San Diego County Democratic Party Chair Jessica Hayes has issued an open letter to the local legal community, calling for applicants for the soon-to-be-open District Attorney position who commit not to run for that office as an incumbent in 2018 or endorse any candidate who does.
“Inside the all-Republican coterie of our county level elected officials, there is a long and sordid history of early retirements followed by the Board of Supervisors’ appointment of a hand-picked successor," reads the letter, posted here. "The appointee then has an enormous advantage running for office as the incumbent.
"The Board of Supervisors should appoint someone who pledges not to use that appointment as a platform to launch their race for the same seat. It violates the public’s trust – a particular concern when dealing with the highest law enforcement position in the county."
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis announced her early retirement on April 20, triggering an appointment by the County Board of Supervisors next month. The Board approved the timeline and process at its meeting this morning. Party Chair Hayes spoke as an individual to the County Supervisors during public comment, admonishing them not to repeat their past practice of appointing as an end run around an open democratic election process.
"It is not illegal," said Hayes, "but it is unethical."
Hayes welcomed the announcement yesterday by former Deputy District Attorney Adam Gordon, a registered Republican, that he will seek the Interim DA appointment and will not run for election in 2018. As she noted in her letter, the political party of the appointee does not matter -- but his or her commitment to apolitical service in the interim position does.