Former Bend city councilor and local attorney John Hummel has announced he will run for Deschutes County District Attorney, challenging current DA Patrick Flaherty in the primary election in May 2014.
Hummel, 44, practiced criminal law as a defense attorney in Deschutes County from 1995 to 2006, and was twice elected to the City Council, in 2000 and 2004. He said it's time for the community to heal from recent issues in the DA's office.
“It became clear to me that we needed to go in a different direction in our community,” Hummel said. “My skill set fits perfectly for the needs of our community now. We're in conflict, and relationships are frayed, with the (DA's) office, with the community, with the county commissioners, with nonprofit groups, with the media, with the public.”
Flaherty said Tuesday he plans on seeking re-election.
Hummel touts his expertise in conflict resolution and helping groups reach consensus, as well as his experience as a defense attorney.
A member of the Oregon bar since 1995, Hummel is also a member of the District of Columbia bar. He has practiced law in the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs' tribal court.
As a city councilor, Hummel introduced the ordinance in 2004 to protect individuals from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. He advocated for the development of a public transit system and for Juniper Ridge, a property on the north end of Bend the city identified for mixed-use development that has remained largely empty.
In March 2007 Hummel resigned from the council to pursue education that would allow him to connect his law career with government service.
He then left the area, earning a master's degree in international development studies from Johns Hopkins University. He spent two years in Liberia, helping the African nation rebuild its justice system after years of civil war. During that period, he said, he managed a staff of 50, developed a sex crimes prosecution unit for the country and trained police officers, judges and prosecutors.
Upon his return, he headed the Oregon Consensus Institute at Portland State University before returning to Bend. He currently serves as the state and federal policy director for the Oregon Primary Care Association.
Hummel doesn't believe working as a prosecutor is necessary to serve as district attorney.
“You need to have criminal law experience, but there's a difference between being a DA and being a prosecutor,” he said. “The DA is a manager who needs executive management experience and budget experience. They need to be a consensus builder who is developing relationships. ... We elected a prosecutor last time who didn't have any executive management experience and that didn't turn out so well.”
Hummel said he's tried 100 criminal jury trials and would trust his staff to handle the majority of cases rather than serving as top prosecutor.
According to a news release, Hummel has 29 endorsements, including the mayors of Bend, Redmond and Sisters.
“We need a strong manager, someone with executive management experience in addition to criminal law experience,” Hummel said. “I am the candidate that is right at this time.”