Current Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Phillip Sawyer will serve as the next Prosecuting Attorney of Pettis County after winning a four-way GOP race in Tuesday’s primary and facing no opposition in November.
Sawyer garnered 2,298 (35.2 percent) of the total 6,525 votes cast. Kim Tanner took second with 1,694 votes (25.9 percent), followed by Andrew Rehmer with 1,381 votes (21.1 percent) and Myron McNeal with 1,152 votes (17.6 percent).
“I’m relieved,” Sawyer said. “I’m exhausted and of course I’m happy. I’m looking forward to this new challenge and this is exactly what the plan has been since I got out of law school. I’m pleased that the people turned out as they did and I’m pleased that so many worked so diligently to become informed.”
After taking office, Sawyer will replace Jeff Mittelhauser who has served as prosecutor for 28 years. Sawyer said he plans to keep the office running smoothly by maintaining the high standards set by his predecessor before exploring any changes.
“I am very proud of the legal system that we have here. I think Jeff has done a marvelous job and that’s probably not saying it strongly enough,” Sawyer said. “Once we ensure that the office continues to run as efficiently and smoothly as it has for the past 28 years, and then we are going to explore what, if any, changes need to occur.”
Challenges are on the horizon for the office of the prosecutor. A new Missouri criminal code is in the works and the court continues the switch to electronic filing. Nevertheless, Sawyer said he plans to take an aggressive stance against criminals in the county, especially repeat offenders.
“I am going to continue to be tough on repeat offenders and I am going to continue enforcing the law the way the citizens of the county expect it to be enforced,” Sawyer said.
“As society changes and the problems that we have to deal with change we are certainly going to have to take a look at whether we are dealing with those appropriately. You certainly can’t foresee the future. I think what is important is that we have the ability to deal with those problems.”
The future prosecutor said he admires all of his opponents in the primary as most have practiced law in the county for years.
“I know Myron well. I know Kim well. And I haven’t had the opportunity to get to know Andrew, but I think they all ran a marvelous campaign,” Sawyer said. “I think that each one of them independently possesses their own strong skill sets. I think what’s impressive is how they related those and did so in a kind, above board manner. I’m very proud to be a colleague of theirs.”
In parting, Sawyer said he would like to take the time to thank everyone who came out to vote.
“This was clearly an importantly election as it pertains not only to our community, but specifically to our criminal justice system,” Sawyer said. “I’m glad people took the time to pay attention to that.”