Former Hennepin County chief public defender Mary Moriarty will become the next county attorney, capping a bruising campaign to replace retiring chief prosecutor Mike Freeman.
With all precincts reporting Tuesday night, Moriarty defeated Martha Holton Dimick with 58% of the vote.
Voters had a stark contrast in candidates to shape the direction of criminal justice in the Minneapolis-centered Fourth Judicial District, choosing between Moriarty, 58, a progressive reformer and educator, and Holton Dimick, 69, an aggressive prosecutor and retired Hennepin County judge. The race became the latest flashpoint in a larger battle over the direction of law enforcement in many cities across the country and the candidates had different ideas on how to achieve public safety.
Moriarty earned the DFL endorsement and won the seven-candidate primary in August. She celebrated on Tuesday with supporters at the Gold Room Restaurant and Lounge in downtown Minneapolis. In her victory speech, Moriarty thanked her partner Jen Westmoreland and mother Linda Moriarty, along with her campaign team.
"We now have a historic opportunity for change and justice in Hennepin County," she said. "Now the real work begins and I look forward to working with the talented staff at the Hennepin County Attorney's Office, the county board our mayor's city council, school board, police chiefs and all of our Hennepin County justice partners."
"I'm excited to continue building our broad and diverse coalition to ensure that the criminal justice system delivers on its promise of justice."
Holton Dimick conceded defeat in a statement.
"I am not a politician; this was not just a political opportunity for me. This work is my life's mission and I will continue to share my experience as a partner, attorney, and a neighbor you can trust to stand up for everyone — especially those who need it most," she said. "I hope the incoming county attorney will make an effort to build strong relationships with our justice partners. If not, community safety in our county will suffer."
Moriarty will be the first openly gay woman to oversee Minnesota's largest public law office, comprising 200 attorneys, 260 support staff and a $69 million budget.
Staff photographer Aaron Lavinsky contributed to this report.