Two more Pettis County residents threw their hat into the ring Friday for the August primary and November general elections.
Current Pettis County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Phillip Sawyer announced to a large crowd of family, friends, coworkers and law enforcement officials that he intends to seek the prosecuting attorney seat. Touting his 12 years of experience — as a public defender, running his own private practice and eventually as the assistant prosecuting attorney — Sawyer said Pettis County deserved a prosecutor that would keep the community safe.
“When I graduated law school I had two goals: to be a criminal litigator and to live in this community,” he said. “I want to see (Pettis) be a county whose offenders are held accountable and victims are given justice.”
While working in private practice, Sawyer was asked to serve as a special prosecuting attorney in Benton County and because of the county’s overloaded docket, he took over proceedings for several jury trials.
“I tried cases at a furious pace and the community saw justice being done,” Sawyer said.
In the two years Sawyer has served as assistant prosecuting attorney, he has continued to handle jury trials and served as conflict counsel as needed. He also saw the revamp of the Division 6 court docket to make it more efficient and the launch of the juvenile truancy court.
Sawyer thanked Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Mittelhauser and his coworkers for the work they continue to do. Mittelhauser is stepping down after 28 years in the prosecutor’s office to run for the open Division 6 Associated Judge seat, being vacated by Robert Liston, a fact that Sawyer said helped him decide to run for the seat.
“With Jeff running for the judge seat, the timing was right for this,” he said. “I’d also like to especially thank our law enforcement of all branches. It’s been one of the most rewarding things to work with them.”
Sawyer emphasized his experience and said Pettis County needed a prosecutor who could continue to bring offenders to justice.
“When someone steals from you, when a house down the street is selling drugs, when law enforcement officers risk their lives serving a search warrant and when officers and detectives spend weeks or months investigating a case, those officers deserve that case to be handed to a prosecuting attorney who has tried those cases before,” he said. “Through 12 years of experience practicing criminal law and a number of jury trials, I can look the people of Pettis County in the eye and tell them I’m qualified to do this.”
Saywer will face current Stoddard County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Andrew Rehmer and local attorney Kimberly Tanner during the August republican primary.
Friday also saw the announcement of longtime Pettis County resident and Missouri State Fair General Livestock Superintendent David Dick, who is seeking the republican nomination for Pettis County Presiding Commissioner.
Dick also mentioned timing, telling a crowd at the Pettis County Courthouse that because current Commissioner John Meehan decided not to run again, it was a good opportunity.
“John has done a lot of good work for Pettis County, and I thank him for that,” Dick said. “I don’t have a long list of ideas and things to improve on, but the timing is right and I think I can continue this great tradition of good government in Pettis County.”
In addition to owning Springfork Valley Farms, Dick is currently the chairman of the Board of Supervisors of the Pettis County Soil & Water Conservation District and has served in numerous past positions with the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Missouri Beef Industry Council, NCBA Board of Directors and Pettis County 4-H Foundation.
“I’ve known (Pettis County Eastern and Western Commissioners) Brent Hampy and Jim Marcum a long time and I think we’d make a good team,” Dick said. “There are always issues a county faces, sales tax numbers for instance, but I think the biggest part of the commissioner’s job is to make sure we’re giving the Pettis County offices the tools they need to be effective. The citizens have elected some great people to work for Pettis County and I don’t want to do anything that could hinder their work.”
Currently only Dick has announced his candidacy for the open presiding commissioner’s seat.
Filing for state and county offices opens Tuesday.