By Robert J. Hansen
Community activist and organizer Maria Grijalva helped organize a protest in April 2016 in response to the Yolo County District Attorney’s use of gang injunctions.
“The reason we have organized today is because we have four major issues that are going on here,” Grijalva said in 2016. “One is the gang injunction. It has been going on for many years and there are officially no gangs in West Sacramento.”
Grijalva says that is when her troubles with Yolo DA Jeff Reisig began.
In 2018, West Sacramento activist and community organizer Maria Grijalva, in an independent expenditure, donated over $40,000 to Dean Johansson, a progressive attorney who ran for Yolo County District Attorney against incumbent Jeff Reisig.
Reisig, who was unchallenged in the 2010 and 2014 elections, won in 2018 by a margin of 2023 votes out of 42,742 total, according to the Yolo County Elections Office.
“After we almost won his seat, David Marshall showed up at my house giving me a copy of a subpoena for a copy of my 2016 bank records,” Grijalva said. “They could have mailed it to me.”
She felt it was done to intimidate her.
Grijalva was also a candidate for the Yolo County Board of Education in the 2018 election and had previously run for City Council for the City of West Sacramento in 2016.
On October 9, about a month before the November election, the Yolo County District Attorney filed a criminal complaint against Grijalva alleging violations of state and local campaign finance violations related to contributions and expenditures she made in connection with the mayoral race in the City of West Sacramento that November.
The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) complaint was filed by West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon on Oct. 2, according to FPPC spokesman Jay Wierenga.
“I got an email around October 5 from the FPPC about a sworn complaint filed by Cabaldon. He said I was a fake candidate, that I did not file this or that and what I did file was wrong,” Grijalva said. “Cabaldon forwarded that complaint to the District Attorney because this is private information that only Cabaldon had.”
Grijalva hired political law attorney Emelyn Rodriguez to help ensure she did not violate any campaign finance laws.
“I paid an attorney to make sure that I did it right,” Grijalva said.
Grijalva would go on to lose the November 6 election for Yolo County Board of Education to incumbent Matt Taylor, who was endorsed by DA Reisig.
“Everyone was asking him why he was doing this, doesn’t the FPPC do this,” Grijalva said.
She says that the threat of possible jail time triggered memories of the one time she went to jail in her early twenties where she was sexually abused and assaulted and now suffers from PTSD.
“I’m just falling apart and crying and crying,” Grijalva said. “The thought of getting fingerprinted took me back to getting locked up. That’s why it was so traumatic to me.”
The Yolo County District Attorney’s Office later dropped criminal charges against Grijalva who appeared for an arraignment in Yolo County Superior Court, but Yolo County Supervising Deputy DA Ryan Couzens withdrew the charges before the hearing.
Grijalva’s attorney Stewart Katz told the court it was a “vindictive prosecution” and that it was “outrageous” and a “ruse” whose primary purpose was to punish someone (Grijalva) who supported someone (Johansson) challenging District Attorney Jeff Reisig in the June election for DA.
“This is showing people not to challenge the DA,” said Katz, who told about 30 or more supporters that “this legal fiction isn’t worthy of a good novel,” and again noted that the prosecution was nothing more than “payback” for his client and showing people that’s how they will be “treated if they work to oppose” the status quo.
Grijalva had a hard time controlling her emotions when she attended the Yolo County debate on March 10.
“I was so emotionally charged it was really difficult to control my emotions that night,” Grijalva said.
The District Attorney’s office did not respond to requests for comment.