Another candidate has announced a run for Burleigh County state's attorney.

Burleigh County Assistant State's Attorney Brian Johnson said Tuesday he will seek the office in this year's election. He joins fellow prosecutor Julie Lawyer in the race for the position that 20-year incumbent Richard Riha will leave upon retirement next year.

"I just feel that it's important to me to serve the residents of Burleigh County," Johnson said outside the Burleigh County Courthouse. "I think there's some challenges facing prosecution and the way things are done that are important to me and that I'd like to work on."

Johnson said that a recent shift from incarceration to treatment for drug-related crimes presents challenges for parties of the criminal justice system.

"I think that's going to be one of the biggest challenges that the state's attorney's offices across the state are going to see, is dealing with this new shift in direction on drug crimes," he said.

As an assistant state's attorney in Burleigh County for almost two years, Johnson said his caseload includes driving- and assault-related crimes, as well as mental health hearings and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department portfolio. 

He's a New England native who spent about a decade in law enforcement, including a year each with Lincoln Police and the Stark County Sheriff's Office, as well as seven years with Mandan Police.

Johnson said the two-way race for state's attorney should be "amicable."

"I think Julie's a good candidate," he said. "I think it's important the voters have a choice."

Lawyer announced her candidacy six weeks ago. She is an 18-year prosecutor who has handled complex cases such as sexual offenses, domestic violence and murder.

According to Tribune archives and election results, 2018 appears to be the first year of a contested race for Burleigh County state's attorney since 1998.

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