The Cooper County Prosecuting Attorney may see change in 2018 when citizens vote to make the position full-time in a special measure on the August primary election ballot and when longtime prosecutor Doug Abele retires.
Abele, a Boonville native, has served as county prosecuting attorney since January 1983 when the office was part-time and staffed by the prosecutor and an assistant. As the City of Boonville has grown in those 35 years, so too have the responsibilities of the office. As a result, with Abele’s retirement from the position but not from practice, the Cooper County Commission approved the addition of a measure of the special August ballot asking citizens if the role should be full or part-time.
“I had a private practice before I started the prosecutor job and I have enjoyed having that over the years and appreciated the fact that I could continue to do that,“ explained Abele, “It has become a little more difficult to do that since the job went from actually being a part-time job to being a part-time job in name only.”
According to Abele in 1983, a typical case would take several days to research and prosecute allowing him reasonable time to practice law privately. In that time, the prosecutor’s office has grown from its two-person staff to be comprised of ten staff and oversees the child support project spanning five counties. Counties, including Moniteau, which is classified at the same level as Cooper County, have elevated their prosecutors to full-time roles.
“Whoever follows me in this office, certainly, will earn a full-time prosecutor salary. And, as I understand it, that salary would be the same as the associate circuit judge earns and is absolutely a comparable job,“ said Abele regarding why the prosecutor’s position should be full-time. 
Abele believes taking the office of Prosecuting Attorney full-time is necessary due not only to increased caseload but also growth and changes within the community such as the medium-security correctional facility he helped develop, increased traffic on Interstate 70 and businesses like the Isle of Capri Casino. He also believes the incoming prosecutor may not have a full understanding of the extensive range of responsibilities in the role because Abele has occupied it for over three decades.
New responsibilities have not deterred Abele in 35 years; he feels 2018 is the appropriate time to step away and allow a newly elected prosecutor to take on the role in the proposed full-time capacity. Abele also believes the citizens of Cooper County revere the power of law enforcement enough to vote the prosecutor’s position into full-time status.
Abele, will continue his private legal practice but can not attribute any single reason he chose to study and practice law aside from an interest early in life and several acquaintances from his local upbringing. One of such legal connections was previous prosecuting attorney Hampton Tisdale, who brought Abele on-staff fresh from law school at the University of Missouri.
“The opportunity to serve the citizens of Cooper County, where I grew up, has been a privilege for me over the years,“ concluded Abele.
The successor to the Cooper County Prosecuting Attorney office will be elected in the general election on Tuesday, November 6. The end of term for Abele and first day for the prosecuting attorney-elect will be Monday, December 31.