For 18 years she worked for the Missoula County Attorney's Office, then she left for private practice. Now, Kirsten Pabst has announced her intention to seek the office currently held by Fred Van Valkenburg.

Pabst said she has some very firm ideas of how the county attorney's office should be run.

"I think that the next Missoula County Attorney needs to have a good balance of experience, leadership and vision to take the office in a new direction, a direction that's back in line with our community values," Pabst said. "First of all, we need a lot more cooperation with our partner agencies. More cooperation, better training, better communication and much less fighting and arguing."

Pabst may be best known as one of the defense attorneys, along with David Paoli, in the Jordan Johnson rape trial.

"I made the right decision to represent Jordan," Pabst said. "I underestimated the emotional response and the divisiveness that it would create, not just in the office, but in the community. We all agree that everyone deserves the right to a fair trial before a jury of their peers, and that's what we did for Jordan, and that's what he deserved. It was the right decision."

Pabst spoke about how she would address the staff, who are people she once worked alongside and then left for private practice, should she be elected to the office.

"Here's what I would say to them," Pabst said. "I think the community thinks the office is in disarray and this community's been divided. But, at the end of the day, what everyone wants when they go home to their families is to feel safe, and when that safety is breached by a criminal defendant, they want to feel like there's a competent, compassionate system in place to take care of them. It is time for healing in this divided community, and I think with the right level of cooperation and openness we can do that together."

Pabst spoke of her deep affection for the Missoula community.

"I love this community, and I care about that office," Pabst said. "I want my kids and grand kids to be safe in the community. So, It's time to start the healing."

Missoula County Attorney Candidate Kirsten Pabst: