HBeacon - The race for Humboldt County District Attorney Candidates answer last-minute questions

The race for Humboldt County District Attorney Candidates answer last-minute questions
Franklin Stover, Humboldt Beacon

On Tuesday, June 8, Humboldt County voters have three choices for Humboldt County District Attorney: Paul Gallegos, Paul Hagen, and Allison Jackson.

Briefly, Gallegos is currently Humboldt County District Attorney. He earned a BS in Economics from the University of Southern California. Later, he attended LaVerne College of Law and was admitted to the California Bar Association. Gallegos opened a law office in Eureka under the name, Gallegos and Gallegos. He ran for Humboldt County District Attorney in 2002, unseating 20-year incumbent, Terry Farmer. In 2006, he was re-elected. Gallegos is now nearing the end of his second term.

Briefly, on candidate Paul Hagen, he served as a Deputy District Attorney in Humboldt, Del Norte, Mendocino, and Lake counties for more than 11-years. During that time, Hagen led a multi-agency task force investigating and prosecuting public health and safety violations and crimes against the environment. Hagen has organized and presented a series of State Bar conferences on environmental and land use law and volunteers his time as a mentor for the Humboldt Teen Court. Hagen was County of Mendocino Deputy District Attorney from 1995 to 1999.

Briefly, on candidate Allison Jackson, she has been with the Harland Law Firm in Eureka since 2004 and has a background in civil litigation representing clients in diverse State and Federal civil matters. From 1994 to 2004, Jackson was Deputy District Attorney for Humboldt County and Chairperson of the Humboldt County Sexual Assault Response Team from 1999 to 2004. In addition, she has been a participant member of the Humboldt County Child Death Review Team. She is an experienced Senior Trial Prosecutor in serious felony cases from arraignment, bail hearing and preliminary hearing through trial and sentencing.

Like the race for county Sheriff, the Humboldt Beacon posed two last minute questions to candidates seeking office in the June 8 election. The questions were of a general nature and asked:

What special skill or attribute will you bring to the office you are seeking? and, If elected, what would be your first priority on day one?

Beginning with Paul Gallegos' response, the incumbent D.A. said,

”I remain steadfastly committed to American values. When I took office 7-years ago I promised to do what's right, not just what's popular. A District Attorney must remain independent in order to serve justice for all. That is just the way I was brought up and the way I have always lived life. In office as District Attorney, I hold my staff to the same standard, retaining and hiring only those attorneys and investigators who could make the same pledge. I am proud to report that we now have an award-winning staff who work well together as a team unified by the values we hold dear. We owe our success to the fact that we seek justice and truth, not vengeance and victory. Knowing the truth sets one free to do the best work possible for the people who rely on us to do just that.”

Gallegos' chief priorities for day-one are as follows: “Public Safety. That has been the priority from day-one and will continue to be my priority throughout my term. For instance, by prioritizing cases we take to trial, we concentrate our efforts on taking the most violent and dangerous criminals out of society. It works: The conviction rate is high, crime is down and prison commitments are up. We not only prosecute crime. We prevent crime. Recently our investigators and attorneys prevented a convicted rapist from murdering a girl who was to testify against him. We have also sent child abusers to prison for hundreds of years each. They will no longer threaten public safety. Our Victim/Witness Division recently won federal recognition for their compassionate service to victims and witnesses of crime, ensuring the safety of people in their homes and on the streets.”

Moving over to candidate Paul Hagen, the Eureka attorney said that his set of skills and attributes will come in to play because he feels deeply about people.

”I am a person who believes deeply that life is about other people. All my decisions and actions are governed by my overarching belief that we are here in this brief life to help other people. In America, the people are the government, a revolutionary idea underpinning our Constitution. Public service, to me, is the highest form of helping as many people as possible.

The special skill or attribute I will bring to the District Attorney's Office lies in two, complementary, parts. First, my dedication to do all that is within my power to make life better for everyone in the society in which I live. In the District Attorney's Office, this means the people of Humboldt County. Second, my ability to inspire and lead people to perform to standards of excellence. These things then come together in service to the people, which here, is delivering justice.”

Hagen's main concern for day-one on the job was expressed this way: “The job of the District Attorney is to ensure that justice is delivered in a fair, even-handed and common sense manner. The day-to-day work of the DA is to run the office to accomplish this end. After all, it is the people who work in the office that deliver results in the courts.

My first priority on day-one would be to introduce myself to the DA office staff. A new administration brings new policies, priorities and standards. Of these, standards of excellence are paramount. Staff members need reassurance that they will be respected, and that the office will be a desirable place to work. They must know what is expected of them, and that they will be supported in all they do so long as they strive for and consistently achieve high levels of community service. This immutable priority will be with them until the day I leave office."

Finally moving to Allison Jackson, the veteran attorney summed up her skills and experience this way: “I have a 20 year history of fighting for my community, protecting the most vulnerable and standing up for the victims of crime. I've handled thousands of serious and violent felonies throughout the course of my career and demonstrated excellence in all areas of criminal law. I have keen administrative skills, and real experience in actually running a law office. I have trained young lawyers and police officers, teaching classes for the State. I was instrumental in building the Child Abuse Services Team Program, was past chairperson of the SART Board, and have trained other counties in establishing their own child abuse teams. I have served as an expert witness on the topic of prosecutorial ethics, and I am the only candidate who can effectively rebuild our District Attorney's Office, which is why I need your vote on June 8.”

Jackson explained that her main priorities for her first day on the job include, “bringing staff together, assess high priority cases to vertically assign them to individual deputies according to their strengths; begin evaluation to make sure cases are properly charged, and built so that they can successfully be brought to trial, thereby shutting down the revolving door of plea bargains, which have become commonplace with the incumbent; reach out to reestablish communication with law enforcement agencies to let them know that when they bust them, we won't let them go.”

Jackson added, “Scrap any idea that the DA's Office will be setting up its own SWAT Team, start rebuilding the Victim Witness Program, and reestablish Special Victims programs, such as Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Child Abuse, Elder/Dependent Adult crimes. Victims and witnesses will have full access to the DA's Office regarding their cases - you'll no longer get a phone tree and a full mailbox - your questions will be answered in a timely manner.”

submitted photos
1. Candidate Paul Gallegos.
2. Candidate Paul Hagen.
3. Candidate Allison Jackson.