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Friday, February 22 , 2019, 2:47 am | Fair 42º


Joyce Dudley to Challenge Christie Stanley for DA

The senior deputy district attorney, praised by supporters for her passion and conviction record, says she'll continue to focus on violent crimes

In front of a sizable crowd gathered outside the Santa Barbara Courthouse, Senior Deputy District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced Tuesday that she’s running in next year’s race for district attorney.

Dudley will square off against her boss, District Attorney Christie Stanley, who has announced she will seek re-election. Stanley, currently battling lung cancer, was elected in 2006.

Many Santa Barbara notables showed up to support Dudley’s run, including Mayor Marty Blum, Supervisors Salud Carbajal and Doreen Farr, and Santa Barbara City Council members Iya Falcone and Roger Horton.

Debby Davison, a news anchor for 30 years, introduced Dudley, comparing her to a “mother bear protecting her cubs” because of how she approaches the victims she represents. Dudley has worked as a prosecutor for the District Attorney’s Office for nearly 20 years, tackling cases of murder, arson and sexual assault.

“Her victims are always her first priority,” Davison said.

Carbajal also touted Dudley’s achievements, including her conviction record, which hovers around 98 percent in jury trials.

“She raised four children while attending law school,” he said, adding that Dudley has master’s degrees in education and administration.

“She also understands that our system has challenges because of a high recidivism rate,” he said, and that Dudley’s contacts with the law-enforcement community would be an asset as she tackles ways to stop that recidivism.

“Her job never has been and never will be about politics,” Carbajal said. “It will be about protecting the public’s trust, protecting our public safety.”

Former Santa Barbara City Fire Chief and Fire Marshal Warner McGrew also was supportive.

Dudley worked with McGrew’s arson investigation team to convict a person charged with arson homicide after setting a man on fire.

Also at Tuesday’s event was Sheila Troup, who said she met Dudley after her special-needs daughter was raped and impregnated by her caretaker’s supervisor, forcing the family into a “devastating and life-altering” situation, she said.

While working on her daughter’s case, Troup said Dudley’s passion was evident from the start.

“Our family feels very fortunate that this passionate woman has chosen to devote her professional life to justice for victims,” she said.

As Dudley walked to the microphone, she and Troup exchanged an emotional embrace.

Dudley said she loves her job, and would be honored to continue serving as senior deputy district attorney, a title she has held for 10 years.

“Yet, over the past few years, I, along with many others, both from within our office and throughout Santa Barbara County, have felt our office’s response to some critical circumstances was too slow or too passive,” she said.

People started asking Dudley about running for district attorney and she eventually agreed to run, “not out of disrespect for the person currently holding that position, but because of the enormous respect I have for the office of the district attorney.”

Dudley said if she’s elected, she’ll continue to focus on violent crimes.

She’d like to create an arson unit with an attorney and an investigator who would receive fire-science training to investigate suspicious circumstances quickly. Mindful of budget constraints, Dudley said drawing on the deep well of talent at the DA’s office could present creative solutions.

When asked about her approach to gangs and gang injunctions, Dudley said not pushing the problem somewhere else is key, because the gang problem is countywide.

Education is a first step, but many times, incarceration is absolutely necessary, she said. “Incarceration says that this county will not accept children killing children,” she said, adding that after jail time, re-entry programs are key.

Dudley also said she would make herself available to the media so the public would have “accurate and timely information.”

“I will do this because I am absolutely committed to making this office more transparent and hence more accountable ... this type of thoughtful and honest communication will support the integrity of our criminal justice process and make our county safer,” she said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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