Why this district attorney race matters | Notes on the Valley | Monith Ilavarasan | DanvilleSanRamon.com |

Local Blogs

Notes on the Valley

By Monith Ilavarasan

E-mail Monith Ilavarasan

About this blog: My parents, brother, and I moved to Pleasanton when I was in the seventh grade. I then graduated from Amador Valley High School, went to college at UC Davis and started out a career in tech. After several years working in large co...  (More)

View all posts from Monith Ilavarasan

Why this district attorney race matters

Uploaded: May 18, 2022
There has never been an election like the one we are going to have on June 7th. Four candidates are running for Alameda County District Attorney, and none of them are the incumbent. This gives voters a chance to have a big voice in determining the future of criminal justice in our communities.

While the position of Alameda County DA has technically been an elected position for decades, there’s been a long standing tradition in which the incumbent DA hands down the seat to a hand-picked successor by endorsing them.

In 2009, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors appointed Nancy E. O’Malley as District Attorney after Thomas J. Orloff’s retirement. She ran unopposed in the following two elections and then had one challenger in 2018.

Her predecessor became the county’s top prosecutor in 1994 when he ran unopposed to fill the seat of then-retiring District Attorney Jack Meehan.

Going back even further, in 1981 Jack Meehan was appointed District Attorney by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. Meehan was reelected District Attorney unopposed in 1982, 1986, and 1990.

In fact, since 1920 every time a District Attorney first took over their post they were either appointed by the Board of Supervisors or ran unopposed.

For the first time ever O’Malley as the current DA chose not to pick a successor, leaving the race wide open.

As elected officials, DAs are responsible for seeking justice for the communities they represent. Even more importantly, they are responsible for defining what justice is. This means that they decide whether or not a person will face criminal charges and jail time after they’re arrested by a police department or the sheriff on suspicion of committing a crime.

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. At any given point in time, over two million people in our country are held in detention. This is largely driven by our desire to incarcerate non-violent drug users.

The prison incarceration rate for Alameda County is 332 per 100,000. As a county it puts us slightly higher than the incarceration rates of places that have been rife with conflict such as Russia, Nicaragua, and Honduras.

While the U.S. is the richest country in the world, and Alameda County is one of the richest counties in America our incarceration rates are magnitudes higher than countries with similar levels of resources. The majority first world countries have incarceration rates well below 100 per 100,000.

The Alameda County District Attorney oversees an office with a budget of about $90 million and more than 300 lawyers, investigators, and other employees. In addition to their staff, this budget helps provide support to crime victims and their families as well as witnesses, helping an estimated 16,000 in 2019.

They have the authority to set policies like whether or not to seek prison or jail sentences for people convicted of drug offenses or theft, or to divert these people into treatment programs or other alternatives.

They also watch the watchmen and investigate fatal police shootings & police brutality cases. It is up to the District Attorney to decide whether or not to charge law enforcement officers for unjustified uses of force.

Our current methods of policing and prosecution have led us to aggressively throw people in prison regardless of the severity of their transgression. This heavy, punitive strategy has not curbed crime in heavily affected communities.

Other countries have figured out solutions to hold people accountable for serious crimes yet have compassionate responses for those who struggle with addiction or mental health issues.

This election cycle provides a unique opportunity for voters to help shape the future of justice in our county. It’s essential that all of us in Alameda County research the current batch of candidates and vote for someone with values that align with making our communities safe and supportive.

District Attorney Candidate Websites:
Pamela Price

Seth Steward

Terry Wiley

Jimmie Wilson
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Jake Waters, a resident of Birdland,
on May 18, 2022 at 11:15 am

Jake Waters is a registered user.

Nicely done Monith. A very informative straightforward article.

Posted by Paul Clark, a resident of Danville,
on May 20, 2022 at 8:17 am

Paul Clark is a registered user.

