Yolo DA candidates meet for second debate

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About 100 citizens filled the Woodland Community & Senior Center, and another 60 joined remotely, for the second forum for Yolo district attorney race candidates on on Wednesday, April 27

The nonpartisan event was a joint effort organized by the Woodland League of Women Voters and Davis Area League. Davis resident Michelle Famula moderated the event.

Candidates, incumbent Jeff Reisig and challenger Cynthia Rodriguez, met for their second and notably more spirited debate. The candidates faced off in their first debate on March 10 in a forum hosted by the Yolo County Taxpayers Association.

Reisig is seeking his fifth term as district attorney and pointed to innovative programs developed under his leadership as reason he should be re-elected.

Rodriguez, on the other hand, pointed to rising crime rates and suggested that Reisig’s programs are not actually working.

Although professional, there was more than a subtle change in the candidates’ demeanor toward each since their first debate.

Rodriguez, a practicing attorney for 40 years has worked for the Dept. of Corrections administratively prosecuting correctional officer and staff misconduct and managing litigation. She has also worked as a public defender and served as general counsel for the California Dept. of Mental Health and the California Dept. of State Hospitals.

Rodriguez is a 30-year resident of Yolo County and resides with her family on a small farm on the outskirts of Winters.

Reisig has served as district attorney since 2007, winning reelection in 2010, 2014 and 2018 and has spent all but one of his 26-year legal career with the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office.

Reisig sits on the board of the 2022-23 California District Attorneys Association and serves as the board’s president.

As DA, Reisig has pushed for community-based programs and unveiled a portal on the district attorney’s website providing access to information from his office.

Reisig was first to introduce himself to the audience. He said he has prosecuted murder, rape, child molest and theft crimes. He noted that people may not know Yolo County prosecutes 7,000 cases annually.

Reisig alleged Rodriguez lacks experience as a criminal prosecutor and asserted for that reason he’s the only person qualified for the job.

Rodriguez countered that she has been interning for the job for 40 years. Unlike her opponent, she said her experience has been gained from more than one office with each inherently tied to the criminal justice system.

“I have worked as a defense attorney defending constitutional rights,” Rodriguez said, and reminded Resig that she has prosecuted prison misconduct cases and worked closely with peace officers.

Critical issues
The candidates were asked to highlight the greatest critical issues facing Yolo County, how they would build community trust, reduce crime and ensure public safety.

Rodriguez identified public safety and mental health as two of the most critical issues. Rodriguez insisted that more mental health programs are needed to deal with the number of people encountered in the criminal justice system. “We are just waiting for them to come back and commit new crimes and make more victims.”

Reisig said, “There are so many critical issues we can talk about tonight,” but narrowed them down to homelessness and violent crime. To combat homelessness and violent crime, Reisig said he is a strong supporter of Care Court legislation that would allow courts to order people with severe mental illness to submit to a care plan.

Homelessness, addiction and mental illness are interrelated and addiction is a mental illness, Reisig said. Care Court, he said “is about giving the serious mentally ill additional services and treatment.”

Reisig then defended his tenure as DA and the programs introduced under his leadership while minimizing Rodriguez’s approach, her police relationships and qualifying experience to be DA.

“I just don’t think Miss Rodriguez has done any homework on my office. I’ve been here 25 years. I’ve never seen her in a courtroom in Yolo County. I never knew her until she said she was running,” Reisig said.

Rodriguez retorted that she has the necessary experience and quipped that if Reisig was doing such a great job, then why is crime rising in Yolo County?

“It’s not true that I’ve never been in a courtroom in Yolo County. It’s not true that I don’t know what the DA does. I’ve worked with all kinds of people and it’s unfortunate that those misrepresentations are coming to you,” Rodriguez responded.

For more information on the candidates, their positions and vision, visit their campaign websites at: www.cynthia4yolocountyda.com and www.jeffreisig.com

Primary election
The Yolo County District Attorney election date is June 7, the date of the statewide direct primary election.

The Yolo County Elections Office announced all active registered voters in Yolo County should expect their ballot to arrive in their mailbox by Monday, May 16. Registered voters who do not receive their  ballot by Tuesday, May 17 should contact the Yolo County Elections Office.

The Winters Vote Center will be located at the Public Safety Facility – EOC Training Room, 702 W Main St. starting Saturday, June 4 through Monday, June 6 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Election Day, Tuesday, June 7 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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