Why are you running for office?
I have lived in Hancock County since 1974. When I left the prosecutor’s office in 2002, the county had not fundamentally changed from when I was a boy. These past 16 years have seen dramatic shifts in the type of criminal offenders and the resources available to deal with them. Our jails are filled to overflowing, and our citizens are dying due to a myriad of reasons. Law enforcement has expressed to me their dissatisfaction with the actions and policies of the elected prosecutor. I believe that I am uniquely qualified to step up and tackle these problems.
What makes you a qualified candidate for the position?
I have practiced law in Hancock County for 31 years. For 15½ years, I was Terry Snow’s deputy prosecutor in our county’s high-volume court. I have worked closely with law enforcement and personally prosecuted thousands upon thousands of felonies and misdemeanors as well as tens of thousands of traffic violations. No Hancock County prosecutor has ever handled more. For the last 15½ years, I have practiced almost exclusively as a criminal defense attorney. This added perspective and experience cannot be matched by either of my opponents.
What are your top three goals for the position?
My first goal is to bring Richard Culver, recently retired Circuit Court Judge, back to Hancock County as my chief deputy prosecutor. His 29 years of experience on the bench is an invaluable resource that cannot be found anywhere else in anyone else. My second goal is to restore the positive relationship with local law enforcement as quickly as possible. That was a huge reason that the Terry Snow office was so successful for so long. Finally, I will attempt to deal with the jail overcrowding situation in a way that protects the community without losing integrity.
How would you structure your deputy prosecutor staff (e.g., assigned by court, assigned by case type, felony level, etc.)?
I cannot answer that until I know what that staff will look like. Rick Culver and I both have many years of coaching experience, and we know that you must know the strength and weaknesses of your team before you commit to a game plan. We are going to collaborate, put together the best office we can and make decisions from there. I will tell you that, like Terry Snow, I will have a regular caseload and will be very active in the courtrooms.
Should a prosecutor have a proactive role, outside the courtroom, for deterring crime in Hancock County? If so, how?
The elected prosecutor is the top law enforcement officer in the county. He or she must be a readily recognized and trusted face in the community. He or she must be a regular visitor to our local police departments to productively interact with our officers, to our schools to educate our youth, and to other groups and organizations as needed to answer questions and encourage participation. He or she must also work closely with elected representatives to enact or amend legislation as needed to allow the criminal justice system to work as well as possible.
Name: Bob Elsea
Office sought: Hancock County Prosecutor
Occupation: defense attorney
Political experience: None
Family: Wife Karen, four children