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Two Supervisors Say Public Would 'Do Well' If Either D.A. Candidate Elected

Monday, April 21st, 2014
Issue 17, Volume 18.
Paul J. Young
Special to the Valley News

RIVERSIDE - Residents of Riverside County will be well served by whoever prevails in the Riverside County district attorney's race, whose two candidates are both "impressive," supervisors who have endorsed both men told City News Service today.

"These are two people I like," county Supervisor Kevin Jeffries said. "They're both very honorable, professional and dedicated public servants."

Supervisor John Benoit expressed similar feelings, acknowledging that "co-endorsements" are not common in politics, but sometimes it can't be helped.

"I endorsed District Attorney Paul Zellerbach when he came to me a year ago," Benoit said. "Mr. (Mike) Hestrin came along later, and I had a chance to see him in the community. I could see he had a lot on the ball, a lot to offer. I have friends and neighbors who hold him in very high regard. So I decided to co-endorse."

Zellerbach, a former judge, is seeking a second term as the county's top prosecutor. Hestrin, a 15-year deputy district attorney who until 2012 handled capital homicide cases, initiated a grassroots campaign roughly a year ago with the goal of unseating his boss.

The challenger has assailed Zellerbach's leadership style, internal policy decisions and the general direction in which he's taken the office over the last 3 1/2 years, at a time when plea agreements have surged while state- imposed public safety realignment measures have saddled the county with a higher number of felons to squeeze into local jails.

Zellerbach has defended his record, underscoring that under his management, the D.A.'s office budget has been consistently balanced, the courts are functioning under less strain and inter-agency relations have improved.

"What competitive campaign doesn't get a Advertisement
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little testy?" Jeffries told CNS. "The candidates have to contrast themselves.

Politics is a contact sport, for better or worse. I haven't had to live in Paul's house of business. I don't know first-hand the challenges going on over there. But I still feel he's a capable D.A., and I'm glad to support him."

Jeffries noted that Zellerbach did not back him when he ran for supervisor in 2012, while Hestrin did, yet he still felt obligated to split his endorsement between the two men.

"To some degree, a dual endorsement does dilute the whole concept of an endorsement," Jeffries said. "But it's also a statement, at least in my case, of knowing both these candidates. I believe the public will win either way. You can do well with either man. So it's up to the individual voters to decide on the qualities of these two candidates and vote appropriately."

Benoit praised Zellerbach for "turning the D.A.'s office around," pointing specifically to the incumbent's success in helping clear a backlog of several hundred untried felony cases that had accumulated under his predecessor, briefly forcing the suspension of civil hearings at the Riverside Historic Courthouse.

"We had cases going back seven years," Benoit said. "I had friends on jury duty and others familiar with the justice system expressing frustration."

The supervisor said he believes either Zellerbach or Hestrin would "be successful" in keeping the judicial apparatus running smoothly.

"A co-endorsement is something you do when you're faced with tough choices," Benoit said. "It's a tough choice selecting just one of these two. Both are impressive. So Mr. and Mrs. Voter -- it's up to you."



Comment Profile ImageDisaster
Comment #1 | Tuesday, Apr 22, 2014 at 6:34 am
Hestrin is a Pacheco creation. "A good DA can convict a guilty person, but a great DA can convict an innocent one." Without plea agreements the county will prosecute everything and once again overwhelm the system. Justice has always been a problem in the DA's office and balancing that act is always a challenge. If Hestrin is elected, you can count on a lot more summons for jury service as the cost in time and money escalate while jail space will be non existent and justice will not be served. We can't afford Mike "Little Pacheco" Hestrin.
Comment Profile ImagePolitical Expert
Comment #2 | Tuesday, Apr 22, 2014 at 9:35 am
By not endorsing Zellerbach exclusively, Benoit (who is facing a tough re-election challenge himself) and Jeffries are, for all practical purposes, endorsing Hestrin. Either Zellerbach deserves to be the DA more than Hestrin, or he doesn't. Benoit and Jeffries statements that either person would do an equally good job as DA, are a slap in the face to the incumbent and a friendly slap on the back to the challenger. Anyone who is remotely familiar with politics, and the conduct of politicians, knows this to be the case.

Not a good day for Zellerbach.
Comment Profile ImageCop Out
Comment #3 | Tuesday, Apr 22, 2014 at 2:46 pm
Ask Benoit and Jeffries, if the election was held today who would you vote for, Hestrin or Zellerbach? That is the person they should endorse. And since they have gone public with their wimpy dual endorsement cop out, they should be willing to publicly state who they would vote for. Their failure to answer this question is a reflection on their character. And is something every voter should remember when Benoit or Jefferies asks for their vote.

So who would you vote for Mr. Benoit and Mr. Jeffries, Hestrin or Zellerbach? Remember, in America you can't vote for both. So you shouldn't endorse both, unless you want to be seen as a wishy washy, do whatever I have to do to get elected, politician.

Article Comments are contributed by our readers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Valley News staff. The name listed as the author for comments cannot be verified; Comment authors are not guaranteed to be who they claim they are.


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