After the retirement of County Attorney James Backstrom, the Dakota County Board of Commissioners has the authority to appoint an interim County Attorney. Under state law, the Board of Commissioners appoints a qualified individual to serve as county attorney until the position can be filled by voters at the end of the current term. That will be the November 2022 election.
To be eligible for appointment as County Attorney, an individual must be an attorney and reside in Dakota County at the time of appointment. The County Board received five applications and appointed a subcommittee to review the eligibility and qualifications of each applicant for recommendation back to the Board.
On March 23, 2021, upon review of the subcommittee recommendation, the board adopted a resolution identifying three finalist candidates for appointment.
The full board will schedule public interviews of the finalists for later this spring.
To provide public comment to the county commissioners, please go to the County Attorney Appointment Feedback Form. Comments may be included in the meeting materials at future county board meeting regarding the county attorney appointment.
Candidates for Appointed County Attorney
Statements presented written by the candidates.
Kathryn M. Keena
I am the Chief Deputy in the Dakota County Attorney's Office and currently serve as the Acting Dakota County Attorney. I joined the office in April 2000 and have worked in both the criminal and civil divisions. In June 2013 I was promoted to the position of Criminal Division Head followed by my promotion to Chief Deputy in July 2019. My public service career includes working as a public defender in Douglas County followed by my service in the Lyon County Attorney's Office for seven years, five of those as the Lyon County Attorney.
I want to serve as the Dakota County Attorney so I can advance the mission of the office as our society addresses important social and criminal justice issues. My experience in key leadership positions has prepared me to effectively lead the office forward. In carrying out my duties, I will continue to act with integrity and balanced judgment to serve the best interests of the citizens of Dakota County.
Elizabeth Lamin is an accomplished prosecutor with over fifteen years of experience, handling thousands of criminal cases and trying complex homicides, shootings and other serious felonies. She graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2004, Magna Cum Laude, after which she clerked for Judge David Minge at the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Elizabeth began her career in Stearns County where she worked in a rural/urban setting handling all levels of criminal cases. More recently, she initiated a partnership in Ramsey County to bring together community members and offenders to promote community healing and reduce recidivism.
Elizabeth is a proud resident of Dakota County, where she is raising her children and where her elderly parents reside. Elizabeth would bring her strong work ethic, intellectual curiosity, and positive energy to an Office that can be a model for how law enforcement, community partners, and the justice system can work hand-in-hand to make the community safer for all constituencies. In the immediate term, her emphasis will be to remove the pandemic-related backlog and improve access to problem-solving courts, including drug court. She will promote alternatives to the criminal justice system where appropriate while continuing to hold offenders accountable.
I am a life-long resident and career-long public servant of Dakota County. I graduated, with honors, from Dartmouth College and the University of Minnesota Law School. For decades, I was a partner in a South Saint Paul law firm.
For 16 years, I was a state Representative for northern Dakota County. I served on virtually every committee that addressed the criminal justice system.
In 2004, Governor Pawlenty appointed me to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.
Governor Dayton appointed me to serve Dakota County as a district court judge in 2011. Since 2019, I have served as a senior judge.
In 1979 and 1987, the County Board filled County Attorney vacancies with staff attorneys who went on to be elected to the office. The appointment provided the appointee the elective advantage of running as an incumbent office holder.
I seek only to complete Mr. Backstrom's term. I have extensive experience in the Dakota County legal system as a lawyer, legislator, and judge. This experience will be helpful in serving as County Attorney and in addressing the backlog of cases resulting from the pandemic.
The next County Attorney will be selected in an open-seat election in 2022.