Alameda Co. voters to make history electing 1st Black DA: Here are candidates' stances on issues

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Friday, November 4, 2022
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Alameda County voters will make history electing their first Black district attorney. Here's where the candidates are on the issues.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- For the first time in nearly four decades there's no incumbent or appointed successor in the race for district attorney in Alameda County. The race between the two candidates Terry Wiley and Pamela Price is wide open.

The two candidates offer different visions for policing, public safety, and accountability.

Pamela Price is a civil rights lawyer who bills herself as a reform candidate campaigning on progressive policies like ending cash bail.

In her own words, she stands for "integrity, independence, transparency, equity and accountability."

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Terry Wiley is a 32-year veteran of the Alameda County District Attorney's office. He now serves as chief deputy district attorney and is serving on a more "pragmatic approach" to the job.

"I stand for a safe community. If someone should happen to come into contact with the criminal justice system I want it to be a fair and just system," he said.

ABC7 News Anchor and Race & Social Justice reporter Julian Glover sat down with both candidates vying to be Alameda County's top prosecutor with a week to go until Election Day.

Here's what each candidate vows to tackle immediately if elected.

Price said she would work to immediately implement the mandates of the Racial Justice Act.

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The law makes it illegal for the state to pursue a criminal conviction on the basis of race, ethnicity, or national origin and addresses disparities in sentencing.

She also mentioning the need to address people being prosecuted who have a mental illness.

"I need to immediately identify people we're prosecuting who are suffering from mental illness or have been incarcerated simply because maybe they ran afoul of the law because of their mental illness," she said.

"I would change the culture of the district attorney's office. Look -- I have a different life experience than Nancy O'Malley," Wiley said.

Wiley is distancing himself from his current boss Nancy O'Malley, who is retiring after a controversial 13-year tenure as DA.

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Wiley said he wants to change the culture by diversifying the DA's office. This includes tripling the number of Asian American prosecutors.

This is Price's second run for office. She ran against O'malley in 2018, winning 42% of the vote.

Price also claimed more votes than Wiley in the June primary, which featured four candidates.

The two candidates do agree on some changes they would implement, like never seeking the death penalty, increasing transparency in the office by releasing more stats on who is being prosecuted and decreasing the criminalization of minors.

But there are several areas where they differ, including what to do with the crowded Santa Rita Jail in Dublin -- one of the largest jails in the country with growing concerns over the treatment of people being held in custody.

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"Most people do not need to be held in Santa Rita County Jail," said Price. "They are either not a flight risk or they're not a danger to themselves or to other people. And even if they're a danger to themselves, that is not the place for mental health treatment."

Price said she would decrease the jail population by 25% in her first term by expanding diversion programs and decreasing the use of cash bail.

Wiley agreed on limiting cash bail for non-violent property crimes, but wouldn't commit to decreasing the jail population.

"We also want to make sure the community is safe," he said. "We're not going to be releasing people who've committed murder, rape, and robbery, just for the sake of having fewer people in Santa Rita jail."

The two candidates also differ on their message surrounding police accountability and public trust -- an issue in focus after the news that 47 Alameda County Sheriffs Deputies were unfit to serve because of failing psychological exam scores.

"We're going to have a public accountability unit that will be responsible for independently investigating any allegations of misconduct by police officers. We will hold them accountable," Price said.

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"We work hand-in-hand with law enforcement and trying to control the crime rate and make the community safe. So we're going to be working together. And so I'm not going to send a message that I'm out to get police officers, or any police officers working with us to make this a more safe community," Wiley said. "We will hold law enforcement to a high standard."

Wiley also said police departments like Oakland need more officers patrolling the streets. He said he supports hiring more police officers in Oakland.

With just days to go until Election Day, here are the candidates' final message to voters:

"The consequences are too serious to have someone who doesn't have any experience taking over the district attorney's office," said Wiley.

"People recognize we cannot incarcerate our way out of our problems. My election is just one more step and I'm joining a whole cadre of prosecutors across the country supporting progressive policies," said Price.

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