ALLEGAN — Mike Villar is hoping the third time’s the charm.
On Thursday, Jan. 25, the local attorney announced he’s running for Allegan County prosecutor. It will be his third run for the role, which serves as the county’s top lawyer.
Villar, who describes himself as a “dedicated Republican and pro-life advocate” has more than 30 years of experience practicing criminal law.
Villar told The Sentinel he feels he has more support from other politicians this time around, which could make a difference in his campaign.
“When I ran the first and second time, I had no support from many of the local Republican politicians,” he said. “That has all changed. I think as they see the incompetence, they see the poor governance of the prosecutor’s office, and they’re realizing there needs to be a change.”
Villar said some of the things he’s seen in Allegan County have troubled him.
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During his kickoff event, Villar said the prosecutor’s office’s budget has grown larger than necessary. He also criticized staff turnover and said the office is allowing too many cases to reach trial instead of settling.
“When my opponent took over, her budget was $1.2 million,” Villar said. “That was six years ago. Her budget now is $2.1 million. We have doubled, almost doubled, our budget for the prosecutor’s office while losing prosecutors and losing cases.”
Villar said he’s looking to bring integrity, transparency, accountability and fiscal conservancy to the office.
“I’m there to successfully prosecute cases that should be prosecuted and to make the office streamlined, run efficiently and win,” he said. “That’s what I want to do and that’s what we’re not doing right now.”
The criticism is aimed at current Prosecutor Myrene Koch, whom Villar has faced off against in the previous two elections — Koch’s last margin of victory in 2020 was just 19 votes.
During the last campaign, Villar leveled allegations that Koch and Allegan County Circuit Court Judge Margaret Zuzich Bakker engaged in improper email communications during a 2019 criminal trial. He filed complaints with the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission and the Attorney Grievance Commission.
As of publication, no official conclusion from either body has been released.
Villar obtained the emails via the Freedom of Information Act and turned them over to the attorney representing the criminal defendant in the case, who has since had his appeal heard before the Michigan Supreme Court.
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During arguments, Justice David F. Viviano said: “I’m not trying to justify what the judge did here. It appears to be a clear violation of the canon. The question is, what are we to do about it?”
The court has not yet released a decision, either.
Villar practices law in Allegan, Holland, Grand Haven, Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan’s Law School.
For more information, visit votevillar.com and facebook.com/voteforvillar.
— Contact executive editor Sarah Leach and reporter Mitchell Boatman at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on The Holland Sentinel: Take three: Michael Villar announces run for Allegan prosecutor