MARTINEZ — Four years after facing challenge from Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton from her political right, she appears to have another viable opponent running against a recent wave of progressive justice reformist DAs in California.
Mary Knox, a longtime prosecutor and former senior deputy district attorney—until she was demoted by Becton—was a regular presence at farmers’ markets, rallies, and fundraising efforts, sometimes including county sheriff. Bonding with David Livingston is hitting the campaign trail hard. Several law enforcement officials supported Knox’s candidacy. While other DA candidates in the Bay Area are vying for the most progressive candidate in their respective races, Knox is banking that outrage over high-profile crimes — like the television retail theft in Walnut Creek — will lend voter support to her promises locally. To harsh punishments and “hand-to-hand work” with the police.
Becton—appointed in 2017 following a campaign fund embezzlement scandal in which the former county DA resigned and pleaded no contest to felony—his record of policies aimed at making the justice system fair to all But gone. She has given priority to lower-level crimes, such as drug possession, calling for the closure of Juvenile Hall, calling on the Vera Institute, a progressive research group, to compulsorily audit her agency’s charging decisions for racial disparities. allowed, and implemented a pilot program designed to reduce “excessive punishment.”
Becton was a judge for 22 years, following a career as a private attorney, before becoming the county’s first black woman to hold the top prosecutor’s seat. She grew up in Richmond, taught herself law school while pregnant with her first child, and served as a presiding judge at Contra Costa.
He also aligned with fellow Progressive DAs Chesa Boudin, Jorge Gascon and Tori Verber Salazar to form the “Prosecutor’s Coalition”, but unlike his counterparts in Los Angeles and San Francisco, Becton ended the use of gang escalation and others. prevented from doing. Charges that add jail time to the defendant’s sentence.
Nevertheless, Knox has attempted to portray Becton as soft on crime and catering to criminals as she embarks on her own 37-year career as a gang prosecutor with a reputation among defense attorneys. , which would pursue relatively lengthy prison terms in plea negotiations.
Serving as the backdrop for the DA race is the recent prosecution of former Contra Costa Sheriff’s Deputy Andrew Hall, the first law enforcement officer to be prosecuted for an on-duty shooting in county history. Becton filed felony charges against Hall two and a half years after he shot and killed Lodemar Arboleda during a 2018 slow-motion chase in Danville, and a month after Hall shot and killed a second man in the line of duty. At trial, the jurors could not reach a verdict of murder, but convicted the Hall of Assault, and were sentenced to six years in prison.
Knox was one of four county prosecutors who signed a letter detailing how Becton handled Hall’s investigation—including delays—but refrained from saying whether Hall should have been charged until She said she was “justified in using lethal force” during an editorial board interview.
But there’s more to the race between Becton and Knox than just policy; Knox is also fighting her in federal court as she campaigns against Becton. In 2020, Knox and three other women in office sued Becton, alleging she favored inexperienced men for promotions. Knox also appealed Becton’s decision to demote him and filed a complaint with the county’s Board of Merit, which sided with Knox last year and doubted Becton’s sworn testimony that Knox was demoted because she was a co-workers. For the “Hand of Fear” was brought.
Knox’s complaint of political vendetta against Becton pointed out that she demoted her rival Paul Graves in the June 2018 election, which also ran against Becton’s political justice reform record. In the three-candidate race, Graves received 42 percent of the vote, while Becton received nearly 1,000 votes by a 50 percentage point, enough to avoid a head-to-head with Graves in November.
Knox has a significant fundraising benefit of over $100,000, as well as support from each county police association. Meanwhile, Becton has the support of California’s all-powerful Democratic Party, as well as abundant state and local elected officials.