Interview with Adam Morfeld, candidate for Lancaster County Attorney
The Democratic candidate is currently a State Senator and is running against incumbent Pat Condon
LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - 10/11′s Bayley Bischof sat down with Adam Morfeld about his run for Lancaster County Attorney. Here’s the full interview:
Bayley Bischof, 10/11 NOW: If there’s a viewer out there who doesn’t know anything about you, what would you want them to know before the election?
Adam Morfeld, running for Lancaster County Attorney: I just want them to know that the reason why I’m running for Lancaster County attorney is to protect public safety, bring accountability to the office and also lead with transparency. Those are the three big things. And then, in addition, a little bit about me, I live in Lincoln here with my wife and our dog and a very vocal cat. And I’ve been here since 2005 after I moved back after growing up in a military family and having to travel around for a bit.
Bayley Bischof: Why did you decide to run for county attorney this year?
Adam Morfeld: I’ve served on the Judiciary Committee [In the Nebraska State Legislature] for the last eight years creating our criminal code and criminal laws. And I’ve seen the real impact that the Lancaster County Attorney’s Office can have on keeping all of us safe, but then also ensuring that we make it so that we reduce recidivism and we are good stewards of our taxpayer dollars.
Bayley Bischof: How would you run the county attorney’s office differently than your competitors running it now?
Adam Morfeld: I would do a lot of things different. So it’s really hard to know where to begin and stop. But in any case, the first thing that I would do in particular, is put more of an emphasis on cracking down on some of the violent crime. I mean, homicide and gun crime is up in Lancaster County. And I think a lot of that is because this current county attorney has been charging people that are non-violent with felonies, for simple things like drug residue, and things like that things that would be much more effectively handled in our problem solving and Diversion Court systems, and are things that quite frankly, don’t lead to making our community more safe or cracking down on the increase in homicide and gun crime. So that’s the first thing I would do is one, make it so that we are emphasizing where we’re putting our resources at and then to really looking at what are some ways that we can do things better, for instance, assessing every single person that comes into our criminal justice system and determining are they at risk to themselves or others in the community. If they’re not and they’re non-violent, then we need to look at a community corrections program, one that’s going to be more successful in keeping them employed, and provides that accountability, while also getting them the help that they need. So they’re less likely to recidivate and commit more violent crimes in the future. So that’s one thing, but I can keep going on too.
Bayley Bischof: You had a lot of different priorities from public safety, and more on your website, just what would be your other top priorities?
Adam Morfeld: Definitely, as I said earlier, public safety, making sure that we assess every single person that’s coming in and what their risk is to the community, focusing more on violent crime, rather than sending people to prison with felonies for non-violent kind of substance or mental health related things, but then also transparency. So transparency means we should be putting on our website available to everyone. What are we charging people with? What are we successfully convicting? What are the different recidivism rates? What programs are working and keeping our community safe and which ones are not working? And what are our recommendations after bringing people together law enforcement advocates, you name it? What are those recommendations to make our community safer? So transparency is going to be the number one thing that we work on after public safety. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to hire an ombuds person on day one, and make it so that they are empowered to share that information with public take complaints from the public and then educate the public. The third thing is accountability. We need to make sure that we have accountability on the state government level, which the Lancaster County attorney’s jurisdictions uniquely positioned to provide. We need to make sure that there’s accountability in the office for how are we treating victims and other advocates that are within the system? How are we treating them and how are we making sure that they have all the services they need to be successful and to also feel like their rights had been vindicated.
Bayley Bischof: In different debate or townhall type settings, you’ve mentioned that if abortion or same sex marriage were to be made against the law, that you wouldn’t prosecute those cases, why have you made that? Something that so publicly? Why is that an important cause for you?
Adam Morfeld: Our north star, under my administration in the county attorney’s office is going to be public safety, that’s going to be priority number one. And if there is something that is not going to contribute to public safety, for instance, and abortion ban, or a gay marriage ban, those are things that we are not going to spend our time energy and finite law enforcement resources on enforcing a total and abortion ban, as my opponent recently said in a forum that he would do against doctors and women, that will do nothing to lead to public safety. In fact, what it’ll do is it will reduce public safety, because people will be fearful to get the medical care that they need with their doctor, and forcing a gay marriage ban, which my opponent also said that he would recently due at the public forum, also does not lead to public safety. In fact, what it does is it makes otherwise loving consensual couples live in fear. So I will not dedicate law enforcement resources to enforcing an abortion ban against doctors and women. I will not use law enforcement resources to break up marriages of otherwise very loving and consensual couples. Because it simply does not lead to increased public safety, it actually leads to the opposite.
