Contra Costa County – This week a community coalition of organizations and individual voters from Contra Costa County called on all candidates vying for the interim District Attorney position to fill out a public questionnaire about where they stand on a variety of issues that matter to local voters, ranging from bail practices and criminal justice reform, immigrant rights, worker and consumer protection to police accountability and the environment.
The coalition issued the public questionnaire after the Board of Supervisors failed to adopt a fully transparent and community-first process at their August 1 meeting.
The coalition is also working with local organizations and volunteers to host a candidate forum on Saturday, August 12, in Concord.
The responses to the questionnaire will be made public before the candidate forum.
WHAT: Contra Costa Interim District Attorney Candidate Forum
WHEN: Saturday, August 12, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
WHERE: Church of the Nazarene at 1650 Ashbury Dr., Concord, CA
WHO: The forum is co-hosted by the ACLU of Northern California; Alliance of Californians for
Community Empowerment (ACCE); Contra Costa AFL-CIO Central Labor Council; Contra
Costa County Racial Justice Coalition (CCCRJC); Courage Campaign; #cut50; Democratic
Party of Contra Costa County; East County NAACP; Safe Return Project; and Smart Justice
BART/PARKING: The venue is accessible from the Concord BART station and offers ample free parking.
At a public hearing on August 1, the coalition pleaded with the County Board of Supervisors to adopt an open and transparent selection process for choosing the interim District Attorney that includes a community selection committee. The coalition urged the Board to avoid conflicts of interest by revealing whether they have ever received an endorsement or monetary support from any of the candidates, and pressed the supervisors to develop a system for ranking the candidates based on their qualifications and alignment with local values, over a consensus-based decision-making model that could be swayed by backroom deals.
The coalition had previously sent a letter requesting similar action to the Board on July 6th, which was never acknowledged.
A spokesperson for the coalition, Director of Contra Costa County Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) David Sharples, said, “We want a district attorney who reflects the values of Contra Costa voters. The selection process should focus on whether each candidate is qualified for the job, aligns with local values, has the highest level of ethical standards, and is ready to take on the challenges faced by our community, not the candidate who is the most well-connected. If the board won’t be transparent about this process, then we will go straight to the candidates so they have every opportunity to explain where they stand on the issues and why they are the best candidate.”
Contra Costa voters have bucked the position of their District Attorney and repeatedly voted for meaningful criminal justice reform over the last several elections. In 2012, 72 percent of county residents voted in favor of Proposition 36, which reformed California’s Three Strikes Law; in 2014, 66 percent of voters supported Proposition 47, which substantially reduced the penalties for several crimes; in 2016, 69 percent voted in favor of Proposition 57, which significantly expanded early parole opportunities for people serving time in California prisons; and 61 percent voted in favor of Proposition 64, which legalized marijuana and retroactively invalidated several types of prior marijuana-related criminal convictions.
The five applicants continuing in the process are:
- Diana Becton
- Danielle Douglas
- Paul Graves
- Thomas Kensok
- Patrick Vanier