Vogel seeks to oust Ward
By Steve Estes
Monroe County State Attorney race
When primary voters hit the polls on Tuesday, open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Democratic voters will have to choose between incumbent State Attorney Dennis Ward and challenger Catherine Vogel.
Ward unseated Vogel’s former boss Mark Kohl four years ago on a platform of punishing public corruption and his office has since tried several high profile cases, including the prosecution of former Superintendent of Schools Randy Acevedo and his wife Monique for their roles in stealing nearly $400,000 from the school district, as well as Mosquito Control Supervisor Mark Spoto and Bahama Village Community Land Trust Director Jean Sawyer.
The winner of the primary will go on to face Republican Kohl in November who seeks to regain the seat he lost four years ago.
Vogel started her professional career as a social worker and earned her law degree in 1981 and went to work for then Miami-Dade State Attorney Janet Reno. She remained in Dade County until 2001 when she accepted a job as Chief Assistant State Attorney for Monroe County.
Vogel boasts a record of more than 100 felony prosecutions and says she hasn’t lost a case since 1994.
Vogel left the State Attorney’s Office shortly after Ward was elected and entered private practice specializing in criminal law, and currently teaches law at the Florida State University.
Vogel is active in civic groups, including the Key West Women’s Club and Sunrise Rotary. She is also active in the Relay for Life program.
Shlould she win the job, Vogel says she: promises to administer the office with the zeal and experience her extensive and outstanding background demonstrates. Unlike the present State Attorney, she will use her trial experience and skills to personally prosecute important cases. Recognizing the ethical guidelines that govern the prosecutor’s office, she and her staff will try cases in the courtroom, not in the press.
Ward began his public life as a member of the US Marine Corps with service in Vietnam. He entered the field of law enforcement after that, serving as a patrol deputy and a detective for the Miami Beach Police Department.
He is a former Monroe County Assistant State Attorney and Monroe County Public Defender with over 40 years in the law enforcement profession, on the streets or in the courtroom.
Ward says he is proud of his accomplishments outside of the public corruption cases, which include counseling programs for domestic abuse victims and a program to entice men not to commit domestic violence.
He says he has aggressively targeted child pornographers and has hosted seminars with public officials on sunshine law guidelines and ethics training.
He has run stings on unlicensed contractors and instituted a paperless work flow in his office that he says saved the taxpayers thousands. In addition, he says his moves to enhance technology in the office have saved more money.
He also boasts of a positive record in successful prosecution of resource violators, particularly lobster infractions.
Should he win the job, Ward promises:
To continue to aggressively pursue public corruption cases and to continue to aggressively pursue cases against women and children.