Local News

League of Women Voters Hosts DA Candidate Forum

The League of Women Voters of North Orange County, a nonpartisan political organization that encourages voter participation, conducted a candidate forum for the Orange County District Attorney candidates on May 10. This forum took place entirely over Zoom, was live-streamed on Facebook, and has been uploaded to LWVNOC’s YouTube channel.

Only three of the four candidates participated in the forum; the incumbent Todd Spitzer was absent. Spitzer sent opening remarks which were read out by the forum moderator. There will not be any more candidate forums for the DA race. Elections are on June 7. 

If you missed the forum, here is a summary of where the candidates stand on some of the major issues:

Solutions to Implicit Bias

Peter Hardin: We need diversity in the DA office and law enforcement so that they represent the county we live in. Another solution is charging cases where the prosecutors do not know what the racial breakdown is of the people involved.

Bryan Chehock: The best way to combat discrimination is to diversify the DA’s office and the entire justice system.

Michael Jacobs: Combating implicit bias is a work in progress. Leadership is very important and the application of the law has to be fair in order to deal with bias.

Community-Based Mental Health Treatment in Place of Incarceration

All candidates in attendance agreed that diversion programs and alternative courts are effective and that more programs are needed to help those who are mentally ill instead of incarcerating them.

CA Supreme Court Ruling Eliminating Cash Bail for Those Who Cannot Afford it

Hardin: Supports the court ruling.

Chehock: Supports, but with a qualification. He thinks that those who need to stay in jail should be evaluated based on the danger of flight or hurting others. Money should not be a factor in deciding bail.

Jacobs: Does not agree with the ruling.

Death Penalty

Hardin: Should not be pursued and is wildly expensive, instead life without parole is a better option for the worst offenders.

Chehock: Largely symbolic in CA but should be rarely appropriated with complete support from the family of the victims.

Jacobs: Death penalty still has a place in the legal system and should be applied very carefully.

Homelessness Crisis

Hardin: The DA office plays a big role in the homelessness crisis to help homeless people transition back into society as a public safety matter.

Chehock: Homelessness problems do not reside with the DA office or the justice system. DA’s office needs to deal with laws to not worsen the problem.

Jacobs: There is a limitation on what the DA office can do in this matter. The office can help with matching homeless people who enter the criminal system to programs that best help them.

Opinions on Prop 57-The Public Safety & Rehabilitation Act (2016): 

Hardin: Supports Prop 57.

Chehock: Supports Prop 57.

Jacobs: Questions the application because it takes away the DA’s discretion.

Campaign Finance

As of May 13, Todd Spitzer has raised $424,525, mostly from individuals and businesses. Some notable contributors include: Harvey Sparber Bailbonds ($4400), Jason E. Meyerson Bail Bond Professionals ($2,000), and College Republicans of CA ($2,000). Key endorsements include: Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, Orange County Professional Firefighters Association, Association of Orange County Deputy District Attorneys, Westminster Police Officers’ Association, Huntington Beach Police Officers’ Association, The Republican Party of Orange County, The Lincoln Club of Orange County, Santa Ana Police Officers’ Association.

As of May 13, Pete Hardin has raised 173,702, mostly from individuals. Some notable contributors include: Alexander Busansky of Impact Justice ($2,000), Democratic Club of West Orange County ($500), Laguna Beach Democratic Club ($1,500), Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties’ Community Action Fund PAC ($2,200), and Smart Justice California Action Fund ($2,200). Endorsements include Democratic Party of Orange County, Moms Demand Action/Gun Sense, VoteVets, Planned Parenthood of San Bernadino and Orange Counties, Women for American Values and Ethics, Service Employees International Union/United Healthcare Workers West.

As of May 13, Michael Jacobs has raised $16,720 (mostly from individuals), including an $11,899 loan to himself. His web site does not list any endorsements.

Bryan Chehock has not reported any campaign contributions or endorsements.