While the race for district attorney in Santa Barbara County may be heated, there is no real debate when looking at the candidates’ issue positions and backgrounds.
As an intern in the DA’s office for some time now, I see students approaching this race in one of two ways. Some remember what the role of the district attorney is and will vote with the knowledge that Christie Stanley is both experienced and does in fact differ from Tom Sneddon, and some will vote in response to their frustration with police and laws, resulting in an inexperienced district attorney who is light on crime and unconcerned about the real issues that Isla Vista faces.
If Isla Vistans wants so badly to be drunk in public and smoke dope, take that up with the people who pass those laws. If Isla Vistans wants to combat unfair police discretion and brutality, I believe there is a sheriff’s race approaching too. The role of the district attorney is to prosecute all the cases he or she can in a predictable and consistent manner according to the law – not to change or abuse the law.
The Michael Jackson inquisition by the district attorney’s office did, in fact, abuse the law, the tax payers’ money and the power of the office. But of the three candidates running for DA, Doug Hayes and Gary Dunlap are actually more like Sneddon than Stanley because they will abuse the power of the DA’s office by choosing what laws to enforce. Sneddon ran campaigns against pop stars. Hayes and Dunlap promise not to prosecute marijuana offenses or vandalism because there are too many people in jail.
Sneddon’s endorsement of Stanley is nothing more than his understanding of Stanley’s hard work and his hope to keep the office united against the sleaze of the two defense attorneys running against her. Sneddon saw his mistakes and does not want them repeated. That is why he is not running again.
Stanley was actually prosecuting a federal triple-murder case at the time that the Jackson case was tried, so she was not involved in it. Her jury came back with a conviction.
When Stanley says she will maintain and improve Sneddon’s existing policies, she means she will continue to try her triple-murder homicide cases, gang-related cases and, specifically, elder-abuse cases. She does not plan on wasting more resources with personal campaigns. Stanley actually plans to deal with the I.V. community in a way different from Sneddon; a way that will protect the students from the rising gang population.
If you don’t buy this, look at their backgrounds. Stanley commuted for four years to the Ventura College of Law from Lompoc as a woman and a mother. Stanley has been involved in the district attorney’s office for over 25 years now, working on every possible case. For aspiring law students, she exemplifies just where hard work can get you.
Hayes is a criminal defense lawyer. He boasts his prosecutorial work, but that was 30 years ago. Hayes seems to be a good politician. He knows how to highlight his “look the other way” policy toward drugs and drinking in Isla Vista, but did he tell you he will not prosecute bicycle theft? Don’t go for the guy who is playing to the I.V. community in political campaigns; look at the substance behind his remarks to see if he is also a good lawyer.
Dunlap, an attorney/businessman, has a $10 million lawsuit pending against the DA’s office. He pleaded no contest in 2003 for a marijuana-related misdemeanor. He wants to charge 15 percent fewer criminals. Stanley asks us, no matter how bloated our system may be, just which offenses we will decide to stop charging.
Both Hayes and Dunlap have spent the bulk of their careers attacking law enforcement.
Stanley has most of the key endorsements in the race and is the second-highest ranking prosecutor in the county.
“The elected position of district attorney is not a place for on-the-job training,” she said. “I am the only candidate with a proven record of public safety.”
Vote for consistency and a good record come June 6. Do not fall for the political maneuvers of misdirected attorneys.
Sally Marois is a fourth-year political science and law & society major.