Following is a letter from six groups in the county to the members of the Board of Supervisors:
Dear Chairman Glover and Supervisors Andersen, Burgis, Gioia and Mitchoff,
Our community was shocked and angered last week to hear that former District Attorney Mark Peterson pled guilty to felony charges related to the illegal use of campaign funds, leading to his resignation. This unethical and dangerous abuse of power by the elected District Attorney is deeply concerning to us and we write today in the spirit of working to rebuild trust between local government in Contra Costa, including law enforcement and the District Attorney’s office, and the community they are meant to serve.
We believe a critical first step to rebuilding trust is for the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors to engage in a fully transparent and community-centered process for appointing an interim District Attorney.
On behalf of Contra Costa County voters, we urge our Board to commit to a transparent, community-first process in making its selection of an interim District Attorney. In addition, we believe it is important for the Board to only consider applicants who have not filed to run in the June 2018 primary.
The District Attorney is one of the most powerful elected officials in county government and is the most powerful actor in our criminal justice system. The decisions made by the District Attorney impact every county resident, not just those who are directly involved in the criminal justice system. From determining when and what charges to file in individual cases; to making policy decisions that affect local communities as well as county and state budgets; to holding law enforcement accountable for unfair policies and practices, the Contra Costa District Attorney holds significant power and responsibility for the protection of our civil rights and freedoms.
For these reasons and more, it is critically important that our Board protect and uphold the right of the people of Contra Costa County to an inclusive and transparent process for appointment of an interim District Attorney.
In a transparent, community-first process, the Board of Supervisors should consider the following:
- Publicly post a proposed process and timeline for appointment of an interim District Attorney;
- Allow for public comment on the proposed process for appointment, consider comments, and post final process;
- Only consider applications for interim appointment from individuals who are not currently running for District Attorney of Contra Costa County in 2018;
- Solicit applications from lawyers in the community to apply for interim appointment and make submitted applications available for review by the public;
- Hold public hearings at times convenient to working people with commute schedules, to receive input about nominees and other recommendations; and
- Hold a final public hearing to vote for the interim District Attorney.
Due to the recent resignation and guilty plea by former District Attorney Mark Peterson, the people of Contra Costa County deserve transparency and fairness in the appointment of the interim District Attorney. It is incumbent upon the Board to begin to remedy the breakdown of trust between the community and government by taking the lead to ensure a fair and community-first process. We welcome the opportunity to support the efforts of our Board of Supervisors to achieve these very important goals.