By Chris Hagan
Review Staff Writer
An Orion Township man is hoping to be the next prosecutor in Oakland County.
As the year moves on you might see more signs with the name “Mike Goetz for Prosecutor” staked in lawns and peppered around the county. Goetz is a nine-year Orion Township resident whose experience as a prosecutor spans nearly 30 years.
Goetz decided to run for Oakland County prosecutor in August of 2014 and he filed later that year. He then announced his is candidacy in the beginning of 2015.
“I can’t stand by and let what was one of the best prosecutor’s offices in the country go downhill to the point where it’s affecting the lives and the safety of the people that live in Oakland County,” Goetz said.
He’s currently a senior assistant attorney general for the State of the Michigan assigned to the Public Integrity Unit within the Criminal Division. Prior to working with them, he was a major crimes prosecutor with the Oakland County Prosecutors Office. He was also assigned to the Oakland County Violent Gang task force for five years.
The 54 year-old Michigan State University graduate said he’s frustrated with the current Oakland County Prosecutor, Jessica Cooper.
Cooper was elected Oakland County Prosecutor in November of 2008. She is the first woman to ever hold that position and she spent eight years as a district court judge, 14 years as a circuit court judge, and just over six years as a judge of the Michigan Court of Appeals.
With Cooper’s judicial experience, Goetz believes that puts him at an advantage as he is a career prosecutor.
“When the current prosecutor came into the office, she came in as a politician. She has never been a trial prosecutor, She’s never tried a single case as a prosecutor, an attorney or judge,” he said. “Now she was a judge, and she’s watched and participated in trials as a judge, but in 40 years she’s never personally tried a case that I am aware of.”
“I’ve tried hundreds of cases. I’ve dealt with thousands of victims, on homicides, car-jackings, armed robberies. You name it. One of the things that bothered me the most is that she never provided adequate training for her assistants.”
Goetz is currently the only candidate running on the Republican ticket. He’s won the endorsement of several of his parties most notable politicians. According to Goetz, he’s won the endorsement from Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, Congressman Mike Bishop, Rep. Brad Jacobsen and Rep. Mike Gingell.
In November, if voters choose Goetz, he plans on implementing a new training regime within the prosecutor’s office and looks to secure free training. He said he wants to return continuing education opportunities to the more- than 100 assistant prosecutors. He said he wants to make the office more transparent and lessen the restrictions on assistant prosecutors when it comes to dealing with the media.
Goetz also wants to improve the office’s moral which he says is at an all-time low and he plans to still be in the court room.
“I would expect nothing from one my assistants that I wouldn’t personally do myself. In fact, I plan on still trying cases as prosecutor,” he said. “It’s a multi-facetted job at the top but one of the things I think is important is to show the people what you’re doing. You know what you’ve been elected to do and the only way to do that is to get out into the court room.”
Goetz, who’s also a volunteer firefighter with Orion Township and knows he’s at a political disadvantage when it comes to competing with Cooper. He said Cooper has had ample experience running a campaign and years of exposure.
“The biggest challenge that I face right now is that I’m not a politician. I’ve never been a politician and quite frankly I’ve never had any desire to be a politician,” Goetz said. “What I am is a career prosecutor running for a political position so getting my name and my face out there is my biggest challenge.”
By Chris Hagan