During a press conference on Tuesday, Alpena County Prosecutor Dennis Grenkowicz announced he will be running for 26th Circuit Court judge.
The position will be vacant when Judge John Kowalski retires at the end of the year.
Grenkowicz had served as county prosecutor for 20 years, the longest tenure of any Alpena County prosecutor.
“All good things must run their course and its time for me to face a new challenge,” he said.
Grenkowicz, who is a graduate of Alpena High School, Alpena Community College, Central Michigan University and Capitol University Law School, was first elected prosecutor in 1988 and was reelected four times.
He will remain county prosecutor until the end of the year, he said.
“For the last 20 years its been my honor to serve as your prosecuting attorney. I’ve always found the office to be challenging and rewarding,” he said.
Public safety would be his biggest concern if elected he said, adding that a judge must find balance in dealing with criminals.
He said he had dealt with several cases as prosecutor where the criminal belongs in jail — but he also said there are troubled youth who come to court and must be dealt with carefully.
“When given an adequate opportunity, I’ve seen these people turn their lives around,” Grenkowicz said.
Because of budgetary constraints at the county and state levels, the future could hold many changes for circuit court judges, he said.
He said he wouldn’t be surprised to see judges being asked to travel to other regions, such as Grand Rapids or Detroit, when they are able. He also said he expects the role of technology to increase in the courtroom.
Alpena attorney and former Montmorency Probate Judge Michael Mack announced last week he is also running for the seat.
Grenkowicz said he and Mack have known each other since high school.
“We’re friends at the beginning of the campaign and I hope we’re friends at the end of the campaign,” he said.
He said a judge should have experience in the courtroom and many private practice lawyers spend a lot of time in an office.
“My strongest quality is that I’ve earned my living in the courtroom,” he said.
The circuit court is made up of Alpena and Montmorency counties, and Grenkowicz said he declared his candidacy on Saturday in Montmorency County.
Sean Harkins can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5688.