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Republican attorney E. Neal Gunnarson has entered the race for the new office of Salt Lake County district attorney, saying the streets are more dangerous than they were when his opponent became the county's top prosecutor.

Gunnarson, a former deputy county attorney, said he intends to become an active criminal prosecutor, "not just an administrator who watches from a distance."According to Gunnarson, the current administration of County Attorney David Yocom has failed to come to grips with the county's major crime problems, particularly gangs. Gunnarson resigned from the office in 1988 following a dispute with Yocom.

"Enough is enough," Gunnarson said. "It's about time the power of the law be focused where it belongs: upon violent crime, with special attention to gangs and child and spouse abuse."

Gunnarson, who faces no opposition within his own party, said his campaign will focus on issues relating to the criminal justice system and the administration of the state's first county option D.A.

He said if he's elected, he will press for more efficiency in the juvenile court, better coordination between prosecutors and juvenile court agencies and early identification of juvenile offenders.

"Safe streets in our county ought to be the No. 1 goal of the district attorney. I intend to work tirelessly to make our county a place where our citizens can feel safe and feel proud once again."

Also, Gunnarson said, he will run an open office. "The current administration has shut the door to the press and the citizens of the county," he said.

Gunnarson said he has 16 years experience as a prosecutor, including five years supervising child-abuse prosecutions. He has also worked as a supervisor at the State Industrial School and was assigned to the juvenile court as a prosecutor in Davis County.

He said his background and experiences gives him an understanding of criminal justice procedures from arrest through prosecution in both the juvenile and adult systems.

Gunnarson said he will work to reverse the growing crime rate "by strong leadership in criminal prosecution and by developing and implementing innovative and coordinated programs, using law enforcement, courts and public resources."