Education: Juris Doctorate, bachelor’s degree
Years in Yavapai County: six
Occupation: Deputy County Attorney
Previous elected service: None
Advisory board/Commission experience: Arizona State Bar Criminal Rules Committee–six years and Habitat for Humanity Legal Counsel Pro Bono–six years.
Running on a campaign platform of experience and tough sentences for criminal offenders, Deputy County Attorney Sheila Polk is poised and ready for Tuesday’s GOP county primary.
Polk, who was named Arizona’s top felony prosecutor of the year by the Arizona Prosecuting Attorney’s Council in August, is vying with fellow Yavapai Deputy County Attorney David Mackey to replace retiring county attorney Chick Hastings.
Encouraged by friends and colleagues to enter the race after Hastings announced his retirement, Polk believes her 18 years of criminal and civil experience will help secure her a win in the primary elections.
“I love what I do,. I really get involved in what I do. I’m very committed to what I do and I’m good at it,” Polk said. “I’m somebody people like to work with and like to work for because I treat everybody with respect. I don’t care who you are, I don’t care what your job is, I don’t care how little or how big it may be, you’re going to get the same degree of respect from me that everybody else does.”
Polk was the assistant attorney general at the Arizona Attorney General’s Office for 11 years before coming to Prescott six years ago to work for the Yavapai County Attorney’s Office. During her six years, Polk has successfully prosecuted child molesters, first-degree homicide cases, domestic violence and other serious felony cases. From 1994-97 she was also the legal advisor for the sheriff’s office, the board of supervisors, the public fiduciary, the assessor and the treasurer.
“I really believe it’s imperative that the next county attorney understands everything we do, not just criminal,” Polk said. “My opponent has experience in the criminal section only. I started out in the civil section. I have the background in management and personnel issues. I think what makes me uniquely qualified really is the commitment that I bring to the job, the personal conviction of what our office is about and how to go about getting it.”
Polk said she has been endorsed by the three fraternal orders of police in Yavapai County and the state lodge. She is also supported by the Associated Highway Patrolman of Arizona the Sedona/Verde Valley Republican Men’s Club, she said.
“We really have a unique quality of life up here (Yavapai County) and it’s not just the low crime rate,” Polk said. “But to me, the low crime rate is one of the essential things about the quality of life up here and I’m very aware of that fact. That’s what really drives me as a prosecutor and as a county attorney is how do we preserve that low crime rate.”
“The way I think we do it,” Polk continued, "and I know I’m just a piece of it, this is not the answer for all of Yavapai County, but with what I can do and what I do well, I think tough and immediate consequences for criminal behavior is the key to keeping the crime rate down and that’s really what drives me.”
Polk said that each criminal case must be handled individually and in some cases juveniles offenders and first-time non-violent adult offenders should have the opportunity to attend a rehabilitation program.
But, “If you are a violent offender, if you're going to take a gun and commit a crime, I think you need to go to prison,” Polk said. "I’m not looking at rehabilitating an adult who takes a gun and commits a crime with it. I think that person is too dangerous and I’m really not willing to spend time thinking I’m going to get him changed through a program of counseling.”
“If you’re the victim of a crime, it doesn’t matter how small or how unimportant it may seem in the bigger picture, to you it is a big deal,” Polk continued. “And I think that’s the way as prosecutors we need to feel. We need to always be enthusiastic and aggressive in fighting crime”