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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Race for Yolo County District Attorney’s office heats up

Incumbent Jeff Reisig challenged by candidate Cynthia Rodriguez

By RACHEL SHEY city@theaggie.org


The Yolo County primary election race is on June 7. Voters will be choosing two county supervisor seats, the sheriff and the district attorney’s seat. The current district attorney, Jeff Reisig, is campaigning for re-election against Cynthia Rodriguez, president of the West Yolo Democratic Club and an attorney of 40 years. Rodriguez is campaigning on a slogan of “Safety and Equal Justice.”

My vision is that we are a community office,” Rodriguez said. “Our community should feel welcome to come to our office and tell us about their concerns about crime and safety in the county, so that we have a real place for people’s voices to be heard, so that we have a place that victims and families and community members can come to share with us what they want done on their behalf.”

One of the major issues of the campaign is mental health. Rodriguez placed a focus on doing “positive things” for the community instead of doing things in “anger or to get back at someone.” Both she and Reisig mentioned approaching the issues that face the district attorney’s office with science-based evidence. 

“We try to find the root cause of the criminality,” Reisig said. “What is it that is driving this person to commit a crime? If it is mental illness, then there’s an assessment done by professionals that confirms that.” 

Reisig emphasized that the district attorney’s job is not to treat mental illness but to divert people to the appropriate location. 

 “We partner with Health and Human Services, and they are the expert,” Reisig said. “The district attorney is the chief law enforcement officer.”

Rodriguez believes that Reisig isn’t doing enough and is only “paying lip service” to mental health. She stated that the mental health court is not serving nearly enough people, and pointed out that a year in prison is more expensive to taxpayers than a robust mental health program. 

“All people with mental health issues who become involved with the criminal court should be steered towards mental health services,” Rodriguez said. “The DA has a mental health court which only serves 32 people every year and a half to two years. This does not make a dent in the thousands of people with mental health issues who come to his court. Instead he forces pleas, takes this very small number, and says he can’t afford to do more, but as we all know, a budget is a statement of priorities, and he has not prioritized services to mental health.”

Reisig disagreed with Rodriguez’s statements, saying that they were merely campaign rhetoric. 

“One of the things she keeps repeating is that the programs have barely helped anybody,” Reisig said. “It’s an opinion, and it’s an incendiary statement, and it ignores the fact that we’ve helped hundreds of people through the mental health diversion program, thousands of people through our restorative justice diversion programs, that have really robust community engagement, and then our addiction intervention courts, which are dealing with people who are seriously addicted.”

One of the more divisive events that has occurred in the course of the campaigns so far has been an accusation from Reisig that Rodriguez accepted donations from child molesters, according to an article in the Davis Vanguard. Rodriguez said that the accusation was irrelevant to the important issues of the campaign. 

“I thought that was a remark meant to distract,” Rodriguez said. “It wasn’t about the issues of the campaign, the issues of the campaign have been public safety and the ability of people to live in Yolo County with freedom from fear or danger, and the ability of the county to deal with the issues of drug and alcohol abuse, mental health issues, crime, homelessness.”

Written by: Rachel Shey — city@theaggie.org




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