Experience, hometown pride, longtime relationships, continuity and a commitment to the office of Mille Lacs County attorney are a few of the things incumbent Jan Jude says sets her apart from her opponents in the Aug. 12 primary election.
Jude, who lives in Foreston, is married and has two grown children.
She grew up in the Milaca and Pease areas and has a close bond to Princeton, where one of her children played in the hockey system. She has ties to the Mille Lacs Lake area, where she spent summers on the water as a child with her family.
“I’ve been here my whole life,” Jude said. “I’ve raised my family here.”
Jude has held the office of Mille Lacs County attorney for 12 years. She fought hard along the path to earning the position.
After graduating from Milaca High School, Jude attended the University of Minnesota, at the Duluth and Twin Cities campuses, and Bethel University in St. Paul.
After graduating from Bethel, Jude earned a presidential scholarship to attend the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul.
At the time a single mother of two children, Jude attended law school, worked full-time and raised her children. After graduating from William Mitchell, Jude worked at two private law firms before becoming the judicial law clerk for Mille Lacs County Judge Michael Jesse, a position she held for three years.
In 2002, Jesse encouraged Jude to run for county attorney. It’s a seat she won and has held for 12 years. Having worked in Jesse’s office allows Jude to see situations from not just a county attorney’s view, but from a judge’s view, as well.
“The most important thing, after my 12 years here, is that experience really does matter,” Jude said.
Some projects the attorney’s office takes on can take years to complete. Continuity plays an important role the office, and Jude said she provides that. Being in office for over a decade also allows Jude to call on past experiences when similar situations arise within the local judicial system. That allows Jude to expedite resolutions, she said.
Mille Lacs County presents several unique challenges for a county attorney. Jude’s experience with tribal issues, tribal law, jurisdictional issues and federal law will also provide valuable continuity for the residents of Mille Lacs county, she said.
She has, in her 12 years as county attorney, also developed valuable relationships with colleagues outside the county. It takes years to develop those relationships “and now those people are just a phone call away,” she said.
Jude said she is committed to the office of county attorney and does not see it as a stepping stone to another position. Jude said she stands proud on what she has accomplished as county attorney.
She wants to return to office so she can carry on with her goal of continuing the many programs and initiatives she has been a part of over the years.
“I want to continue what we’re doing,” Jude said. “We’ve worked hard the last few years on child abuse prevention.”
The Mille Lacs County Multi-Disciplinary Team, of which Jude and many of her assistants are members, was awarded the 2013 Blue Ribbon Award from Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota for work in child abuse investigations and prosecutions.
Jude also wants to continue her work with the Mille Lacs County Family Violence Coordinating Council, a group of community members, judges, law enforcement personnel, prosecutors and social workers, of which Jude is the co-facilitator.
“We focus on domestic violence prevention in order to make the court system better for victims and to create easier intervention for children,” Jude said.
Jude also wants to continue her “Golden Rule” program, an anti-bullying initiative that brings youth and their parents together with representatives of the court system. She also wants to continue her work with the Olweus anti-bullyng program in the Milaca School District, elder abuse initiatives and a truancy program on the north end of the county.
She would also like to see through to its end the appeal of a U.S. Department of Interior decision to allow the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe to place 400 acres of land into trust status for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
“High crime rates, especially in the Vineland area, are always a pressing issue, as is heroin use,” Jude said. She has goals of reducing those issues, as well.
Jude said her continuity in office has benefited Mille Lacs County and its citizens by stopping the excessive turnover that was once prevalent in her office.
“I have built an office that’s stable and efficient,” she said.
Jude has received the endorsements of the Princeton Police Officer’s union and the Mille Lacs County Assistant County Attorneys union.