Editorial note: This is the twenty-first in our series of electronic interviews with candidates in contested primaries at both the Statewide level and throughout Harris County. We have sent eight open-ended questions to each of the candidates. The following are verbatim copies of the questions sent out and the answers received.
Kim Ogg, candidate in the Democratic primary for Harris County District Attorney
Texpatriate: What is your name?
KO: Kim Ogg
T: What office are you running for?
KO: I am running in the Democratic primary election for Harris County District Attorney.
T: What is your profession/occupation?
KO: I am a criminal defense and family lawyer in private practice fighting for the rights of families, individuals accused of crimes, and police officers and citizens whose civil rights have been violated.
I am a former Executive Director of Crime Stoppers and led that organization to record years in which thousands of felons were captured and prosecuted for unsolved murders, rapes, robberies and serious property crimes.
I served as Houston’s first Anti-Gang Task Force Director under Mayor Bob Lanier and oversaw a 40 percent reduction in gang violence.
I started my career in 1986 as a Harris County Assistant District Attorney and was promoted to Chief Felony Prosecutor.
T: In just a few words, what does the office you are running for do and what are its responsibilities?
KO: The office of District Attorney is a key partner in our criminal justice system, keeping the residents of Harris County safe and working to ensure that justice is served.
Strictly speaking, the office represents the state in criminal cases – working with law enforcement agencies in the investigation and preparation of cases to be heard before the criminal courts.
Yet, an effective District Attorney must do the job in a way that ensures everyone in our county has access to justice. In my view, that includes:
- Fighting criminal street gangs that are ruining our young men and women and destroying the peace of our neighborhoods;
- Treating crime victims with dignity and providing meaningful services to them through focused prosecution of violent criminals;
- Insuring that the conviction of those accused of crimes are based upon sound evidence that meets national standards so that no innocent person is wrongly convicted;
- Striking at organized crime from the top down, instead of focusing on small-time drug users;
- Putting non-violent offenders to work cleaning our waterways and bayous to repay our community;
- Using 21st century tactics to prosecute white collar criminals who victimize businesses and hurt our economic prosperity; and
- Prosecuting polluters who ruin our citizens’ health through environmental crimes.
T: If you are running against an incumbent (primary or general), do you think the incumbent has failed? If so, why specifically?
KO: Our current District Attorney is complicit in a system that is disenfranchising a generation of young people who may have made mistakes, but are not the real criminals who make our county less safe. Instead of targeting violent criminals and gang members who commit serious crimes, she is wasting taxpayer money jailing thousands of low-level drug offenders, including youth and economically disadvantaged criminals who enter the criminal justice system with no way out. I intend to change the focus of prosecution to the actual dismantling of street gangs and organized crime which will reduce violent and serious property crimes countywide.
T: What would be your three biggest priorities if elected?
KO: I will work to make our county safer by shifting the focus of prosecution away from low-level drug possession cases to the actual dismantling of street gangs and organized crime. I will prioritize prosecution of violent criminals, white-collar thieves, environmental polluters, and those who would betray the public trust through corruption and oppression.
I intend to promote reform of our grand jury system so that the system of community checks and balances better reflects the entire community.
I will insure that our District Attorney’s Office is accessible and responsive to the public by insuring that crime victim’s rights, as well as those of the accused, are respected and served.
T: What distinguishes you from your opponent(s)? Why should people specifically vote for you?
KO: I am proud to run on my record as the former Executive Director of Crime Stoppers, the former and first City of Houston Anti-Gang Task Force Director and a former Chief Felony Prosecutor in the Harris County District Attorney’s office where I prosecuted murderers, rapists, robbers and serious property offenders. I have a detailed plan to make our county safer by refocusing our limited public safety resources to dismantle street gangs and organized crime and prioritizing prosecution of the criminals who are responsible for much of the crime that plagues our city, county and citizens.
By way of contrast, my opponent in the Democratic primary has a criminal arrest record, has had his license suspended by the bar twice and has referred to his candidacy in the past as a ‘joke.’
Safety is no laughing matter, particularly when it comes to the need for real change in the District Attorney’s office. That’s why I am running and why I respectfully ask for the vote of your readers.
T: What is the most important thing you have learned thus far in the campaign?
KO: I’ve been struck by the multiple injustices that are being done because of the current lack of leadership in the District Attorney’s office.
I’ve seen evidence of this in my own practice. Yet, on the campaign trail, I’ve met so many more people who have been impacted by the current policy that focuses on jailing low-level offenders while crime cartels and local gangs – responsible for murders, human trafficking and the child sex trade, identity theft and burglaries of cars and homes – are allowed to proliferate.
I am more committed than ever to winning this campaign and starting the hard work to make our county safer.