By Robert J. Hansen
Cynthia Rodriguez, candidate for Yolo County District Attorney, responded to Yolo District Attorney Jeff Reisig’s campaign contributions by law enforcement agencies, shared her opinion about a bill that would provide drug treatment programs through diversion, and explained why she donated campaign money yesterday.
Rodriguez said she donated the $3,500 her campaign received from Brett Pedroia to Empower Yolo out of an abundance of caution.
“I have hundreds of donors, I don’t know who they all are,” Rodriguez said. “Instead of addressing the issues, he (Reisig) continues to sling mud.”
“I looked at the donors, and one, I donated all the money that he gave to Empower Yolo,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said she doesn’t have any money from “that person” and she didn’t have any obligations to him even when she did.
“Taking money from all these groups that he’s supposed to be investigating doesn’t follow the rule of avoiding even the appearance of having a conflict of interest,” Rodriquez said. “That’s completely different than somebody who donates money to a campaign; there’s no working together with that,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said that she has not taken any money from law enforcement agencies, unions, or individual peace officers.
“Jeff is doing the opposite and bragging that he has all this law enforcement money which he does and he always has,” Rodriquez said.
At the forum held by the Taxpayers Association, Reisig stated he should be reelected because of having personal relationships with many law enforcement officers in the area. Rodriquez said that’s why he shouldn’t.
“We can’t afford to have conflicts of interest when it comes time to investigate police departments,” Rodriquez said.
She said all individuals have special interests but peace officers have a special relationship with DAs because of how often they go to court.
Since 2007, Reisig has received well over $100,000 from various law enforcement agencies and through his office has investigated 5 incidents where police killed somebody, 17 other deaths were not, according to the California Department of Justice.
“The people need to have confidence in the separation between a DA and the peace officers because they don’t work together,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriquez has had an extensive career as an attorney for the State of California.
She was appointed by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and served under former Governor Jerry Brown as the Deputy Director for the Department of General Health.
At the debate, Reisig claimed, “Ms. Rodriguez has never practiced law in this courthouse, she’s never been a DA, she’s been a public defender in another county.”
As an attorney with the Department of Corrections, she prosecuted disciplinary actions with the employment law unit.
“We prosecuted disciplinary actions against employees of the department,” Rodriquez said. “We would be contacted by the prisons and work with peace officers. It works like internal affairs or any prosecutor.”
Rodriquez has never been an elected district attorney but has managed offices with more employees than the Yolo County DA’s Office.
“I’ve done bigger jobs than this. I’ve had larger staffs, larger budgets, and larger responsibilities,” Rodriquez said.
On the Campaign Trail
“A year ago when I first started I had to tell people who I was now, I call people to ask if they would like more information, they say they have already heard about me,” Rodriquez said.
She said it has been very rewarding, and talking about criminal justice with the community is very meaningful to her.
“Getting the message out is difficult against a four-time incumbent,” Rodriquez said.
At the Taxpayer Association debate, there is a list of rules on the wall and the first rule alludes to not staying in office too long and giving others an opportunity.
“To have my opponent’s argument that ‘You should elect me again because I’ve changed,’ is the strangest thing in the world,” Rodriquez said. “There are other people who can do this job.”
With crime rising and homelessness increasing, Yolo County needs attention according to Rodriquez.
“If we look at the statistics … he is not giving a large percentage of people with drug and alcohol or mental health problems an opportunity at all. Then they enter a plea which goes on their record,” Rodriquez said.
Introduced by Assemblymember McCarty, AB 1928 or the Hope California Act, would expand a pilot program and establish a secured drug treatment facility where felony offenders could be sentenced and treated for substance use disorders rather than going to jail or prison.
The program would include San Joaquin, Contra Costa, and Santa Clara Counties in addition to Yolo, and “provide opioid settlement funds to backstop treatment costs in the event costs were not Medi-Cal reimbursable.”
Rodriquez thinks that treatment can be offered by the county without having to go through the courts first.
“Trying to determine that there is some way to treat drug addicts that is different from what best evidence has shown is a pointless pursuit,” Rodriquez said. “Why would we do it this way if we know it doesn’t work.
“What no or low-cost rehabilitation do we offer in Yolo County? What no or low-cost treatment do we offer in jail? Do we even have AA anymore in jail?” Rodriquez said.
She said Yolo County doesn’t offer these services in the first place and she doesn’t see how that system is going to work.
“We should be doing the things that we know work. The things that work are voluntary situations … yet we keep going back to the well with this program that has not worked before,” Rodriquez said.