Why I'm Running

I am running for Hennepin County Attorney because it is not enough to just call out injustice. We need to all be part of creating change, the kind of change that raises expectations for justice and human dignity in Hennepin County. As a Richfield council member and a practicing attorney– who represents minority communities and business owners across the metro– I have been one of many calling for change, equity and transparency in how local government and our criminal/legal systems operate. As a Latino of Puerto Rican descent, a father and husband, and a business owner and entrepreneur, I know that only through creating a richer dialogue with every stakeholder impacted by the Hennepin County Attorney's Office can we begin to create the deep structural change we need– but we need leadership that is present and accountable, something we have lacked. 

I have been present with community before, during and after the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing trauma and racial reckoning we experienced. We now must again face head on the systemic injustices his death has illuminated, like so many deaths before his also have. As a council member in Richfield, I have led on criminal justice reform efforts empowering prosecutors to seal records as part of the plea bargaining process. I have worked on civil rights litigation to expand voting rights for those convicted of felonies, and I have fought to disrupt criminal recidivism through re-entry support work for formerly incarcerated individuals. In my work as the founding and lead attorney at Trautman-Martin Law, I know how to lead teams of lawyers to achieve phenomenal outcomes for both individuals and the rule of law. 

The spotlight on police misconduct and crime are exposing the deep structural injustices, fear, and mistrust that our communities are facing. At this critical time in our County’s and Nation’s history, we need elected officials in our most impactful local offices to truly bring their constituencies along with them, so that our systems can become fairer, more accountable, and dynamic to the moment we are in. 

There is a common thread between survivors of crime who feel violated and betrayed, people who experience the criminal legal system as unjust, and people who are overwhelmed by the sometimes crushing bureaucracy in county government. Everyone expects fairness and dignity. Every time we miss that mark, the gap between community and government grows wider. As we rally together to speak to the injustices where the legal system has reduced faith and trust, we must also repair that trust through systems level changes. Fairness, trust, and safety are inseparable.

The following priorities are opportunities where we can acknowledge shortcomings, expect more, and execute the powerful work of repairing and improving our legal system to help shrink that gap between community and government, and create safety through trust.

Address Economic and Racial Disparities

Overwhelmingly, poor people and people of color have radically different experiences and outcomes in our criminal legal system. This leads to distrust in the system that contributes to less safety for all. To interrupt cycles of poverty and discrimination,

I will prioritize:

  • Reducing reliance on fines and fees for low level offenses that impact communities of color and lower income residents at higher rates.
  • Advocating to move our wealth-based cash bail system to a risk and safety based system.
  • Expanding programs to help people seal records and receive expungements, when appropriate, so they can fully and confidently seek employment, housing and participate in society.
  • Working with community, business, and government partners to create the opportunities people need to support themselves and their families.

Prioritize Violent Crime and Sexual Assault

The criminal justice system was not designed to fix addiction or mental illness. We will not arrest our way out of the social issues that continue to impact all members of our community, (i.e. low level drug, safety and livability crimes) so this requires new approaches that support our neighbors to be better, while not criminalizing behavior that is rooted in illness. Focusing more resources on these lower level crimes actually lessens the County’s ability to more effectively and nimbly prosecute and address violent crime and sexual assault cases. 

Survivors of violent crime are sometimes afraid to report crimes. This may be because of low clearance rates, and consequently low trust in the system. Regardless, this perpetuates a culture of violence and further erodes trust in our public systems. By focusing more resources in the Attorney’s Office towards prosecution of violent crime and sexual assault, we will work to protect our most impacted victims, and begin to build trust among those who often feel unrepresented or unheard in our criminal justice system. 

I will prioritize:

  • Quickly solving and prosecuting more violent crimes by dedicating resources and building trust in the community. 
  • Working with community and criminal justice partners to develop innovative and proven solutions like violence interruption programming.

Domestic and Sexual Violence

Few crimes break trust more than sexual violence. This is an area that remains under-resourced. We have to not only believe women, but take seriously all survivors who have the courage to report domestic and sexual violence. 

I will prioritize:

  • Domestic and Sexual violence cases- there remains a backlog and of assault cases. Not only do these cases need more resources, we need more culturally competent advocates and advocacy systems. This includes more training and capacity to prosecute crimes against people with disabilities.
  • Transparency - I will commission and make public a study of how domestic and sexual violence cases are handled in Hennepin County similar to that conducted in Ramsey County. I will put this data to work comparing the HCAO and police departments to other jurisdictions in service of promoting transparency and accountability and to learn where we can do better. Good leadership requires holding ourselves accountable where we have failed.
  • Collaboration - We have a strong crime victim advocacy community in Minnesota with a wealth of knowledge. Creating a community advisory board will put their wisdom to work developing the tools, policies, and practices to ensure every survivor and each case receives the attention and treatment they deserve. 

Restorative Justice

Restorative justice, when properly implemented, can bring more accountability and more healing to all parties, including those impacted by crime and the perpetrators of crime, resulting in safer and more whole communities for everyone. Our current system often creates more harm than it prevents, shutting out those who have been harmed, and simply pursuing punitive measures rather than supporting true accountability. 

I will prioritize:

  • Strengthening and expanding restorative justice programs and policies for both juveniles and adults. Restorative justice programs have shown a great ability to lower the chances of recidivism. They also give the prosecutors different tools to center the voice of survivors and victims of crime.

Economic and Workplace Justice

Crimes that are solely economic are less enforced. Crimes where employers steal and take advantage of workers are virtually never enforced. It is a simple fact that financial theft against corporations is prosecuted regularly, but less aggressively than theft against our workers, often low income. As chairperson for “Cities Against Wage Theft and Tax Fraud,” I am leading cities in the Metro Area to partner with the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office and state agencies to bring needed accountability to bad-faith employers, and relief to workers who currently have no advocate, and will continue this work as County Attorney.

I will prioritize:

  • Leveraging networks from various municipal agencies to prosecute wage theft for the first time in county history.

System Accountability

Police and prosecutors wield enormous power. This is why their conduct must be above reproach.

I will prioritize:

  • Vigorously prosecuting crimes committed by police and excluding officers who have lied in the course of their duties from testifying.
  • Creating a Prosecution Integrity Unit that will investigate complaints regarding past and current prosecutions and provide ethics training to prosecutors and law enforcement partners.

New Approaches to Persistent Problems

The many problems we have tried, and failed, to solve with the criminal justice system need new solutions and approaches, plain and simple. There is an opportunity to utilize more data driven approaches to help eliminate disparities and improve outcomes. 

I will prioritize:

  • Better data collection practices. We know the three biggest indicators of recommitting crimes are access to 1. Healthcare (especially care for mental health/chemical dependency). 2. Gainful employment. 3.Stable, affordable housing. We should not accept plea bargains in Hennepin county without meaningfully assessing these key indicators of support. 
  • Working with community and government partners to develop and implement new strategies for dealing with juvenile delinquency, mental illness, and substance abuse. We need courageous and innovative leadership to create new ways of addressing these persistent public health issues. 
  • Creating a “Prison to Labor” pipeline. Gainful employment is one of the best indicators of a person permanently leaving the criminal justice system. There are several ways we can make full and gainful employment a reality, but we need to track this indicator more effectively to make sure county services are having their intended impacts. 

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Prepared & paid for by Simon Trautmann for Hennepin County Attorney, 619 S Tenth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55404.

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We need your help to win this election. Your donation can make all the difference in helping us bring about change in Hennepin County by electing Simon Trautmann as Hennepin County Attorney on November 6th! With your donation we can spread awareness about his platform and get out the vote on Election Day. Let's do this together!
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