Saying the “toxic environment” in the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office needs to change, Daniel Hare, director of career development at Baylor University Law School, announced his intent Monday to seek the office as an independent candidate.

Hare, 39, of Hewitt, becomes the third candidate seeking the position held by Abel Reyna. Reyna, 45, a Republican, is seeking re-election to a third four-year term. Barry Johnson, 61, has filed as a Republican challenger and Seth Sutton, 43, is running as a Democrat.

“Having observed the DA’s office from outside over the last few years and talking to others in the legal community and outside the legal community, especially over these last four months, it is abundantly clear that there is a consensus that there needs to be a change made in the DA’s Office, which I agree with,” Hare said.

While Hare has not practiced law, he says his legal training and current position at the law school, plus past jobs as a college athletics director and NCAA compliance officer have given him valuable experience in managing budgets, hiring qualified employees and giving them freedom to excel.

“I think this office is of a size and complexity level that we don’t need a 24th prosecutor in me,” Hare said. “What we need is someone who can provide a vision, provide a value judgment base, provide leadership and hire and retain the best possible prosecutors we can have and then let them do their jobs.

“One of the things I have seen is the tremendous amount of turnover that goes through that office. It is an incredible amount, and it is concerning. There is a toxic environment there. That that many people are just leaving at the point they are leaving, their careers have not plateaued, they are leaving earlier than that to escape a toxic environment and to be in an environment that is more supportive and allows them to prosper without the issues that come with a toxic environment.”

As an independent candidate, Hare’s name won’t appear on the March primary ballot. After the primaries, Hare will be required to get 500 signatures on a petition from registered voters who did not vote in either the Democratic or Republican primaries to get his name on the general election ballot in November.

Hare said he decided to run as an independent to give others like him who are not not pleased with the current direction of the Republican Party a choice in the general election. He said he wrote in Ohio Gov. John Kasich for president because he could not bring himself to vote for Donald Trump.

“At the time, there was no Democrat in the race, but I thought it was important for the general-election voters to have a Republican-leaning, conservative-leaning choice that wasn’t Abel Reyna,” Hare said.

Hare, who said he and his family are longtime Republicans, is an Oklahoma City native who was raised in Edmond, Oklahoma. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s in finance and legal studies and a master’s in business administration.

He moved to Waco in 2003 to work for the Baylor Bear Foundation and took the woman who would become his wife on their first date to a Baylor athletics donor event. He and his wife, Adrienne, were married in 2008 while he was in law school at Baylor and they have two daughters and a son.

Hare got a job as NCAA compliance officer at Central Oklahoma University in Edmond in April 2009, moved to Monmouth, Oregon, in April 2010, where he served as athletics director at Western Oregon University, then moved back to Waco and into his current job at Baylor Law School in September 2012.

“Daniel is a deeply appreciated staff colleague at Baylor Law School,” said Baylor Law School Dean Brad Toben. “He is a talented lawyer. He has a pristine moral compass and an enviable work ethic. I am proud of his desire to serve.”

Staff writer at the Waco Tribune-Herald covering courts and criminal justice. Follow me on Twitter @TSpoonFeed.

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