"While the U.S. is the richest country in the world, and Alameda County is one of the richest counties in America our incarceration rates are magnitudes higher than countries with similar levels of resources. The majority first world countries have incarceration rates well below 100 per 100,000. "

So I just took a drive down San Leandro Street from High St. all the way down to and through San Leandro. With all of Alameda County's "wealth," I am left wondering why for the entirety of its length, San Leandro St looks like a third world country? The building adjacent to the one where I was doing business burned to the ground over a year ago, and yet the debris from the fire, which totally destroyed it, is still on-site. Plus I watched "local neighbors" unloading their personal trash from their pickup truck onto the site. So my question is, since we read here Alameda County is "rich," why isn't all of this cleaned up? I can tell you that the "transition" from East Oakland to San Leandro is dramatic. The filth stops at the border between the two cities.

Posted by Joe Reed, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on May 20, 2022 at 9:58 am

Joe Reed is a registered user.

Thanks to the Pleasanton Weekly (PW) for reminding everyone of the importance of voting in the current Primary Election. I would encourage every reader to vote immediately and drop off your ballot at approved locations. I would recommend the PW publish an article with the locations of the ballot drop-off locations. I would also encourage every voter to read the Voter Information Guide published by Alameda County and sent to all voters. If you have not yet received it or your ballot, you may want to register to vote immediately. Website to register: Web Link Finally, I draw your attention to the Candidate Statements in the Voter Guide right after the Sample Ballot. Only two candidates published a Candidate Statement. These statements cost the candidate over $13k to submit. None of the other candidates chose to publish a statement and let you know a bit about themselves. Even the incumbent, whose salary we are paying and who has hundreds of thousands of $ in his campaign fund, did not publish a statement. I believe we should all view this as a sign of his disrespect to the voters in our district. Without making this a campaign speech for any specific candidate or mentioning any candidate by name, I would recommend only considering one of the two candidates who chose to publish a statement for us, the voters, in the Alameda County Voter Information Guide.

Posted by Malcolm Hex, a resident of San Ramon,
on May 21, 2022 at 3:49 pm

Malcolm Hex is a registered user.

The title: Why This District Attorney Race Matters, is a curious piece of thought collection, history, and personal view. I'll go straight for the jugular, so to speak.

On March 23, 2022, Russia's parliament adopted amendments effectively expanding the ban on criticizing the armed forces to ban criticism of all Russian government actions abroad. Peaceful protesters were thrown in jail.

On November 7, 2021, Daniel Ortega, the country's incumbent president and winner, took some alarming and authoritarian measures. He detained credible challengers who planned to run against him, shut down opposition parties, banned large campaign events and closed voting stations en masse."

As far as Honduras goes, ask yourself why so many Hondurans are leaving their country for the United States. The gang problems facing Hondurans down there are horrific.

But here is the fatal flaw in your pitch, Monith. You stated the following:

“Our current methods of policing and prosecution have led us to aggressively throw people in prison regardless of the severity of their transgression."

Really? If that's the case, then why are you such a proponent to vote in favor of your favorite flavor�"regarding your choice of district attorney candidates, that is?

BTW, A new poll released this year shows a majority of San Francisco voters plan to vote to recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin next month. The big number in this poll: 57% of registered voters plan to recall Boudin. Less than a quarter, 22%, plan to reject the recall, and 21% are undecided.

About 46% of offenders released in California are re-convicted within three years of release, and even more are rearrested. Furthermore, many of those inmates have been incarcerated for violence along with drug possession. I suggest you remember one thing: criminals are opportunists.

The “defund the police" movement appears to have fizzled. The pendulum is beginning to swing back in favor of enforcing the law.

Follow this blogger.
Sign up to be notified of new posts by this blogger.



Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from DanvilleSanRamon.com sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Burning just one "old style" light bulb can cost $150 or more per year
By Sherry Listgarten | 1 comment | 1,565 views

Reflecting on lives this Thanksgiving Day
By Tim Hunt | 0 comments | 963 views