Following is an open letter to the Board of Supervisors from the organizations in Contra Costa County, listed below:
Dear Chairman Glover, and Supervisors Andersen, Burgis, Gioia, and Mitchoff,
We the undersigned would first like to commend the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors for holding the special June 23rd meeting to discuss the appointment process for our next district attorney and for posting the process and timeline on the county website. While we believe your intent is to engage in a transparent, community-first process to appoint the interim DA of our county, we have serious concerns about the current process as laid out.
In our June 22, 2017 letter to the Board, we expressed an interest in a transparent, community-first and community driven process to appoint the next DA. To us, this means the community is included in ALL decision-making points and is able to weigh in on substantive policy questions posed to each applicant. As currently outlined, we believe the process you have laid out excludes community input and fails to deliver on the promise of transparency.
Specifically, page 2 of the June 23rd press release issued by the County Administrator’s Office states, “With applications due July 21, the Board of Supervisors will select finalists in early August. The Board of Supervisors will host a moderated candidate forum at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 15, 2017.” This indicates that while the community will be allowed to ask questions of finalists selected by the Board, the community will have no involvement in the selection of finalists from the initial pool of applicants. We believe that narrowing the pool to 3-5 candidates is a critical first step and involvement from the community in this step, and all other steps until appointment, is essential to rebuilding trust.
To remedy this, we urge the Board of Supervisors to revisit the interim DA appointment process before July 21 by placing it on a July meeting agenda and consider some options, including:
- Create a community selection committee comprised of community leaders, reflective and representing the geographic and demographic diversity of the county, as well as representatives from the following constituencies and/or organizations: criminal justice reform, immigrant rights, formerly incarcerated individuals, victims’ rights, the Public Defender Union, the District Attorney Union, labor, consumer rights and law enforcement. This committee will be responsible for formulating questions for applicants to answer as part of the application process. This committee will also work with the Board in early August to select the finalists and the final rationale for why applicants were, or were not, selected as finalists.
- Host at least two community forums with applicants, one which will include all applicants and a second which will include the finalists.
- Disclose the following information in a timely manner: any past or present endorsement, campaign contribution, private meeting, and/or personal dealing between any member of the Board of Supervisors and any applicant for interim DA.
- Require all applicants for interim DA to disclose if they share the same political consultant and/or fundraiser with any members of the Board of Supervisors.
We the undersigned and the residents of Contra Costa County demand integrity from our Board of Supervisors in this process. We will not stand for corruption, closed door meetings or the doling out of favors. It is important to remember that the DA is an elected official and is ultimately accountable to us, the voters. We are fully aware that whomever the Board appoints to be our interim DA will have the advantage of incumbency come the June 2018 election. It is for this reason that the Board must include the community in all phases of the process and why we continue to advocate for a fully transparent and community-first process.
If the Board refuses to modify the process and address the concerns outlined in this letter, the public will not let the Board move forward without significant resistance.
Thank you again for your consideration of our requests and we look forward to re-establishing trust between the community and government by way of a modified process. If you have any questions for our coalition, please contact Sharlee Battle from Safe Return Project at SharleeBattle@gmail.com.