Although the recent elections are over and the Board of Supervisors officially appointed Joyce Dudley to the position of Santa Barbara County District Attorney yesterday morning, the race is still plagued with controversy.
Dudley won the election against Joshua Lynn on June 8 with 54.1 percent of the vote. Acting D.A. Ann Bramsen notified Lynn just days after losing the election that he would no longer be employed with the County District Attorney’s Office as Chief Trial Deputy — a position he held for the past two years.
In a press release, Bramsen stated that Lynn was given a paid day off of work on June 14 to “ensure a smooth transition upon return to the office.”
Bramsen claimed that she wanted to find a suitable position for Lynn so intra-office dynamics would not be jeopardized. However, she said that inappropriate conduct during Lynn’s time off led to his termination.
“Lynn took the one paid day off and twisted it in an inappropriate way that is negatively affecting the office,” Bramsen said.
Since the expulsion, questions have been raised as to whether Bramsen and Dudley worked together to remove Lynn. Craig Smith, a local blogger and professor at the UCSB extension school in Ventura, expressed concerns.
“It’s hard to believe that Dudley wasn’t involved,” Smith said. “Bramsen admitted that she consulted Dudley, even though in the end [Bramsen] insists that the decision to fire him was hers and hers alone. Other than, at worst, grouse about being ordered to take some extra time off, neither Bramsen or Dudley have been able to satisfactorily explain what he did to merit getting fired.”
Smith noted that Bramsen only had the right to fire Lynn with a just explanation and the sudden removal of Lynn sent the wrong message to the community.
“This was an open seat he ran for which he lost,” Smith said. “Is the message being sent that if someone else in the office should want to run for the top spot or even oppose Dudley when she is up for reelection, they should be prepared to find another job if they lose? I don’t think that’s what our concept of democracy is about.”
Dudley addressed concerns of foul play by stating that the only way to resolve public uncertainty would be “by working hard to effectively and efficiently increase public safety and by running a more transparent office.”
Despite the controversy surrounding Lynn’s removal, Dudley stated that she is excited to begin her new career and looks forward to increasing and perpetuating justice in Santa Barbara County.