By Robert J. Hansen
Woodland, CA – Current and former residents of Yolo County have voiced their reactions to Tuesday’s primary election to the Vanguard throughout this week.
Francesca Wright, a Davis resident and supporter of Cynthia Rodriguez, thinks a significant number of the voting population doesn’t understand that the current criminalization system is inept and ineffective.
“Basing good governance based on data for effectiveness is missing from the criminal justice system, it’s missing in Yolo County and it’s missing from the district attorney’s office,” Wright said.
She said it’s discouraging that voters didn’t overwhelmingly see that and elect a democratic leader like Rodriguez.
“I just think we underestimated the message of fear rather than effectiveness. It seems to be what has won the day,” Wright said.
She said the same type of campaigning was successful in recalling San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin.
“The narrative that killed Chesa Boudin was constructed, carefully marketed, and repeated,” Wright said.
Peggy Bernardy, another Yolo County resident, said who the DA is matters.
“They can create a department that emphasizes regressive law and order practices that often harm families and people of color and keep the arrest-to-prison pipeline full, or they can choose to balance public safety with cost-saving equitable justice,” Bernardy said on Facebook.
Bernardy said the Indivisible Yolo endorsement team took a long hard look at both candidates and decided that they did not want Jeff Reisig to continue to be Yolo’s District Attorney for many reasons.
Nina Olague moved out of Yolo County in 2020 and wasn’t surprised by the outcome of the election.
What Olague liked most about Rodriguez was that she was realistic and was focusing on mental health.
“I don’t think the people of Yolo County realize what a gem they had,” Olague said. “I mean she could have brought so many positive things and I think you would have seen people come together.”
Olague, the wife of James Olague, thinks the U.S. prison system is disgusting and California is leading the pack.
James Olague was one of two men convicted in the 2002 murders of Eric Folsom and Robert Stepper. James was allegedly the lookout man and is serving life without the possibility of parole.
“I don’t see any change happening in Yolo County,” Olague said.
She said a lot of Yolo County still believes in the tough-on-crime era.
“They don’t understand and until it happens to them, they won’t,” Olague said.
Olague would like to see the Yolo DA utilize its criminal integrity unit more and be correcting wrongful convictions.
“Let’s do it (make the criminal integrity unit) not biased,” Olague said. “Let’s get an outside organization to come in and look at some of these old cases. There’s funding there, we know Reisig can get the funding.”
Someone with the district attorney’s office declined to comment about the outcome of the election.
According to Scott Steward with Indivisible Yolo, 20,000 votes have yet to be counted in the county as of June 10.
“The County Registrar does not indicate the number of uncounted ballots,” Steward said. “The results simply state ‘complete.’ In the future, I’ll look to confirm that completely does not mean 100 percent counted. It appears that 41 percent of eligible voters cast ballots, not too shabby.”
The County Election Office could not be reached for comment.
Wright says the Yolo Election website is not clear on the results.
“It appeared that all precincts had reported but half the ballots hadn’t been counted,” Wright said.
Yolo County had a voter turnout of 23.4 percent which is more than the state turnout which is 21.4 percent according to the California Secretary of State.
Nonetheless, the 21.4 turnout is lower than 2014’s turnout of 25.17 percent, the lowest between 2006 and 2022.
“It was a very long ballot and it required a lot of research for many positions,” Wright said.