SALT LAKE CITY — Promising to reform the criminal justice system, Utah County Attorney David Leavitt has turned his eyes toward the state’s top law enforcement job.
Leavitt, a Republican, announced in a Facebook video that he will challenge GOP Attorney General Sean Reyes.
Utah County, Leavitt said, has made great strides toward fixing a “broken” criminal justice system since he took office in 2019.
“But one thing has become clear to me in 14 short months, and that is while Utah County is a great place from which to change the criminal justice system, it isn’t the best spot. The most ideal spot is as the Utah attorney general,” he said.
Reyes, 49, also announced last Friday that he will seek reelection to the post he has held since 2013. He said his decision came after months of contemplation and prayer with his wife, Saysha, and his family.
“I’ve had opportunities to serve at the national level. But I’ve chosen to stay in Utah for a reason,” he said in a statement. “I want to continue my team’s momentum and success here in order to protect all Utahns, strengthen local economies and lessen human suffering.”
Reyes has focused on finding solutions to the opioid epidemic, suicide, human trafficking, cybercrime and white-collar fraud.
Leavitt, 56, said his interest in the job is in putting himself in the position where he could most ably reform the system.
“In a nation that incarcerates more people than anywhere in the world, we have work to do,” he said. “Most of those are nonviolent offenders. We have done a poor job at trying to help these offenders come back into society.”
Leavitt said he believes he can help unite urban and rural counties adopting some of the innovations in Utah County, including a diversion program designed to not make criminals out of nonviolent drug offenders and provide them an opportunity to restart their lives.
“While some just need to be locked up, the vast majority of offenders need different options for punishment and rehabilitation,” he said.