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Friday, December 14 , 2018, 9:13 am | Fair 54º


Letter to the Editor: On DA Replacement, Supervisors Should Follow Lead of 1990 Board

The issue of who should be the interim district attorney when Christie Stanley retires is not a new situation in this county. In January 1990, a very similar set of circumstances occurred.

Then-Sheriff John Carpenter decided to retire almost a year before the end of his fifth term. There was speculation on who should fill out his remaining year in office.

There were three candidates running for the June primary election for the position of sheriff. One of the candidates was the undersheriff, who was appointed by Sheriff Carpenter and who served as second in command. One was a lieutenant (me), and the other was a sergeant.

The undersheriff rightfully believed that he should hold command in that he had been doing so for a few months. The question was, should he be appointed acting sheriff by the Board of Supervisors? The county counsel said, “The Board of Supervisors could fill the vacancy with anyone who qualifies for sheriff. As to what the board will do, and what the undersheriff and others would like them to do, is politics.”

And that is where we are today — politics.

As it happened, then Supervisors Ochoa, Rogers, Wallace, Owens and Miyoshi chose not to make a board appointment. They decided to allow the second in command to continue for the five months until the June election in the interest of continuity. As it turned out, the undersheriff didn’t win the election in June, the lieutenant did, and was appointed as acting sheriff by the board the following week.

In the current case, Joshua Lynn has been appointed by the current district attorney to run the office in her absence. He has been running the office for the past few months. He is a candidate for the position of district attorney in the June election. Joyce Dudley, who also works in the office, is also a candidate for the position.

There is some speculation that one or more of the current supervisors who have publicly endorsed Dudley for the position may want to appoint her as acting district attorney, obviously to help her win the June election.

I hope the Board of Supervisors follows the lead of the 1990 board. They had the wisdom to see that continuity of leadership is important and that it is the people — not the board — who should decide in June who the next district attorney will be.

Jim Thomas, retired Santa Barbara County sheriff

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