Four things to know about State’s Attorney Mark Vargo’s resignation announcement and what is next for the office
RAPID CITY, S.D.– After his resignation from the State’s Attorney position was announced on Tuesday, Mark Vargo spoke about his future and the future of what will become his previous position.
After resigning from the position, what is your next move?
According to Vargo his last day in office will be on April 24, and is set to move to Thailand in the following month for a new law-related pursuit as he advises and helps with the building of legal systems in different communities where he says “the rule of law is an abstract concept.” A past colleague had contacted him about the program, which he accepted as part of an interest of his.
In the past, he has been able to take part in different global opportunities, including teaching abroad. “When I was an assistant United States Attorney, I got to teach abroad to prosecutors four times in the former Soviet Union. So in Russia twice, in Georgia once, and then in Budapest for a conference that involved Georgia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. So I’ve always been interested in kind of the training of prosecutors and this is an opportunity to kind of carry that to the next level.”
How do you feel about leaving the office of the State’s Attorney and the position?
Vargo says he is feeling really good about the state of the position and the office that he is leaving. “The support that I’ve gotten from the community, from the various commissions, from the attorney general’s office has just been amazing. And it enables me then again, to say, this office is in a good place and I can go try to do something to carry that same mission forward in a different venue.” However, he still says there are challenges to the position and the office that must continue to be addressed by his successor, such as becoming more involved with the community.
What was something that has stayed with you during your time as the State’s Attorney?
As Vargo explains, the state’s attorney has been changing for some time, and during his time he came to see himself as both an administrator and a politician. “I view the state’s attorney really more as an elected official– I have a job to do, but there is a political aspect to it. And so the understanding of what a budget meant and what it means to give one person a raise, but not another person, or to give both of them half of that much as a raise. So I had to learn a great deal about how to run an office,” he said. “One of the jobs of the state’s attorney office is to hold people accountable, to take cases to court. And if we believe that it’s the situation to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that somebody is guilty of a crime and then they face the consequences to come with that. But what I learned as I sat in this chair was that that can’t be the only focus that you have.” Communication is especially key and maintaining interaction with the community. “We also have to think about how those individual cases affect the community as a whole. And then having sat here in the states’ attorney for ten years, I hope that the people that have worked here, both staff and attorneys, have taken away something of the ethos of this office, something about the way we do business to every step that they go to.”
Is there someone you have in mind for the position already?
Yes. Though it will be ultimately up to the Pennington County Commission to make the final decision once Vargo leaves, former Deputy State’s Attorney Lara Roetzel is his pick for the role. “I know that she has put her name forward, and I will tell you that I believe that there’s nobody that I would suggest over her. She would come in with more experience to the state attorney’s office than anybody ever, including me.”