Jill Ravitch is first woman DA in Sonoma Co.

June 9, 2010 2:09:58 PM PDT
Sonoma County has a new district attorney, according to complete unofficial election results.

Former Sonoma County prosecutor Jill Ravitch defeated District Attorney Stephan Passalacqua by 7,308 votes, receiving the approval of 54 percent of the county's voters.

If the count holds up when all ballots, including remaining absentee votes, are counted, she'll be the first woman to hold that office.

Ravitch, of Sebastopol, who celebrated her 52nd birthday Tuesday, is currently a chief deputy district attorney in Mendocino County. She lost to Passalacqua, 47, of Healdsburg, by 1,700 votes when she challenged him four years ago.

In the Sonoma County District 4 supervisor's contest, Healdsburg Councilman Mike McGuire appears to have soundly defeated Windsor Councilwoman Debora Fudge. He'll replace Paul Kelly, who did not run for re-election, on the board in January.

McGuire received 11,664 votes, nearly 62 percent, and Fudge got 7,136 votes, according to the unofficial figures.

In the south county's District 2 seat, Petaluma Mayor Pam Torliatt and Petaluma Councilman David Rabbitt are headed for a runoff election in November.

None of the four candidates received more than 50 percent of the vote. Torliatt and Rabbitt defeated rancher John King and Petaluma Councilman Mike Healy. The winner will take the set vacated by Mike Kerns, who is retiring.

Torliatt received 6,607 votes, or 37.5 percent, and Rabbitt tallied 4,456 votes, or 25.3 percent. King and Healy got 18 and 19 percent, respectively.

Ravitch called for new leadership in the district attorney's office, which she said has high staff turnover, top-heavy management and among the worst felony conviction rates in the state.

She cited her 18 years experience prosecuting more than 100 jury trials that secured 12 murder convictions in Sonoma, Alameda and Mendocino counties.

Passalacqua claimed the district attorney's office has a felony trial conviction rate of 88 percent and violent crime is down in Sonoma County, 27 percent in Santa Rosa alone.

Passalacqua said he cracked down on violent gang members and sexual predators and raised community awareness of elder abuse and consumer fraud. He said he had increased efficiency and performance standards in the office and hired veteran prosecutors to prosecute gang and homicide cases.

The campaign heated up when Passalacqua made unsubstantiated allegations Ravitch swapped "sweetheart deals" for campaign contributions in Mendocino County. Court officials and the Mendocino County District Attorney cited documents discrediting the claim.

Passalacqua also criticized Ravitch in his campaign mailers for changing jobs several times during her career as an attorney and prosecutor.

In the North county supervisorial race, Fudge, 54, claimed she has experience in fiscal responsibility, transportation alternatives, environmental protection and water supply management.

She said Windsor is in the best financial shape of any Sonoma County city and as Chair of Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit, she supports the SMART commuter train between Cloverdale and Larkspur.

McGuire, 30, said as a councilman and mayor, he has created partnerships with small businesses to create jobs, and as a school board member, led the effort to rebuild decaying schools and secure money for classrooms.

McGuire also helped form the Clean Water Coalition of Sonoma County to protect the Russian River ecosystem and clean drinking water.

In the southern Sonoma County supervisor contest, accountant and rancher John King challenged three Petaluma City Council members.

King, an advocate of protecting agricultural lands and sustainable water supplies, called for an audit of the county's general fund, an end to wasteful spending and top-heavy management and unnecessary red tape in the county's Permit and Resources Management Department.

Torliatt said she favors smart growth, protecting open spaces and eliminating budget deficits. She cited her 18 years of executive leadership in regional and local government and the city's innovative planning to revitalize Petaluma's downtown.

Rabbitt, 49, listed creating jobs and a better economy as his priorities. He helped create the Petaluma City Schools District's Fund Development Task Force and co-founded Support Healthy Active Kids in Education organization.

Healy, 52, said he supports the SMART train, widening U.S. Highway 101 from Rohnert Park to Novato and increasing funding for road improvements. He said he was the independent voice and consensus builder on the Petaluma City Council and opposed the proposed Indian casino in Rohnert Park.

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