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Each election year, KBIA sits down with local candidates to hear what they have to say on their own terms. Some of these candidates you might see on TV every day. Others might be familiar by name only, if that. But KBIA interviews them all so that you can be informed when you go to the polls in November.

Candidate Conversations: Roger Johnson

Two speech bubbles on a purple background. There is a brown and gold podium in front of the speech bubbles with a spotlight on it. At the top of the image, it says "candidate conversations" in all-caps.
Ellie Lin

Roger Johnson is the incumbent Boone County prosecutor and is running unopposed.

Reagan Wiles: If you could tell me a little bit about your past experience and what made you interested in this position?

Roger Johnson: There's really, there's kind of a crisis really, in the criminal justice system. Not just in prosecution, but on the law enforcement side and the public defender's as well with the amount of resources that are available. Over the last year at the prosecutor's office, there was just a tremendous amount of turnover. And so talking with the people who left the office during that time, it's something that I really care about, the mission that we're working on, and wanted to see us doing better, really. And so some of the other things I wanted to focus on, a lot of it is about really having credibility with the judges and with, with the public that we should be charging appropriate charges. So, that we're not charging to try to leverage somebody into pleading guilty to something.

Reagan Wiles: So your campaign website says, "Our system of government, especially the criminal justice system, demands accountability." How do you plan on holding the system accountable in the future?

Roger Johnson: That's an important part, especially the criminal process right now, there's a lot of distrust in the community about prosecution in the criminal justice system. Part of that, I think, is that we're not doing a very good job right now explaining what it is we really do, and giving people our picture of what our life is really like. A lot of times, people's information about the criminal justice system now comes from serialized dramas and different dramatized shows on television. But for accountability, I think it's it's critically important that we're open and transparent with people about what we're doing. I'm working on additional outreach to the community and doing things like talking with you here today. And I'm very anxious to hear other people's perspective, because I've got a lot to learn about a lot of things. And so that's part of accountability, I think it is communicating with people and listening and hearing their feedback. But we're also trying to be really transparent about what we're doing.

Reagan Wiles: What makes you the best person to be Boone County's prosecuting attorney?

Roger Johnson: I'm not a politician, I probably shouldn't ever answer a question like that by saying I'm not the best person. But, that's not necessarily the way that I think. I never would come out and say I'm the best person for anything. In particular, I worked at the office for 12 years, I've really seen the trends in the community as far as violent crime, other trends and criminal activity and the response to those things. There aren't many professions in the legal career, like being a prosecutor, a lot of people you'll hear say, after they've left the profession, that being a prosecutor was the best job they had as an attorney. Part of the reason for that is your client is the community rather than any individual, and your job is to try to seek justice in every case.

Reagan Wiles: Is there anything else that you would like to highlight that we have not talked about yet?

Roger Johnson: The only other things I would say, I guess, is we really are trying to look for ways to take feedback in from the community. We're ultimately not going to agree with everybody on everything that we're doing, but I don't feel like I'm the ultimate person that knows all the answers. And I think it would be a mistake not to try to take into consideration what other people's wants and needs are. We're also setting up community events and we'll try to continue doing that and so that would be a great opportunity to have conversations with people.

Ava Neels studies journalism and Chinese language at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She was born and raised in South City St. Louis.
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