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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Meet Sonoma County District Attorney Candidates

MEET Sonoma County District Attorney Candidates before you VOTE!

Candidates for District Attorney Answer Questions
from the ACLU-NC Sonoma County Chapter

On June 8, Sonoma County voters will elect an attorney whose job it is to speak "for the people" in the criminal courts. The primary duty of the District Attorney (DA) is to promote the safety of our communities by prosecuting those who break the law. As the “peoples’ lawyer,” the DA is supposed to serve the interests of all members of the community and to enforce the laws without prejudice, bias, or political purposes. Sonoma County voters will be asked to decide whether to re-elect our current District Attorney, Stephan Passalacqua, or replace him with Jill Ravitch, Chief Deputy District Attorney in Mendocino County and a former Sonoma and Alameda County Deputy District Attorney. See where the candidates stand on important issues.

A great deal of power and responsibility lies in the hands of district attorneys. Yet most voters do not pay close attention to the positions of DA candidates. Many voters simply skip this box on the ballot. Even editorial boards of newspapers often do not bother to endorse DA candidates. Without involvement from voters, community organizations, opinion leaders and the media, the immense powers that we put in the hands of DAs will go unchecked.

Many voters don't realize that the District Attorney is one of the most powerful elected officials in the state. The DA has the power to:

• Decide who should be sentenced to die.
• Set the stakes by deciding what charges to file.
•? Send someone away for life under the Three Strikes Law.
• Give someone a second chance.
• Influence state policy.
• Listen to and respond to the community

District Attorneys make policy decisions that go far beyond individual cases and impact the local community, county budgets and the state budget.

• The DA can set young people on the path to rehabilitation or directly to prison.
• The DA can help build positive relationships between law enforcement and the community or turn a blind eye to abuses by police and unfair enforcement of the law.
• The DA can be an advocate for the interests of all the people or can respond to special interests.

To help voters decide who would best serve as District Attorney, the ACLU of Sonoma County sent questionnaires to both candidates covering the budget crisis, death penalty, drug laws, juvenile justice, police use of force, rehabilitation and prevention, the Three Strikes Law and immigration.

Read what the candidates have to say on our website...
and don't forget to vote on June 8!

Martin McReynolds
Chair, ACLU-NC Sonoma County Chapter


The ACLU of Northern California works to preserve and guarantee the Bill of Rights for all, through litigation, public education, organizing, lobbying, and legislation. Protecting freedom of expression, the right to privacy, and the right to be free of discrimination are fundamental goals of the ACLU.

ACLU of Northern California | 39 Drumm Street, San Francisco, CA 94111
T (main): 415.621.2493 | T (civil liberties counselor): 415.621.2488 | F: 415.255.1478

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