By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
In the final day for Wyoming’s primary election candidate filings, two challengers finally emerged for Laramie County district attorney. However, neither of the candidates is the incumbent.
Former Cheyenne City Attorney Sylvia Hackl and Thomas Callison, with Legal Aid of Wyoming, both filed with the Laramie County clerk’s office on Friday, just hours before the filing period closed, as candidates for the office now held by embattled District Attorney Leigh Anne Manlove.
Hackl told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that she decided to run because no one else had filed for the office and she felt it was important to have someone on the ballot.
“I personally think some other attorneys who might have been interested in running are waiting to see how the situation with the current DA would unfold,” she said. “But when we got to the afternoon of the last filing date, I thought we had to have someone on the ballot.”
Callison did not immediately respond to a Cowboy State Daily request for comment on Friday.
Hackl believes she has the skill set to guide the DA’s office back to a “fully-functioning, efficient” one that is able to work with all stakeholders in the community, including law enforcement, judges and crime victims.
Hackl said she has 22 years of experience in criminal law, along with trial experience gained during her years as a public defender and with the Wyoming Attorney General’s office.
Hackl said she was asked by former Gov. Jim Geringer to solve problems in the state public defender’s office, an experience she said shows she can take control of an office in chaos and get it reorganized and running efficiently.
The Wyoming Supreme Court is deciding whether to bar Manlove from the practice of law as recommended by the Board of Professional Responsibility, a group that oversees the behavior of the state’s lawyers.
The BPR has ruled that Manlove is not competently fulfilling the duties of her office. Among other things, she has been accused of exaggerating budget cuts on her office to justify dismissing hundreds of cases in Laramie County courts.
As a licensed attorney, Manlove could still run for the office. State law requires a person running for the office to have a license to practice law. However, there is no such requirement to hold the office.
Hackl said she wanted to maintain a distance between herself and the Manlove proceedings because she did not feel they should be a part of her campaign.
Establishing a strong, capable staff in the DA office is one of her top priorities, if elected, she said.
“It’s important to find out what the staff’s concerns are and move forward with them appropriately,” Hackl said. “Most of the people I have worked with would say I’m straightforward, open and I communicate well. If somebody wants to know where they stand, they will know in a very polite, professional way.”
However, she jokingly added that her daughter may not quite agree with that sentiment.