Lyons looks forward to new role as county attorney

As of Jan. 2, Kristofer Lyons of Monticello takes over as Jones County Attorney. Lyons’ wealth of experience in law plays well into his new role. Lyons previously served as assistant county attorney. (Photo submitted)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     After winning the Nov. 6 election, Kristofer Lyons officially takes over as Jones County Attorney on Jan. 2.

     Lyons replaces previous county attorney Phil Parsons who decided not to run for re-election.

     “Phil gave me some great experiences, and that practical experience makes the transition so much easier,” Lyons said.

     Lyons spent two years as assistant county attorney in Anamosa, three years as a magistrate judge in Jones County, and nine years working for Shimanek, Shimanek & Bowman, a private law office in Monticello.

     “I have a unique set of qualifications,” Lyons said of his professional background. “I’m here to actually seek the truth, which is what you’re supposed to do as a prosecutor.”

     Lyons grew up and attended school in Anamosa. After finishing law school, he said he was fortunate enough to have an offer to work close to home with Shimanek, Shimanek & Bowman.

     “I had the opportunity to work right away in Jones County. It was too good to pass up,” said Lyons.

     Lyons earned his undergraduate degree in political science and religious studies from Loras College in Dubuque. He went on to law school at the University of Iowa.

     “I always knew I was going to law school,” he said of his future plans. “Loras prepared me for UI very well.”

     While in high school, Lyons spent time as a page in the Iowa House. Then, during his junior year of college, he clerked for Rep. Andy KcKean of Anamosa. At the time, McKean was chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

     “That was the best education I ever had,” Lyons said of the experience in Des Moines.

     Growing up, his mom was a legal secretary in Anamosa for attorney Bob Beckmann.

     “Bob had a really big influence on my life,” recalled Lyons. “He was a good man.”

     Lyons said his past experiences with 14 years in law leading up to this point have taught him how important it really is to listen to others. “That’s key in a role like this,” he said. “You need to listen to the public and victims.

     “Experience is key,” he added.

     Aside from listening, patience is also an attribute that is important in Lyons’ new role.

     “People want action right away, he said. “There are rules with filing and deadlines.

     “But you also need to be patient to let cases develop.”

     About a year ago, Lyons heard that Parsons likely wouldn’t run for re-election. It wasn’t until this summer that he seriously considered throwing his hat in the ring and filed to get his name on the election ballot. (Lyons ran unopposed.)

     “I’m committed to public service,” said Lyons. “And a lot of people asked me to run.” He said the whole idea behind attending law school was to eventually become a prosecutor.

     As county attorney, Lyons not only represents the board of supervisors in their endeavors, but the individual county offices/departments as well.

     “I prosecute all of the cases on behalf of the State of Iowa in Jones County,” explained Lyons. “And provide legal advice to the supervisors and department heads.”

     In 2018 alone, the County Attorney’s Office pursued 346 indictable offenses, from serious misdemeanors on up. That doesn’t take into account all of the simple misdemeanors and traffic violations in Magistrate Court. Suffice to say, Lyons will stay busy.

     Aside from starting his role on Jan. 2, there will be a new assistant county attorney as well: Amy Dollash from Linn County. Dollash will be a full-time employee.

     With new faces in the County Attorney’s Office, not to mention Clerk Kelly Dodge, Lyons wants the office and the work they do to be more transparent. “I want to see more community outreach in what we do,” he said. That entails attending community meetings. “People want to know what we’re doing.”

     Lyons and his family reside in Monticello.

     He said despite having a different set of responsibilities from assistant to full-time county attorney, he’ll always make his family his top priority.

     “I spend a lot of time with my kids,” he said.



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