Beavers, when informed Friday of Schaefer's decision, said she intends to run for re-election.

Des Moines County Attorney Amy Beavers will face a primary challenge this June from a former colleague she fired the day after she won election in November 2014.

Lisa Schaefer, who worked as an assistant county attorney for 11 years before being fired by Beavers, said Friday she decided to seek the job after being approached in recent months by a diverse group of Des Moines County citizens wanting change.

"I had thought about it in the past," Schaefer said of running for county attorney. "But, I really started seriously thinking about it a few months ago after being approached by so many people I didn't even know, who encouraged me to run.

"I think there are a lot of people in the community that are unhappy with how the county attorney's office has been operating the past few years."

Schaefer said she is prepared to file the appropriate paperwork with election officials March 5, seeking to win the Democrat Party nomination in June. No Republicans have announced plans to seek the office.

Beavers, when informed Friday of Schaefer's decision, said she intends to run for re-election.

"Yes, I am planning on seeking a second term," she said, indicating she would have no problem facing an opponent in the primary. "It's the democratic process. The voters in Des Moines County will decide who they want to be county attorney."

Beavers, who has been in the county attorney's office more than 20 years, assumed the duties of county attorney in April 2014. She was appointed to the post in June 2014 with the health-related leave-turned-early retirement of six-term county attorney Pat Jackson, elected to her first term in November 2014 when she beat Trent Henkelvig, the Republican candidate. The day after her victory, she fired Schaefer.

Beavers did not say why she fired Schaefer and two other staff members, citing rules prohibiting her from discussing personnel decisions.   

“I have been elected Des Moines County attorney, and I believe in order to make positive changes in the office, I needed to make the decisions I made today,” Beavers said at the time.

Schaefer said Friday she expected to be fired if Beavers won the election.

“I wasn’t particularly surprised,” she said. “I just got the feeling there would be changes made if she was elected, and I would be part of those changes.”

Schaefer said her decision to run against Beavers is not based on revenge.

"I made my decision to run regardless of what she was going to do," she said. "I love being a prosecutor and I thought this would be a very good time in my life for me to run. I decided this was the year to do it."

Her wealth of experience, not only as a prosecutor but as a law professor and victims' rights advocate, gave her confidence she can face the challenges of being county attorney.

"I have a vast amount of experience in the courtroom," she said. "I've gone to trial on everything from a speeding ticket to first-degree murder. I think it is important the county attorney have their own caseload. I expect to spend a lot of time in the courtroom trying cases.

"I'm excited about the future. I am confident I can do the job. I know I can meet the challenges of changing the atmosphere in the community ... We can change things if we make the right decisions."

Schaefer said she is not opposed to plea bargaining some cases because it's unrealistic to think the justice system can operate without plea agreements.

"Plea bargaining is crucial for the efficient use of the justice system's resources. However, I think it is important for the county attorney to know when a plea agreement is appropriate. When it comes to violent offenders or people who present a danger to the community, plea agreements are not necessarily the right thing to do. Sometimes, you have to have the courage and ability to move forward to trial."

Schaefer, who is married to Burlington Police Lt. Adam Schaefer, said she does not see any conflicts developing between her role as county attorney and her husband's job as a police officer.

"I don't see that as a conflict at all," she said. "The county attorney is the chief law enforcement officer in the county and I've always viewed the county attorney's office and law enforcement to be on the same team with the same goals. Of course, we have different roles, but we have the same goals."

Schaefer said from what she has observed and been told by police officers and community members, the relationship between Beavers and the police department has not been entirely positive.

"I am a firm believer the county attorney should work to develop a good relationship with law enforcement," Sheafer said, "not only at the local level, but also at the state and and federal level."