Marion County Attorney Ed Bull is seeking a third term in office because there is still work yet to be done.
“I enjoy my job, the people I work with – as well as the people on the other side,” Bull said. He added that he enjoys working with law enforcement to make Marion County as safe as possible.
With countless criminals prosecuted over the past eight years, Bull points to one achievement of his most recent term as one of the most important. He attended an Internet Crimes Against Children conference in Dallas, Texas, where he made contact with a member of law enforcement from Wisconsin. This officer came to Marion County to assist police chiefs and Sheriff Jason Sandholdt in learning how to set up a sting operation to catch predators who sought to have sexual contact with children they met over the Internet. No such training was available in Iowa. After another visit with the Wisconsin officer, in his home state, local law enforcement returned to Marion County and began to plan such an operation. In the end, the work led to taking three child sex predators off the street.
This operation also garnered attention from law enforcement throughout the state, from local to state to federal entities. They believed the work brought out the best in cooperation among agencies.
Another highlight of Bull’s time in office is a truancy mediation program. Bull said it is still going strong. He believes children should be in school, and it the duty of the County Attorney’s Office to find out why they are not. In those cases, it is also the office’s duty to find solutions for each individual family.
A collections program begun under Bull’s tenure continues to yield success. The office is on pace to collect over $500,000 in delinquent fines, costs and restitution this fiscal year. The program has already put over $100,000 back into Marion County’s general fund.
The collections program is not just about the money to Bull. It allows the offenders in debt the opportunity to regain their driver’s licenses and vehicle plates. For some, owing this money can be a constant trap, one in which they are caught driving which leads to more fines and charges. By paying the fines, offenders can drive legally and help them be gainfully employed.
All of these programs will be continued if Bull is re-elected. At this time, he is not challenged in the June 5 Republican primary, nor the Nov. 6 general election.
A third term would also provide Bull an opportunity to continue fighting the opioid epidemic that has swept the country. He is currently working with police chiefs Dan Losada and Robert Bokinsky, Sandholdt, as well as educators, health care professionals, treatment counselors and other stakeholders on the Marion County Change Coalition. This group is working to develop local solutions to substance abuse and chemical addiction.
Bull’s office continues to work closely with local legislators to change laws where needed. He reports having great success with Rep. Greg Heartsill and Sen. Amy Sinclair. This session, he and Bokinsky have each testified at subcommittee hearings. The first was in regard to criminalizing home security systems. According to Bull, if your home security camera records audio, it currently violates Iowa’s wiretap statute.
The other issue is in regard to defendants benefitting from third-party insurance policies that pay restitution. For example, if a drunk driver kills someone, the victim’s family may sue a drinking establishment for overserving the driver. Any payout from the establishment’s insurer would actually be credited to any restitution the driver is ordered to pay.
Bull is also serving the Iowa County Attorneys’ Association’s leadership team, a position to which he was elected by his peers. The organization provides continuing education to attorneys, resources to county attorney subgroups and more.
“This position isn’t just about me,” Bull said. “I have great employees who are dedicated public servants to the people of Marion County.” They, too, have served in various leadership roles statewide.
Assistant County Attorney Nicole Olson is in the state’s identity theft task force; Assistant Jared Harmon is on the County Attorneys’ Association’s Best Practices subgroup; Assistant Ross Gibson is on the association’s civil division workgroup and Crime Victim Coordinator Krissy Link is on a statewide board for people in her position. The office is also represented on a task force working to prevent elder abuse and neglect, a disturbing trend that is growing across Iowa.
“Marion County is a relatively small county,” Bull said. “The attorneys who work here serve big statewide roles in the administration of justice.”