Retiring incumbent Mark Huddleston mingled with a lunchtime crowd of Beth Heckert’s well-wishers at the Jackson County Justice Building’s plaza on September 14. His stated purpose–to bestow his blessings and endorsement upon his choice for the candidate to succeed him. After the brief meet-and-greet, he took the mic to introduce her. “Jackson County’s next District Attorney, Beth Heckert,” he said. Huddleston then praised what he termed the aspirant’s outstanding qualifications. “She has the most experience,” he said of the veteran of 22 years in his office whose current job description reads, Chief Deputy District Attorney. “Experience matters,” he added.
Heckert flashed a dazzling smile that camouflages her tough record of having prosecuted more homicide cases than any other attorney in the JCDA’s office. It might stymie unwary criminals to know she also spent seven years with the County’s drug enforcement team, (JACNET). Since 2000, her position as Chief Deputy D.A., has entailed hiring, training, and supervising many of their staff deputies.
Both she and Huddleston expressed joyful accomplishments regarding their record of combating child abuse.
Along with Huddleston’s endorsement, Heckert won praise from retired Judge William Purdy, who predicted, if elected, she’d do an excellent job as District Attorney.
Huddleston and Heckert once worked under former boss, Bill Juba, who died of a heart attack at age 46 in July of, 1992. Oregon’s then Governor, Barbara Roberts, appointed Huddleston to fill the position that he has subsequently retained through the elections process.
Heckert’s comments Wednesday highlighted her earliest ambitions to become a District Attorney, and her educational pursuit of that goal. Sometimes that entailed commuting to Salem for law studies, while working in Juba’s Southern Oregon office.
Although the primary election to decide the non-partisan position takes place in May of 2012, she already faces competition. A few weeks ago, Rob Patridge filed for a spot on the ballot. According to Huddleston, another Assistant D. A. may be considering entering the race, but has yet to make it official.
“A District Attorney should have experience, dedication, passion …we need to hold criminals accountable, and give victims a voice in the justice system,”
Heckert said. “With your support, I want to continue to do just that.”
By F. C. Blake
Of the Independent