How do you feel about the death penalty? Or the three-strikes-and-you're-out law in California? Or trying 14-year-olds as adults? Or favoring police officers in the court system so that any crimes that they commit get viewed under a different light? Or what to do about convicted sexual offenders living near our homes?
These were just a series of questions asked this week to the two candidates running for the DA's race in Santa Clara County. And all these questions come under the purview of the DA's office.
I had the marvelous opportunity to moderate a debate on Monday at the Rotary Club of Palo Alto (of which I am a member) between Judge Dolores Carr and Assistant District Attorney Karyn Sinunu, the two candidates in a heated race for District Attorney of Santa Clara County. It's a race for a very important seat.
Very important because we are talking about a county office that has 190 attorneys (think about the salaries attorneys made), 90 to 100 special investigators, an office that supervises the county Crime Lab, and an office that has a $68 million annual budget.
Most of us yawn about such local election issues. Most of us never get to know the candidates (just as we don't get to know judicial candidates).
So the debate on Monday was a great opportunity to learn a lot. Both of these candidates, both of whom are women, are articulate, knowledgeable, and practiced attorneys. We are very lucky to have them running for the DA seat. This time it's a choice, not an echo.
Interestingly, if elected, they will probably be re-elected, and re-elected, and re-elected to four-year terms of office. This office usually becomes a lifetime occupation provided the DA does not do anything ridiculous. We are talking about a long-term office here.
So I ask, how do you feel about the death penalty? Should the DA's office urge that the more heinous criminals be subject to a death penalty? And how do you feel about the third-strike option, particularly if the third strike is a minor crime, like stealing a tire, or a crime against oneself possessing a couple of grams of marijuana. And how do you feel about trying 14-year-olds as adults? Or 13-year-olds?
I remember when my sons were 14-years-old, they were still short-kid freshmen and just getting acne.
My point: This is a critical race. Let's talk about the issues involved.
Karyn Sinunu's home page is Web Link, and Dolores Carr's is Web Link