WatchSonoma Watch

Ravitch kicks off re-election bid



Three years after voters chose her to be Sonoma County district attorney, Jill Ravitch launched her re-election campaign Thursday night, hosting a fundraiser attended by as many as 250 supporters that included elected officials and community leaders.

Ravitch, who defeated two-term incumbent Stephan Passalacqua in June 2010, got into campaign mode at the Kendall-Jackson Wine Center in Santa Rosa,

Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch talks to supporters during a kick-off fundraiser for her re-election campaign at the Kendall Jackson Wine Center in Santa Rosa on Thursday, June 13, 2013. (JOHN BURGESS/ PD)

Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch talks to supporters during a kick-off fundraiser for her re-election campaign at the Kendall Jackson Wine Center in Santa Rosa on Thursday, June 13, 2013. (JOHN BURGESS/ PD)

asking for four more years to expand her key initiatives to fight elder abuse, violence against women and mortgage fraud.

The 54-year-old Sebastopol resident said she’s had a successful first term despite hurdles such as budget cuts and a statewide prison system overhaul that shifted responsibilities to counties. She pointed to endorsements by the five-member county Board of Supervisors, Sheriff Steve Freitas and various business and neighborhood interests as a sign of her widespread approval.

“I am looking forward to celebrating what has been an amazingly fast three years and talking about what lies ahead,” Ravitch said before her campaign kickoff.

Freitas, who also is up for re-election, said he’s had good communication and a “respectful relationship” with his law enforcement partner the past three years.

“We respect and honor each other’s independence,” Freitas said. “What I really like about Jill is she cares about victims of crimes and their rights. I really respect that about her.”

So far, no candidate has emerged to challenge Ravitch. The election is June 3.

Dave McCuan, Sonoma State political science professor, said it seems unlikely that a serious challenger will surface given her community exposure and lack of any major public controversy. Plus, it will be difficult to find someone willing to risk the money — the last race cost each candidate more than $200,000.

Ravitch, who just started fundraising, has about $25,000 in the bank, she said.

“This is going to be a status quo election,” McCuan said.

But rumors are swirling that an opponent from within the DA’s office will run. A senior deputy prosecutor who asked to remain anonymous said it was a certainty.

Also, Ravitch has not yet received a key endorsement from rank-and-file sheriff’s deputies and she appears to have lost some support from criminal defense attorneys. Criticisms include a failure to establish policies on marijuana prosecution, inconsistent charging and a lack of access to discuss cases.

“I’m aware there are issues in the office,” said Santa Rosa defense attorney Chris Andrian, who supported Ravitch in 2010.

Ravitch said she can’t satisfy everyone.

“You hear rumblings, but the support is overwhelming,” she said.

Ravitch has not released conviction rate statistics since taking office, saying the available records are inaccurate. Supervisors recently approved the purchase of a new case management system that could provide reliable data in the future, she said.

“One thing I learned is that a conviction rate doesn’t necessarily illustrate what’s happening in the District Attorney’s Office,” said Ravitch, who made her predecessor’s conviction rate a campaign issue in 2010.

Ravitch said she’s made strides in other areas. She’s maintained staffing levels despite a 13 percent budget cut, keeping positions filled by getting grants for programs such as drunken-driving and elder-abuse prosecution.

See photos from the event here

She’s also secured funding for two administrative positions at the Family Justice Center. She said she’s lived up to a campaign promise to put managers to work in the courtroom and has given deputies more discretion in deciding how to charge and resolve cases.

Ravitch disbanded the homicide trial team in favor of assigning major cases to more attorneys, created a dedicated elder-protection team and re-jiggered her juvenile court staff.

She said she hopes to start a mortgage-fraud task force and get a handle on marijuana prosecution.

“I believe I’m doing the job the voters asked me to do, and I will continue to do it for some time to come,” she said.

Supervisor Mike McGuire said Ravitch is collaborative, accessible and responsive, “managing the office and driving results, even in difficult budget times.”

“In my opinion, she puts the safety of Sonoma County first,” McGuire said.

You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or paul.payne@pressdemocrat.com.


12 Responses to “Ravitch kicks off re-election bid”

  1. SantaRosaCitizen says:

    Assigning the most experienced attorneys to handle the misdemeanor cases is one example.

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  2. Snarky says:

    Hey Q213:

    When you said, “Ravitch has dismantled the inner workings within the office which has caused mishandling of significant cases”……

    What were you referring to.

    I’ve asked a few folks and nobody knows what you’re talking about.

    And if you don’t have anything to get specific, your post was a lie ;)

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  3. Ruben says:

    She is an ordinary politican. Political paybacks, political consultants and campaign contributors got jobs without eve applying for one, or Going through the interview process like every other county employee. Pension spiking promotions given as a favor to her supporters without filling out an application. 3 years of this is enough. Another 4 would be unconscionable. No on Ravitch.

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  4. SantaRosaCitizen says:

    Also, at the conviction rate for felonies her first year in office.

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  5. SantaRosaCitizen says:

    The office has some very good statistics, but they aren’t very favorable to the incumbent. The PD should be looking at number of cases filed, and number of cases rejected, for her first year in office.

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  6. Steveguy says:

    I saw the photos,it looked like party time on the campaign contribution dime. Politicians living large. This is their new normal, glad-handing fancy style for free.

    Who benefits from the largess ?

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  7. charles reilly says:

    Steve Passalaqua was a very MODERATE D.A. – Unfortunately for him, he was running in county full of redneck ranchers and high-school-level real estate agents. Locking everybody up and throwing away the key is not the answer to society’s problems …

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  8. Grapevines says:

    Ravich fits right in with the judges we have sitting on the bench here in Sonoma County.

    They all believe in “Catch and Release”

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  9. Q213 says:

    We need a new candidate. Ravitch has not delivered and is actually a detriment to the office. Good experienced attorneys have left and more to follow if she gets re-elected.

    Ravitch has dismantled the inner workings within the office which has caused mishandling of significant cases. She does not hold her “peeps” accountable for their incompetence and it reflects in the poor stats which she now claims are not reliable. Ravitch rode the statistical pony into victory lane during first campaign but they are now conveniently not reliable, really? Of course her explanation was phenomenal, “Oops.” Where is the transparency you promised?

    Get a clue Ravitch. Take a look at the people who openly supported you the first time and who are not as quick to support you this time around. I agree “You can’t make everybody happy” but you should be saying “I can’t make anyone happy. “

    Stop being self serving and help the people you were elected to serve.

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  10. Snarky says:

    Passalacqua was ousted and rightfully so.

    Recall his immaturity in the final days of his reign at the DA’s Office when he not only began hiring his own buddies before Jill could hire… as he intentionally kept her in the dark by refusing to allow her to attend meetings just prior to taking the job?

    Passalacqua was part of the “good old boy network” in Sonoma County…. which included his father and grandfather. He was angry that he had to actually compete with an “outsider”…. like the little child he was and is.

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  11. Graeme Wellington says:

    What ever happened to Stephan Passalacqua? Anyone paying his for speeches or is he handling some significant cases anywhere for anyone? Are there any Passalacqua cronies still at the DA’s office that are swirling the rumors?

    Competence and efficiency are boring. But that’s what you want in your DA. As long as Ravich maintains her standards, she can get re-elected. As soon as she turns into an ordinary politician, then you can start dishing.

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