Polk County attorney won’t seek re-election; former Senate candidate announces run

Polk County attorney John Sarcone will not seek a ninth term. Former U.S. Sen. candidate Kimberly Graham has announced her intention to replace him. (Sarcone photo, left, courtesy of the Polk County Attorney's Office. Graham photo, right, courtesy of the Graham Senate campaign.)

Polk County Attorney John Sarcone will not run for re-election next year, and former U.S. Senate candidate Kimberly Graham has entered the race to replace him.

KCCI broke the news of Sarcone’s retirement Wednesday night. Sarcone, a Democrat, was first elected as the Polk County attorney in 1991 and is currently serving his eighth term. Before becoming the county attorney, Sarcone worked as a defense attorney with the Polk County Offender Advocate Office and as an environmental lawyer.

Graham, also a Democrat, has been “exploring a bid” for the position for several months. In a statement posted to her social media Thursday, Graham said she would focus resources on prosecuting violent crimes instead of nonviolent misdemeanors and that she would advocate for more preventative programs for kids.

“Polk County needs someone with the skills, background and determination to institute necessary systemic changes,” Graham said.

Graham’s Thursday statement identified the prosecution of Des Moines Register reporter Andrea Sahouri as a failing of Sarcone’s leadership. Sahouri was arrested in June 2020 while covering a protest. Graham tweeted her opposition to Sarcone’s decision to prosecute in March, shortly after Sahouri’s trial concluded and several weeks before Graham formerly expressed interest in the position.

Sarcone defended his decision to prosecute Sahouri, saying it would have been special treatment to dismiss her charges.

Assistant Polk County attorney Laura Roan also announced her candidacy on Thursday. According to a release from her campaign, Roan is a “career prosecutor” who has worked with county attorney’s offices in Wapello and Jasper counties. Roan intends to “modernize” the office and be more transparent to the public, if elected.

The election will take place in June 2022.

Editor’s note: Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter Katie Akin is a former Des Moines Register reporter who testified in the trial of Andrea Sahouri.

Katie Akin
Reporter Katie Akin began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.