WHO? Republican candidate for Marion County Prosecutor
THE BASICS: Massa comes with a strong law-and-order resume, having spent 13 of the last 20 years prosecuting cases at the highest levels. He served as chief council to former Marion County Prosecutor Scott Neuman for eight years, as an assistant United States attorney for Indiana's Southern District, and as a deputy prosecutor for Marion County.
For the past four years, he has served as general counsel to Gov. Mitch Daniels.
NUVO: What would you say to voters who worry that, after the scandals associated with Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, another Republican just means more of the same?
Mark Massa: Oh, it won't. That's the first thing I would tell them. Secondly, I think my opponents are very eager to run against somebody who's not on the ballot. I have a record as prosecutor and as a leader in the community, built over two decades, that I am proud to run on.
I think the voters – whether they be Republicans or Democrats or Independent – they are always looking for the same thing out of their prosecutor. And that is somebody with the right experience and the right temperament and the right judgment. And that's something that our team can offer.
NUVO: How would you characterize your approach to the office?
Massa: I am interested in enforcing the law and in restoring public confidence in our criminal justice system across the board. I don't think it is any secret that there have been a number of things that have occurred, starting with some revelations about the judgment and actions of the prosecutor – and, more recently, allegations of criminal activity by certain police officers. Both of these things have shaken public confidence. In an atmosphere like that, it becomes more important than ever to hire a seasoned, experienced, thoughtful prosecuting attorney. We can very quickly restore public confidence in the office though both actions and words. We will do that.
NUVO: You've mentioned launching a Public Integrity Unit should you win. What would be its function?
Massa: It will be to investigate and, if the evidence warrants, fully prosecute cases of public corruption and crimes against public administration. The Marion County Prosecutor's Office at one time had a long-time tradition of doing just that, particularly under Prosecutors (Stephen) Goldsmith and (Scott) Newman. Typically people think more and look more to our federal partners for that kind of work, but I do think there is a significant role for the local prosecuting attorney's office to play and I'm eager to lead that.
But that's only a part of the ethics platform that we put through in the spring. I am, to date, the only candidate to pledge that I will not have any outside business interests, pledge to not serve on the board of any for-profit companies, and I pledge to not accept gifts as Prosecutor.
NUVO: Are there any particular cases or causes you want to take on right away?
Massa: There are two areas that demand immediate attention. One is violent crime and a brazen disrespect for law that leaves people frightened, even in their own homes. That always, always, has to be job one for the prosecutor's office. We can never lose sight of the fundamental mission of the office, which is to inflict maximum pain and punishment on the worst, most violent offenders. If we do nothing else in that office, we've got to do that.
Another issue that is related to it that I am very interested in is residential burglary. That is quality of life crime at a minimum and at worst it can lead to unspeakable violence and terrible tragedy. I have proposed something I am calling our Repeat Burglar Initiative. I'm a big advocate for the expansion of the use of emerging DNA technologies to solve more property crimes. We've typically looked at this great new technology in a way that helps us solve violent crimes, murders and rapes, but there has been some good work done in other cities to expand that use.
NUVO: There's a perception among some of our readers that city government is run by an old boys club. You've been around for a long time, most recently as chief counsel to Gov. Daniels. How do separate yourself from that perception?
Massa: I do it by doing the job, each and every day. And in that office, that means hammering criminals every day. If I am fortunate enough to get this assignment from the voters, that's going to be my only priority. I'm not going there so I can run for Congress. I want to be the prosecutor. I've been a prosecutor for 13 of the last 20 years and I now have the opportunity to be the Prosecutor, a job that means a lot to me.
I have been very lucky in my career to serve two governors, three prosecutors, a (state's) chief justice, and a United States attorney. But I can tell you that by far the most satisfying work I have ever done was as a deputy prosecutor. If the voters afford me this responsibility, I am going to focus on that each and every day and not some of these ancillary issues your readers might have some concern about.