“This election has become about the future of Contra Costa County” – Paul Graves
By Allen Payton
On Friday night, Sept. 22, about 100 people gathered in Pleasant Hill to help Contra Costa County’s Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Graves officially kick off his campaign for DA in next year’s election.
Surrounded by colleagues in the DA’s office, two former District Attorneys, police officers, deputy sheriffs and even criminal defense attorneys who represent the people he prosecutes, Graves was showered with accolades from leaders in county law enforcement.
Deputy District Attorney Colleen Gleason was first to share her thoughts about her colleague.
“Paul is a leader. He’s right there in the trenches with you,” she stated. “Nobody works harder on Paul’s team than Paul. That’s the kind of leader Paul is.”
“You knew he had your back,” Gleason shared of her experience working with Graves. “He had only one rule. You kept in contact with your victims’ families. This is a job of service. Paul leads by example and through service.”
“He is a natural born problem solver. Paul is known as being one of the best strategic thinkers in the legal community. There’s always a line out the door of his office,” she continued. “He’s fought at every level. He knows the terrain. He knows the community, what works and what still needs work.”
“He has a plan for attacking human trafficking in our streets. He has a plan for preventing crime. He also has the ability to sell these ideas. That’s because he’s won the respect with everyone he’s worked with,” Gleason said. “Over the past few months I’ve seen him win over people who didn’t want to like him. As he put it, he kept making friends. Paul is able to bring out the best in the people around him.”
Regarding the campaign, she said, “this is a fight he needs to win not just for him but for all the community. This time he needs us to have his back.”
“Paul is not only the leader this county deserves but the problem solver it needs,” Gleason concluded.
Next to speak and share his perspective on Graves was Deputy Sheriff’s Association President Sean Welch.
The word got around and people were asking, “Did you hear Paul’s running? I knew it was all over for the others in the race,” he stated.
“We know him as a great leader for us. He’s the type of guy who takes the investigator’s hands and walks them through the process to make sure they’re convicted and go to prison,” Welch explained. “Tact, integrity, honest and truthful. Sound principles above all else. Confidence, knowledge, loyalty, endurance. These are all things I look for in a good leader and I believe that Paul represents all of them.”
“The DA has goals of keeping people safe,” he shared. “Paul respects victims of crime and their rights,” but he will “hold criminals accountable for their actions.”
“Diana Becton and another person on that list were caught plagiarizing. To think she actually got picked as the interim DA,” said Welch. “The worst thing you can do as a law enforcement officer is to lie especially on their forms. To me it is unforgivable. I would no longer have a job. For a simple copy and paste of a sentence, one sentence. It was disheartening that was looked over.”
He continued his criticism of Becton saying, “she’s never been a prosecutor. She’s never done it. The stories of people taking a nap during the day and people had to wait around. She has been a public defender. It’s kind of the opposite side.”
“One thing that was amazing to me being in law enforcement after the plagiarism, the local paper endorsed him (Graves). Even the paper’s behind him,” Welch added. “We take it very seriously when we get behind someone.”
“The majority of all law enforcement in the county are supporting Paul,” said Clayton Councilman Dave Shuey, the MC for the evening. “His amazing empathy. Even some defendants come back and tell him he did a good job. One particular defendant he put away who came back and thanked Paul for it.”
“I’ve been a defense attorney for 25-plus years,” he stated. “Paul has the unique ability to look at both sides. He never loses sight of the victims and he wants to do right by the families.”
Shuey then introduced Graves’ wife and children.
“He’s done 70 trials and had 20 convictions of people, in prison for life who are never coming out again,” he added as he introduced the candidate.
Then Graves spoke to his supporters in the room.
“I look around the room and I cannot be anything but fired up and excited about this campaign,” he exclaimed.
He introduced former District Attorney Gary Yancey, saying, “he taught me what I needed to know about being a prosecutor. It’s about appreciating people in the office. I’ve patterned my work as a prosecutor on Gary Yancey.”
“Then I got to work with Bob Kochly (who was also in attendance) who became my next DA. Honesty and integrity,” Graves stated. “It makes me feel like I’m standing in from of my dad and he’s saying ‘you done good and you got this.’”
“It’s about the people in the community,” he continued. “For years I coached a baseball team, the Bulldogs. Seeing them now as young men, I can’t tell you how much it means to have them here. These are the families a DA needs to remember, who want to be raised in a safe community.”
Then Graves spoke about his colleagues in local law enforcement.
“The vast majority of the people who are here are in law enforcement,” he stated. “They work long hours. They work late nights. To have their support is really humbling. They see me day to day.”
Graves thanked his wife and children.
“Nothing prepares you for a county wide campaign,” he explained. “I feel like a bad husband and father for it. But they want me to do what’s right.”
Speaking of his wife, Graves said, “she’s my moral compass and the greatest person I’ve ever met. I’m just trying to be half the person she is.”
He then shared how he made the decision to run, first against his then-boss, Mark Peterson.
“Back in May,” Graves started to explain then stopped. “It was actually something that started in our office last November. I had the people in our office who I respect ask me to step up and run. It was a difficult decision.”
“I talked to my wife and told her I was going to run against my boss and I will probably get demoted and if I lose my career,” he shared. “She said we’ve always tried to do the right thing. This is the right thing. So, let’s do it.”
Then Graves shared about the support from his colleagues.
“I looked to the left and to the right and everyone stepped forward with me,” he stated. “This campaign has never been about me. It’s about us. I’m not running for me. We’re running for this position together.”
Graves then shared some of the reasons he wants to be Contra Costa’s next District Attorney.
“Honesty, integrity and ethics are the primary concerns of this office,” he stated. “Who will put public safety first? Who cares that we can drive on our freeways without getting shot at, about human trafficking? Who cares about victims of crime?”
“It’s not going to be easy. But when you’re doing it for the right reason, for the right cause nothing is lost,” Graves said, encouraging his supporters. “When we go forward we need to know what this campaign is about. This election has now become about the future of Contra Costa County. The battle lines have been drawn. I’m going to keep fighting for you.”
“We need to fight together for this. I will never quit. I will fight for this county until my dying breath. Where public safety is taken first where victims’ rights are the focus and an office that people say that’s where I want to work,” Graves concluded.
For more information about Graves’ campaign, visit, www.paulgravesforda.com. The election will be held in June 2018. If no candidates wins during the Primary, the top two vote-getters will face off in the General Election next November.