An experienced prosecutor and executive director of the Maryland State's Attorneys Association, Dario Joseph Broccolino describes himself as an outsider with no special-interest ties to the county's criminal justice system.
Those qualities, he said, make him an ideal candidate for Howard County state's attorney.
Mr. Broccolino, 49, of Ellicott City, filed to enter the Democratic race for state's attorney on July 5, the last day the county Board of Elections accepted filings.
If elected, said Mr. Broccolino, said he would put the concerns of victims and citizens before the interests of defense attorneys, judges and police officers.
"We are going to become advocates for no special interest groups, but to all individuals," he said. "Everybody starts the same. The people on the 'in' may not like that. The people on the 'out' will have an opportunity to make their mark."
Mr. Broccolino faces Michael Allen Weal, chief of the Howard State's Attorney's District Court Division, in the Sept. 15 primary. Two Republicans, Marna Lynn McLendon and Joseph Fleischmann II, also have entered the race.
State's Attorney William Hymes, who has been the county's state's attorney for 16 years, is not seeking another four-year term.
Mr. Broccolino acknowledged that like the other candidates, he rates crime as the No. 1 issue. But he said he has the experience and the ideas to fight crime and address the public's concerns about crime.
Mr. Broccolino, who has lived in the county 20 years, is married and has two children. He received his law degree from the University of Baltimore in 1970 and worked as a city prosecutor in Baltimore from 1971 to 1988, handling cases ranging from fraud to murder.
He became director of the State's Attorneys Association in 1988. His duties include organizing educational courses for the group's 500 members.
The position also has provided an opportunity to see what works and what doesn't work in state's attorneys' offices across Maryland, said Mr. Broccolino, who hopes to bring some of the successful programs to Howard.
One of his ideas is to require the office's 22 prosecutors to work evening hours on a rotating schedule so citizens can call to get information on cases. Mr. Broccolino also would like to establish an advisory board of citizens, police officers, defense attorneys and court officials who would hold forums where people can address crime-related issues.
Another idea is to publish lists of people convicted of some crimes, particularly drunken driving, in the hope that the publicity would deter others. Mr. Broccolino acknowledged that his late start in the primary puts him at a disadvantage to Mr. Weal. However, he said he didn't enter the race sooner because his job at the State's Attorneys Association had been funded by a federal grant, prohibiting him from seeking elected office. The association began paying his salary as of July 1.
Mr. Broccolino said he believes Mr. Weal, who has been campaigning since last July, already has much support within the Democratic Party and the county's legal community.
But he said he will use advertisements, mailings and door-to-door visits to promote his ideas and position as an outsider.
"I would rather go into this office maintaining my independence," Mr. Broccolino said. "If I had to go into this office with a cartload of IOUs, I'd rather not do it."