, whose family immigrated to the United States from South Korea when he was three years old, emphasizes his four years as City Attorney under St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, and the results he said he's achieved during that time.

"I believe I've transformed a public law agency, increased morale and achieved better result for the public, as told by third-party observers," he said. "From my fellow city attorneys I received the Joseph Mulligan Award in 2009 for top municipal attorney in public leadership for all of North America."

Choi points to his efforts last year to secure injunctions against known gang leaders to ban them from wearing gang colors or associating with each other at St. Paul's Rondo Days and Cinco de Mayo celebrations.

Under his leadership, the City Attorney's office has reduced its response time to investigating domestic violence reports from 30 days to a week or less, Choi said.

He also said the city implemented new criminal diversion programs aimed at reducing recidivism and allowing people to keep their drivers licenses instead of having them revoked, which can have negative economic consequences.

In his most high-profile criminal action while City Attorney, Choi's office sorted through 672 potential prosecutions from arrests made at the Republican National Convention in 2008. His office dismissed 80 percent of those cases and has secured nine convictions on misdemeanor charges including vandalism, criminal damage to property and unlawful assembly.

"We tried to get those cases sorted out as quickly as possible," Choi said.

If elected, Choi said he has the track record to be able to make incremental reforms to the County Attorney's office during a period of tight budgets and potential cutbacks.

Using technology, alternate sentencing and restorative justice to reduce repeat offenders and save on court costs, emphasizing juvenile crime prevention and coordinating with local city attorneys on issues such as domestic violence are some of the places Choi said he would emphasize if elected.

"My focus is 110 percent on serving the people of Ramsey County," he said. "Some of the things I want to do, I don't believe it's possible to get the job done in four years."

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