/ Modified oct 10, 2016 8:16 a.m.

Pima County Public Safety: County Attorney, Sheriff Races

LaWall seeks sixth term as county attorney against Green Party's Tuell.

Pima County attorney candidates agree the jail population needs to be reduced, but they disagree on how to prosecute bicycle and pedestrian crashes.

Democrat Barbara LaWall is seeking a sixth term as the county attorney, the top prosecutor of state crimes in Pima County. Green Party candidate Cyndi Tuell is challenging her for the first time.

Tuell is a lawyer and environmental conservation advocate. She consults for nonprofit conservation organizations. She is opposed to private prisons and wants to elevate the civil side of the county attorney's work, especially environmental protection prosecution.

She is a bicyclist and said she would prosecute drivers who hit, hurt and kill pedestrians and cyclists more vigorously than LaWall has.

"There are attorneys and there are people whose family members have been killed or maimed who say they're having a really hard time getting the county prosecutor's office to charge people who run them over or kill them with any crime at all," Tuell said.

She said the police and sheriff deputies are reticent to cite motorists because they believe the cases won't be prosecuted.

LaWall defended her office's practice regarding drivers who hit bicyclists or pedestrians.

"We have a vehicular unit that takes very seriously manslaughter and negligent homicide cases, and we prosecute them whenever the facts of the case meet the legal requirements for prosecutions, " LaWall said.

That includes proving fault, she said.

"Sometimes an accident is an accident and it is not a criminal charge," she said.

When her office can prove that someone acted with criminal intent, she will press those cases to a jury trial, she said.

Sheriff's Race

In the race for Pima County sheriff, Chris Nanos is the incumbent. He is a Democrat who was appointed to the job in 2015, when former Sheriff Clarence Dupnik retired. Republican
Mark Napier is hoping to win the seat, too.

Nanos began his career in the El Paso Police Department, then moved to Pima County where he worked as a corrections officer in the jail, and moved up through the ranks and worked in all four of the department's divisions.

Napier worked most of his career in the Tucson Police Department until he moved to the Glendale Police Department to be an assistant director in 2008. He now works as an assistant director of the University of Arizona Parking and Transportation.

Napier said in an interview on Metro Week that his experience working outside of law enforcement has helped change his perspective on the community's expectation and relationship with law enforcement.

"I'm interacting with people that have very different views of law enforcement than I may have been privy to wearing the uniform and doing the job," Napier said.

Nanos said he is connected to the community because he and his deputies do volunteer work throughout Pima County.

"The reason you don't see us, I believe, involved in some of the incidents you see across the nation, is because we are engaged with this community. We are involved," Nanos said. He cited volunteering he or his deputies do at the local food bank, for homeless soup kitchens and with Habitat for Humanity.

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