District Court Judge John Wright administered the oath of office to new Lee County Attorney Ross Braden following Tuesday’s county board meeting. Braden said, afterwards, that he is excited to get to work.
“I am just elated, over-the-moon happy, excited to get started,” said Braden. “This is a goal I had prior to law school, I’ve always wanted to be a prosecuting attorney.”
Braden was appointed to the post on Feb. 14 following a 3-2 vote by the Lee County Board. He was one of three candidates to apply to replace Mike Short, who stepped down this month after nearly 40 years on the job.
Braden, who's worked in private practice as a defense attorney since 2012, said he’s spent the past week wrapping up his current caseload. He said now that that is complete, he can focus on his new job as prosecutor.
“I’ve already reached out and spoken to the  assistant county attorneys [who] have been in office under Mike Short for quite some time,” said Braden. “Speak with them about existing cases and moving forward with anything in the office that might be a contribution as far as being more productive.”
Braden will have to hit the ground running, as he enters office with plenty of pending cases, most recently a lawsuit filed on behalf of the Lee County Health Department over the possible pollution of Lake Chatfield near Keokuk. He said he is used to that from his time in private practice.
“Ever since I started back in 2012, I was contracted through the Public Defenders’ office, so I am used to getting cases after someone else has already had them and done some work with them,” said Braden. “So jumping into existing cases is nothing new to me.”
Braden will serve as County Attorney until May 2, which is about 18 months sooner than anticipated.
State law requires an appointee to serve until the next pending election, which in this case, is now a countywide bond referendum for a new Lee County Health Department building. The county board set the date for the special election prior to appointing Braden.
Braden said he’s reviewed state code and consulted with the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office about the special election. He said it just moves up his timeline for seeking re-election as a Democrat.
“Although it was unexpected, it would not have changed anything for me,” said Braden. “[Becoming a prosecutor] was a long-term goal that I have had.”
County Auditor Denise Fraise said there would be no primary. Instead, the local political parties would slate candidates for the post.