Washington County plans to appoint new Attorney

Washington County plans to appoint new Attorney

Election of interim official, appointed replacement will serve until 2024 election, unless petition interrupts process

Washington County District Attorney John Gish

WASHINGTON — County supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday morning to name a replacement for outgoing District Attorney John Gish rather than hold a special election for the position. The vote sets in motion plans to find a replacement for Gish, who will begin a position as Iowa’s Assistant Attorney General for Victim Services in late January.

County Supervisor Jack Seward Jr. said officials would begin seeking nominees immediately.

“My vision would be for the chairman to appoint two individuals from this board to review the applications that are accepted, and narrow it down to three or four that this board can interview as a whole,” he said.

County Auditor Dan Widmer said the public can still request a special election by petition, with a deadline of 14 days after an eventual nomination is announced. However, Gish said he recommended the nomination process, which is how he first came to serve the county in 2017.

“I think more lawyers will show interest in a meeting because it doesn’t take a lot of effort and time away from their work and practice,” Gish said at a work session last week. “Whereas, if you do a special election, you’re probably only going to get those who are willing to put in the time to campaign, get petitions, get signatures and things like that.”

While the county waits for applicants for the office, supervisors have appointed Anthony Janney as interim. Janney previously served as district attorney during Gish’s deployment to Kuwait in 2020 and was still on the county payroll as a part-time casual employee for the District Attorney’s Office.

Effective Jan. 16, Janney will return to full-time status as interim district attorney until a long-term replacement is appointed or selected.

“I think his knowledge of this area, his familiarity with law enforcement, the judges and the system in Washington County will provide continuity between my departure and the eventual successor,” Gish said. “This is the best possible solution, and I think he’s eager to get back to work in Washington.”

When an appointment is made, state code says the District Attorney’s office would be up for election again in the next general election, in this case, 2024. The office would then return to the length of its four-year term after an election. next in 2026, placing it again in the midterm election cycle.

AnnaMarie Ward also contributed to this report

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