ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Come November, history will be made within the Alameda County District Attorney's office.
"One of these candidates will be the first African American, but will also show people of Alameda County that African Americans can do this job, and hopefully, do it very effectively," says Terrance J. Evans, a partner at Duane Morris LLP.
Evans is also the current president of the Charles Houston Bar Association, the largest Black bar association in California.
He says the head-to-head runoff on November 8 for the new district attorney between Pamela Price and Terry Wiley is important because of the office's influence across the state and due the challenges the county faces.
"Having members of the community feel like they can trust the system in ways that they can support the system," says Evans.
Both Price and Wiley are advocating for more transparency, alternatives to incarceration, and ending the death penalty. But there are some stark contrasts.
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Price is a reform candidate and civil rights attorney, who received the most votes in the June election among the four candidates. But she failed to get a majority, which prompted the runoff with Wiley.
She is running on a 10-point plan, which includes race-neutral bail, sentencing reform and to stop over-criminalizing youth.
Terry Wiley is currently the Chief Deputy D.A. for Alameda County, and a 32-year veteran of the department. He has strong support from law enforcement.
His priorities include focusing on repeat offenders, more corporate accountability, and to strengthen partnerships with victim advocates.
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Evans says this year's recall of San Francisco D.A. Chesa Boudin, shows the challenges of the job. He believes Wiley's experience gives him the advantage.
"It is important to have relationships with folks, to understand those systems within the D.A.'s office work, in order to make those types of changes," says Evans.
Whoever takes office faces immediate challenges, including escalating gun violence in Oakland, problems at the Santa Rita jail in Dublin, and fallout from the Alameda County Sheriff's Office over the 47 employees who failed psychological evaluations.
"Studies show that black men regularly receive longer jail sentences. So, it is a racial justice issue in who is the D.A.," says Saabir Lockett, the Director of Faith Alliance at EBASE.
EBASE is a community-based group, whose work includes helping those who were formerly incarcerated.
He wants a break from what he calls, "a corrupt system." His remedy for change is to bring in someone from outside the established system, a system that Wiley has been a part of.
"In Pamela Price we do have new change. We have someone who is a civil rights attorney doing direct work with those who are impacted by oppression," says Lokcett.
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