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Salazar: Public safety fuels re-election bid

Lodi News-Sentinel - 5/10/2022

May 10—San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar said she is seeking re-election this year for one simple reason: public safety.

"It's been an honor as our county's first woman elected district attorney to have found new and innovative ways to reduce crime and criminality," she said.

Those approaches, Salazar said, include creating a Veterans Court to divert military veterans suffering from ailments like PTSD into mental health programs; the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, a partnership with Stockton Police to assist the homeless into permanent rehabilitation and permanent housing; and the county's first Family Justice Center, which services more than 20,000 victims and their families a year.

"I believe my victims' centered approach is working," she said. "Countering national trends, crime is down in San Joaquin County for three years in a row, which includes property crimes, violent assaults, and murders. I am proud to stand with victims."

Salazar first ran for district attorney in 2014, defeating Gary Hickey with 79% of the vote. She ran unopposed in 2018.

A Republican, Salazar graduated from St. Mary's High School in Stockton in 1983, and earned her bachelor's in political science from St. Mary's College in Moraga in 1987. She received her doctorate's degree from the Patino School of Law in Sacramento in 1996.

During her career both before and after election to office, Salazar has helped create the Youth Leadership Academy, now in its 22nd year providing youth a five-week summer opportunity to understand criminal justice and to empower them to build better lives.

She is also a co-founder of a Home for Our Children, a partnership with Child Abuse Prevention Council which has placed over 100 homeless children into services and housing, and is involved with the Animal Protection League, which has helped find homes for more than 2,000 dogs, and 400 cats, and even one goat.

If re-elected this year, Salazar said accountability will continue to be a cornerstone of her office.

"I will continue to hold those who cause harm accountable for their actions while finding more effective and efficient ways to address low-level crime," she said. "One of my victim's prevention programs has reduced repeat offenders by 50%. My goal is to expand victims' service 100% and to reduce recidivism another 50%."

Salazar said the most challenging criminal justice issue facing San Joaquin County is keeping up with legislators at the State Capitol, who constantly change laws, as well as presenting the role of a district attorney in a better way to the San Joaquin County public.

She said people often believe that a DA has complete control over all aspects of the criminal justice system, however it does not.

"As DA, I'm at the end of the criminal justice process," she said. "A crime has occurred, harm has resulted, and the criminal justice system has started. Each component of criminal justice system has its role. The court sets bail, sentencing, scheduling hearing and trials. The sheriff has jurisdiction over the jail and who is housed and released. Law enforcement responds to calls, investigates them, and makes arrests. My office prosecutes crimes. We present evidence to the jury and the court. The jury determines if the accused is guilty or not guilty."

Salazar said she is working with legislators to broaden mental health in regard to holding an individual for a certain amount of time. She noted her office has already begun combating the Fentanyl crisis in the county through the "Pills Can Kill" information and education program.

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