There will be a new county attorney in Mille Lacs County come January.
Jan Jude, who has held the county attorney position since 2002, lost a three-way primary run-off to Assistant County Attorney Mark Herzing and private law attorney Joe Walsh.
Herzing and Walsh will now square off in the November election to become the new Mille Lacs county attorney.
Herzing was the top vote-getter with 1,102 votes (39 percent). Walsh tallied 998 votes (35 percent). Jude received 721 votes, or 25 percent of the vote.
Both Herzing and Walsh expressed confidence of emerging victorious from the Tuesday, Aug. 12, primary.
“I thought I’d make it through the primary, but breathed a sigh of relief when it became official,” Herzing said.
“I was confident going in,” Walsh said. “I knew the support I had out there.”
The two attorneys are now focused on the November general election.
Herzing said he will work to distinguish himself to voters that he is the only candidate with real life experience in the county attorney’s office.
“I will bring that real-life experience to the position of county attorney,” Herzing said.
Walsh, meanwhile, said he will continue to campaign on a platform stressing honesty, integrity, and trust.
Despite coming out of the primary as the top vote-getter by the slim margin of about 100 votes, Herzing did not show well in the city of Princeton. Princeton resident Walsh carried the city with 182 of the city’s 256 votes. That was more than double what any other candidate received in the county’s largest city. Jude was second in the city with 90 ballots cast in her favor. Herzing wasn’t far behind with 84 votes.
It was a different story for Herzing in Milaca, his hometown. Herzing carried 204 of the city’s 412 ballots cast. Walsh was second with 122 votes while Jude trailed with 86 votes in the county seat.
When tabulating the combined votes of Princeton and Milaca, the county’s two largest cities, it was Walsh who emerged as the top vote-getter with 304 votes. Herzing was second with 288 votes. Jude had 176 votes.
Jude carried her hometown of Foreston, as well as Pease, Wahkon and South Harbor Township on the east side of Mille Lacs Lake. Walsh won in 12 of the 25 precincts. Herzing carried nine precincts.
In addition to a strong showing in the city of Milaca, Herzing had very strong support in the townships of Borgholm, and Milo.
The primary election brought to an end an election campaign season that pitted Jude and Herzing against each other over Herzing’s job status.
In June, Jude put Herzing, one of her assistants, on paid leave of absence because a Mille Lacs County personnel policy led her to believe Herzing’s candidacy might present a conflict of interest in the county attorney’s office. A county personnel committee concurred and recommended Herzing be put on unpaid leave.
The County Board then accepted the committee recommendation and placed Herzing on unpaid leave until he is no longer a candidate for the county attorney’s office.
As the board ruling stands, Herzing is not able to return to the job he has held for nearly a decade.