Bayley Bischof: Right now in Lincoln, the data doesn’t show that there’s a huge increase in violent crime, but there’s an increase in shootings. And it certainly feels like it’s been a more violent, there’s just been more deaths. Is that kind of an intimidating time to be taking on this role? Or what would you want your message to the community to be about that uptick that we’re seeing, even if it is just an impression of an increase?
Adam Morfeld: Bottom line is, it’s not an impression that gun violence is up. Gun violence is up homicides are up in Lancaster County, and people are concerned about it. I’ve knocked on hundreds of doors just in the past few weeks alone. And that’s one of the number one issues that are brought up by people when going door to door. So for me making sure that we have a different approach, a more focused approach on putting our finite law enforcement resources towards solving those crimes and preventing those crimes is going to be the top priority. To me, that’s not intimidating. That’s one of the number one reasons why I’m running because I’ve seen it for the last eight years, where we have misplaced priorities by this county attorney, whether it was him [Pat Condon, current County Attorney] prosecuting minor marijuana possession as felonies for years until a judge told him to stop or whether it’s what he’s currently doing, which is charging people automatically with felonies for simple drug residue, that are nonviolent, doesn’t make any sense. We need to be focused more on the homicides, and we need to be more focused on the gun violence.
Bayley Bischof: This has been a pretty contentious race for county attorney from very negative ads and different posters and signs going up around town targeting you - just what has it been like to be on the receiving end of things like that?
Adam Morfeld: It’s kind of weird to be sitting on your couch with your wife and your dog and, and see this ad pop up about you that’s just totally factually incorrect. And so it’s tough to see those things. But it’s also you know, it’s what I signed up for, as a public official to have scrutiny, but then also to correct the record, when mistruths are said, and the bottom line is that I’ve worked diligently as a fairly visible public elected official for the last eight years. People know my record, they know that I work hard. They know that I show up every single day. I’m going to continue to do that as the Lancaster County Attorney and I know that my actions and my record speaks for itself and we’re going to continue spreading the word.
Bayley Bischof: And one of the main reasons that the current county attorney has given to people to not vote for you is they say you haven’t prosecuted cases in court. Have you? What experience do you have that makes you qualified for this?
Adam Morfeld: Yeah, well, as an attorney, I’ve argued before the Nebraska Supreme Court personally, I’ve also managed and actually founded a legal services and direct services agency so I’ve ran that for the last 14 or 15 years. It actually has more staff than is currently in the county attorney’s office. So I’m skilled at managing large agencies. In addition, I manage litigation teams on a whole variety of issues, many of which have been litigated in state, federal and even the Nebraska Supreme Court. And so I have a lot of experience when it comes to practicing law. Despite all of the negative ads and and mistruths out there about that. The Supreme Court actually also found that I was qualified to run for the office unanimously after the GOP tried kicking me off the ballot. So I have plenty of experience. This is a narrative that my opponent and others want to push because quite frankly, they don’t have a lot to talk about in terms of what they’re going to do differently to solve some of the upticks and homicides and also the uptick in gun crime.
Bayley Bischof: How are you feeling a few weeks out from the election?
Adam Morfeld: Well, I think anybody that’s got their name on the ballot, a few weeks out from the election would be lying if they didn’t say you’re a little bit nervous. But you know, the bottom line is, is I’m confident that the people of Lancaster County know who I am. They know my work ethic. They also know my active practice in law over the last eight years and I’m also confident that people in Lancaster County are ready for somebody who’s going to be more reflective of the community values, not somebody who’s going to go after doctors and women for reproductive care, not somebody who’s going to go after somebody that is married to somebody that they love, simply because they’re gay, we’re not going to do those things and those are the things that my opponent had said that they are going to enforce. Those are the things that are not reflective of the values of people, Lancaster County. So I’m confident that people in Lancaster County want somebody who’s going to be focused on public safety and they’re also going to be focused on accountability and transparency and I’m going to be that person.
Bayley Bischof: Anything else you think voters might want to know?
Adam Morfeld: Yeah, I would just say that, you know, voters, if they want to know more information about me my experience and what we stand for, and our focus on public safety, they should go to adammorfeld.com and they can find out everything that they want there. And if they can, I’ve got a little email button at the top. I check my own email. I answer everybody who sends me one and I’d be happy to talk with anybody that’s interested.
For more on candidates in the general election, visit 10/11′s 2022 Nebraska General Election Voter’s Guide.
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