116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Jerry Vander Sanden, who is to be sworn in July 1 as the interim Linn County Attorney, says he'll probably run the office differently than others because he has his own style.
“I'm not a micro-manager,” said Vander Sanden, 53, of Cedar Rapids. “I have confidence in the staff. I still want to know what's going on because we are split up into two separate buildings. I want them to feel part of the (main) office and to know I'm here for them. We have good and enthusiastic people who are committed.”
The office's criminal and civil divisions are in the Linn County Courthouse. The juvenile division is temporarily located at county offices in Westdale Mall. The civil division with eventually move into the county Administrative Office Building when that building's renovation is completed.
Linn County Attorney Harold Denton retired July 1, after 35 years of service. Vander Sanden, who began working as an assistant prosecutor in 1983, was sworn in July 1.
Vander Sanden, who is running unopposed for the county attorney's job on the November ballot, said he plans to make no big changes immediately, though he will appoint Nick Maybanks as his first assistant.
“He's a very capable and able prosecutor. I have every confidence in his abilities.”
Vander Sanden has been the office's first assistant since 2002 when Denton appointed him to that post.
In addition, three new assistants were recently hired: Jordan Schier, who was with a private firm, started June 17. Lisa Jones, who had been with Iowa Legal Aid, and Lisa Epp, an assistant Benton County Attorney, will start July 6.
Those hirings fill all the office's vacancies, bringing the number of assistants to 19.
Vander Sanden said he was grateful to have been hired 27 years ago and is still grateful to have this job today.
“This is a changing and demanding position and that's why I wanted it,” he said.
Vander Sanden said he will be managing a $3 million-plus budget. He wants to know where the money goes.
“The public expects their leaders to be careful with their money,” he said. “Most of it I have no control over because about 98 percent goes for salaries, but I will be looking at ways to cut the operating expenses.”
Vander Sanden said he can't imagine not being a prosecutor, but if it hadn't been for his poor eyesight, he might have become a police officer. When he graduated from college, he applied with the Cedar Rapids Police Department and found out his eyesight was below the required 20/40 vision.
“I had contacts, but at that time they wouldn't take me,” he said laughing. “I was at a crossroads and decided to go to law school. I didn't like it - the way they ran it. It was all academic theory, and I wanted to be in the courtroom.”
Vander Sanden, who's prosecuted felonies since 1986, will continue to prosecute cases and take on trials, but he will cut his normal caseload of about 80 to 50 or so to make time for his administrative responsibilities.
Vander Sanden graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and earned his law degree at the University of Iowa. He's lived in the Cedar Rapids area since 1969. He and his wife, Denise, have three children.