Missoula Co. Attorney Candidates Tout Qualities, Attributes Ahea - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Missoula Co. Attorney Candidates Tout Qualities, Attributes Ahead of Primary Election

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MISSOULA -

The two candidates vying for the Missoula County Attorney position touted their qualities and attributes during a public forum at the public library, which was hosted by the Missoula Press Club.

Kirsten Pabst, who is a former Chief Deputy County Attorney and currently owns her own practice, along with Josh De Wetering, who is also a practicing Missoula attorney, answered a variety of questions from four panelists and members of the audience. Those questioned centered around the office's handling of sexual assaults to combating child abuse and neglect.

When asked about the changes they would make to the county attorney's office in response to the Department of Justice's allegations of mishandling of sexual assault cases, both candidates agreed that more focus needs to made on these particular cases, but differed when it came to hiring an in-house investigator to offer assistance.

"And the reason is, there is essentially, roughly, 150 sworn officers between the sheriff's department and the police department in Missoula. If you have 150 officers, even 15 to 20 detectives, funneling down to one investigator to make the final, that's just not going to work," said Van de Wetering. "What we need to do is work more cooperatively with all of those detectives who are out there."

"Some of the ideas that I had when I was the Chief Deputy County Attorney included hiring an in-house investigator, which I think is important. Law enforcement agrees with me. The current employees agree with me," added Pabst as a rebuttal. "Additionally, I would implement, or hire, or create a new position for an in-house crime victim coordinator, so someone who works in the county attorney's office and helps communicate with the external Crime Victim Advocate's office, because there has clearly been a break-down of communication there."

Both non-partisan candidates will replace current Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg, who is retiring.

The primary election takes place on Tuesday, June 3rd.

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