SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake County prosecutor has announced his intent to seek the Republican nomination for the Salt Lake County district attorney post.
Steve Nelson, who has been with the district attorney's office for nearly 11 years and currently acts as its violent felonies prosecution unit chief, said he decided to pursue the nomination after more than a year of consideration and encouragement from others.
"I've been approached by I can't tell you how many rank and file police officers and prosecutors," Nelson said, noting that the Salt Lake Police Association has already endorsed him. "These are my partners in law enforcement, and I'm really grateful to have their support and encouragement."
Nelson grew up in Salt Lake County and graduated from West High School and Westminster College. After graduating from the University of Utah's S.J. Quinney College of Law, he worked in the Utah Attorney General's Office's Children's Justice division.
Once he joined the district attorney's office, he worked for many years in the gang unit and spent a year working on domestic violence cases. He estimates he has taken part in about 70 felony trials.
He believes the office should be held by a working felony prosecutor.
"I'm somebody who is regularly trying tough felony cases," he said. "I think the district attorney should be somebody who is in court on a regular basis. Someone who makes office policy and decides how things are run is someone who should be in the courtroom."
Nelson also wants to bring back a prosecution team focused on domestic violence. He said the unique, difficult nuances of domestic violence cases need a team dedicated to tackling them who can also partner with law enforcement in working with and helping victims.
"(Domestic violence) is something that's a problem in our community that I see and that I would like to do something about," he said.
Current Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, a Democrat, has not yet announced whether he will seek another term. Gill said he will wait until the formal filing period, which ends March 20, to make his decision.
"What’s fantastic about our country is everybody gets an opportunity to participate and run, and everybody and anybody who wants to run should," Gill said. "I would encourage all people to come and participate in this process."
Nelson said he has a good relationship with his current boss and said his decision to run was not personal.
"There's not a bad relationship between him and me," Nelson said of Gill. "I'm not a malcontent or curmudgeon in the office."
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