It's been a year of transitions in the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, but the Nov. 2 general election will soon settle that.
Republican Bill Montgomery, who defeated incumbent Rick Romley in the Aug. 24 primary, now will face Libertarian Michael Kielsky, an attorney from Scottsdale who vows to reduce bureaucracy. No Democrats sought the post.
Montgomery, 43, who formerly worked as a deputy county prosecutor for two stints, last served as the head of the auto theft division before resigning on April 30 soon after Romley returned to the office, which has a $65 million annual budget and 850 employees. Romley replaced former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas earlier this year when he ran for attorney general, but lost the Republican primary to outgoing schools chief Tom Horne.
Montgomery, who supports the death penalty, is running on the platform of focusing on hot-button issues, including heavily pursuing crimes committed by illegal immigrants, elder abuse and crimes against children.
Montgomery's opponents have voiced concern over whether he would be a "clone" of Thomas, for whom Montgomery once worked, but Montgomery, an Army veteran who served in Desert Storm, said his military background would help him be his own man in the county attorney's post.
Kielsky, a 31-year resident of Arizona, said in campaign literature that if elected, he would make sure no more funds are allocated for victimless crimes. Kielsky opposes SB 1070, Arizona's controversial immigration law, contending that it's a poorly conceived law, and that it pursues media headlines instead of pursuing violent offenders.
Kielsky does not fully support the death penalty, citing errors on the justice system while implementing it. He did not return calls seeking comment.
On his Facebook page, Kielsky said, "I make a simple pledge: As Maricopa County Attorney, I will devote the resources of the office to the prosecution of those individuals who have committed crimes involving force or fraud against another, identifiable, victim with a focus on victim restitution. Until such time as these efforts no longer consume all resources of the office, no efforts will be expended on prosecution of victimless crimes.
"Government should not become the primary agent of violating the rights of individuals, including the right just to be left alone," Kielsky added.
Montgomery has said he was glad he was not selected as the interim county attorney because the time away from the office allowed him to campaign full time and "criss-cross" the county for the year, speaking to numerous organizations.
"I am not here now running for county attorney to justify or defend how Andy Thomas ran the office," he said. "I'm talking about how Bill Montgomery is going to run the office, which is different from Andy Thomas or Rick Romley."
While working as deputy county attorney, Montgomery also prosecuted crimes such as felony DUIs, manslaughter and aggravated assault. His other assignments have included prosecuting repeat offenders and gang members.