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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Deputy DA set for top spot

Deputy DA set for top spot


Deputy district attorney to take over as Union County district attorney March 1

Gov. John Kitzhaber announced Wednesday afternoon that Kelsie McDaniel will be the new Union County district attorney.

McDaniel, who has served as a deputy district attorney in the county since June 2010, will fill the vacancy left by Tim Thompson, who is retiring.

“Kelsie Davis McDaniel’s broad experience in the public safety community will serve her well as she leads the Union County District Attorney’s Office,” Kitzhaber said. “Her commitment to bringing together people and collaborating across the public safety spectrum, from law enforcement to community corrections to mental health and human service professionals, will help keep our communities safe and reduce victimization.” 

McDaniel holds a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Washington and earned her juris doctorate at Gonzaga University School of Law.

“I’ve worked really hard to get to this point,” McDaniel said. “It’s kind of the culmination of a career goal.”

In fourth grade she decided she wanted to be a lawyer, and in sixth grade she decided she would be a prosecutor.

“I didn’t really diverge from that path,” she said.

McDaniel said while she has big shoes to fill, she has a few problems she wants to address in Union County.

New Union Co. District Attorney Kelsie McDaniel. (PHIL BULLOCK/The Observer)
New Union Co. District Attorney Kelsie McDaniel. (PHIL BULLOCK/The Observer)

“Mental health issues, drug issues, repeat offenders are issues we really see here,” she said. “People who come through our office sometimes do so often.”

As DA, she said she wants to address why those people are coming back into the system. She also wants to address mental health issues in the area.

“I think we can do a more collaborative approach to address those needs,” McDaniel said.

Current DA Tim Thompson said he was pleased with the appointment, especially because it leaves no gap in leadership.

“I’m happy that an appointment was made from within the existing staff, as the learning curve will be less steep for someone who is familiar with the Union County processes and procedures. Our staff and other departments will have fewer adjustments and unknown factors to deal with,” Thompson said.

Thompson said McDaniel is a good choice because she will bring energy, organization and initiative.

“Kelsie is an excellent lawyer and trial attorney and has been handling some of our most significant cases,” Thompson said.

Recently, McDaniel handled much of the Harold Fruitts case.

Her first challenge as DA, though, will be to hire a new deputy district attorney.

“It’s really important that we’re working at full capacity,” she said.

Prior to moving to Union County, McDaniel was a deputy district attorney in Morrow County. Her husband, Kyle, is a wildland firefighter and member of the La Grande Hotshots. McDaniel says they love living here.

“This is what I want to do and this is where I want to do it,” she said.

Contact Kelly Ducote at 541-786-4230 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Kelly on Twitter @lgoDucote.

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