CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Declaring that he wants to continue changing the "cultural mindset" of criminals, Franklin County (Pa.) District Attorney Matthew Fogal announced Thursday he is seeking election in 2011.
Fogal, 38, took office Oct. 23, 2009, following the sudden death of his predecessor and former boss, John "Jack" Nelson, at age 58. On Thursday, Fogal called the time of Nelson's death a "dark, tough time" for the Franklin County District Attorney's Office and law enforcement community.
Fogal, a Republican, said victims are "first and foremost" in his mind every day. He described stacks of files from the 3,000 cases handled each year by the office.
"Those are not just names," Fogal said. "Those are people. Those are stories."
State Rep. Rob Kauffman, the chairman of Fogal's election campaign, highlighted the prosecutor's reluctance to enter into plea bargains.
Fogal identified that stance, coupled with standing strong against people who play the system, as the highlights from his time as district attorney. He called it changing the "cultural mindset of the criminal."
"We can all feel safer knowing Matt's at the helm of our district attorney's office," said Kauffman, R-Franklin/Cumberland.
State Sen. Richard Alloway said he first met Fogal when Alloway was a magisterial district judge and Fogal was an assistant prosecutor.
"I found him to be nothing but a professional, a hard worker," said Alloway, who now represents Franklin and Adams counties and a portion of York County.
Fogal, a former prosecutor in Franklin and Adams counties, served with the Army in Afghanistan, Kosovo and New Orleans. He worked with the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps.
"Seeking justice is nothing new for me. I'm a career prosecutor," Fogal said.
Fogal, whose wife, Dana, attended the announcement, received his law degree from Penn State University Dickinson School of Law.
In Pennsylvania, the 2011 primary election is May 17. The district attorney is paid $160,850 and serves a four-year term.