Criminal defense attorney Ben Butler says working as prosecutor would be a dream job, but he has a big test in front of him Nov. 4 as he runs against incumbent Teresa Hensley.
She’s been Cass County’s prosecutor for nearly a decade.
Butler said he has been a behind-the-scenes guy helping Republican campaigns locally and across the state, but seeking the prosecutor’s spot is his first personal run in politics.
He says he has the courtroom experience to help victims and put the bad guys in prison.
“I love the practice of law, and at the end of the day, that’s how I feed my kids,” Butler said. “When I looked at this race, this is something that would allow me to use my talents and career choice.”
If elected, he’d make prosecution his career rather than aiming for higher office, he said.
“I want to be prosecutor here in this county and coach Little League,” he said.
Although Hensley ran for Congress unsuccessfully two years ago against incumbent Vicky Hartzler, she says she wants to continue a career in prosecution.
“I still have victims with cases that matter to me,” said Hensley, a Democrat.
She said she has established a high-quality prosecutorial team that has overseen 21 murder convictions during her tenure.
“We’ve had some really tough cases that we have won,” Hensley said. “I’m proud of the work we do in what we file and what we don’t file. I am very proud of the judgment that we use in that office.”
She said her staffers never go into a courtroom unprepared, which contributes to the success of her office.
“We make a difference in how (victims) are able to travel through the justice system,” she said.
If elected, Butler said, he would handle more cases himself than Hensley typically does.
“I would be actively involved in the courtroom,” Butler said. “You would see my feet in the courtroom questioning witnesses, trying cases, delivering opening and closing statements, and working on trial strategy.”
Hensley said her opponent has been practicing law for four years, but she gained 14 years of courtroom experience before becoming prosecutor. She said she brings that experience to each of the 8,000 cases her office files each year, as well as handling administrative duties.
“It would be inefficient for the elected prosecutor to not delegate the cases to assistant prosecutors,” she said.
“To concentrate my efforts to be in the courtroom on one single case, spending weeks getting that trial ready myself would take my judgment away from all the cases.”
Occupation: Criminal defense attorney
Education: Law degree and bachelor’s in political science and philosophy, both from the University of Missouri-Columbia
Previous public service: None
Website: Facebook: Ben Butler for Cass County Prosecutor
Address: Lake Winnebago
Occupation: Cass County prosecutor
Education: Bachelor's in history, William Jewell College; law degree, University of Missouri-Kansas City
Previous public service: Raymore alderman, 1991; Cass County prosecutor, 2005-present