Q&A with D.A. candidate
Q. It's been reported that your opponent has raised
more than a half-million dollars on this campaign and his father
has contributed most of that amount. What is your reaction to
A. My opponent and his father's effort to buy this election is
very troubling to me and I believe it will be very troubling
to the electorate. As of the last campaign finance report my
opponent's father had given him nearly $450,000. Less than 1
percent of his campaign contributions come from people who work
and live in Ventura County. In just about any other race (for
the state legislature, for congress, for governor, for president)
gifts of this magnitude would be illegal. My opponent's father,
Sam Bamieh, who has been fined twice by the Fair Political Practices
Commission for laundering campaign contributions, has even stated,
"I can give my son $10 million to win this race." And,
my opponent has stated he'll spend "whatever it takes."
While it's appropriate for parents to help their children get
an education and perhaps even help them purchase their first
home, buying your child a job is an altogether different proposition
and I believe it is simply wrong.
Q. What is the salary for a rookie D.A. and for a senior deputy
A. There is a salary range for both of these positions. On average
a new prosecutor without prior legal experience receives a salary
of approximately $46,000 and a senior deputy DA receives a salary
of approximately $100,000.
Q. How much has been raised for you campaign to date?
A. As of Feb. 8 we had raised approximately $280,000. This includes
a $25,000 loan I made to my campaign. In contrast to my opponent,
well over 95% of the funds I have raised come from people who
live and work in this county. I have received over 700 individual
contributions from people who know me and trust me to protect
their safety. The vast majority of my contributions are small
donations ranging from $25 to $100.
Q. Why would you spend that kind of money campaigning for
a job that pays less than that yearly?
A. Great question! This level of campaign expenditures would
be unnecessary but for the fact that I am running against someone
who will spend well over a $1 million on his campaign. Indeed,
I fully expect to be outspent by a factor of 5-to-1. I did not
become a prosecutor to make a lot of money. I chose this profession
because it is personally satisfying to help crime victims and
protect a community I care deeply about.
I am running for District Attorney because, first and foremost,
I want to serve this community and make it even safer. I believe
I am the most qualified candidate. I have tried cases involving
everything from Drunk Driving to Capital Murder. I have been
a leader in the office for nearly 15 years and have supervised
people and programs in every single division in the office.
I currently serve as Chief Assistant District Attorney and in
that capacity am second in command to Mike Bradbury and oversee
a budget of $47 million and a staff of 600. I also served three
years as Executive Director of the California District Attorney's
Association in Sacramento where I wrote and successfully advanced
legislation that increased the punishment for child killings,
aggravated child molest and rape and enhanced California's death
penalty law. Most importantly, I am committed to this community
and making a difference for every single resident of Ventura
Q. It's been said that Michael Bradbury is one of the toughest
DA's in the state, if not the country. Which of his policies
would you change and why?
A. I also have a reputation in law enforcement circles and among
my colleagues and peers as being a very tough prosecutor. I
helped develop and enforce many of the tough on crime policies
which distinguish the Ventura County District Attorney's Office
from many other prosecutor offices that engage in plea bargaining.
I believe criminals must be held fully accountable for their
criminal wrongdoing and am unwilling to sacrifice public safety
for the expediency of courtroom deal making. At the same time,
I believe we also have a responsibility to prevent crime before
it starts. Nowhere is this responsibility more important than
with the youth of Ventura County. Youth crime prevention programs
that fight school truancy, mentor at risk children and deter
kid's from becoming involved with gangs and drugs will be a big
priority in my administration. I also want to work more closely
with community groups and neighborhood councils to ensure that
we are listening and addressing those crime problems that matter
most to the community.
Q. Which individuals or agencies have endorsed you?
A. Sheriff Brooks, District Attorney Bradbury and every police
chief in Ventura County along with Fire Chief Roper are supporting
my candidacy for District Attorney. I have also been endorsed
by the deputy sheriffs, prosecutors and firefighters associations
along with the Ventura, Oxnard, Santa Paula and Port Hueneme
police officer associations. I have also been endorsed by Congressman
Elton Gallegly, Assemblymembers Hannah Beth Jackson, Tony Strickland
and Keith Richman, Superintnedent of Schools Dr. Charles Weis,
Supervisors Kathy Long, Judy Mikels, John Flynn and Frank Schillo,
Ojai Mayor Steve Olson and the mayors of most cities in Ventura
County and countless other elected officials.
Q. What would you consider to be your most successful prosecution?
A. The People vs Gregory Scott Smith case where the defendant
abducted, bound and gagged, sexually assaulted and murdered an
eight year old boy. After a five month trial the defendant was
sentence to death for his crime.
Q. The position of DA has become almost solely administrative.
Mr Bradbury, although he personally expressed interest in prosecuting
high-profile cases, including Michael Raymond Johnson, who murdered
a sheriff's deputy, ultimately gave that case to Matt Hardy and
Maeve Fox. Do you see yourself prosecuting any cases?
A. The District Attorney's first responsibility is to lead and
manage a large prosecutors office and that duty will no doubt
consume most of my time. However, my first love as a prosecutor
is trial work and I fully plan to try cases on a regular basis.
Q. How are you going to handle the projected budget cuts in
A. I am going to handle those cuts by reducing the size of management
and other costs in areas that will not impact the safety of this
community. I also plan to continue aggressively seeking other
sources of funding. Our budget is currently 40% revenue offset
and we must always be innovative in seeking other funding sources
to protect this community. For example, I established a grant
writing program that in its first year of operation obtained
over $2 million in additional funds from the state and federal
Q. Because of the cuts, do you anticipate more plea bargaining?
A. Absolutely not!
Q. Should the state act on death penalty convictions within
a mandate period of time, say 3-5 years after sentencing?
A. Yes the courts need to act more quickly and responsibly to
expedite the processing of death penalty cases. While cases
of defendants sentenced to the ultimate punishment should be
carefully scrutinized to ensure the punishment is correct and
just, death penalty appeals need to be addressed more promptly,
here in California, we have a death penalty law on the books
that has been carried out less than ten times in the 25 years
that have passed since its reinstatement. Meanwhile over 600
inmates sit on death row, some for decades, while their appeals
drag on endlessly in the courts with little hope for finality
for the victims family and loved ones.
Q. Please make any statement that you would like to offer
to the people of the Ojai Valley:
A. I want to protect you, your children, your businesses and
your property by being the toughest, most principled and effective
District Attorney this county has ever known. As District Attorney,
I will run a tough crime fighting office that will always be
trusted to do what is right and will never permit political expedience
to interfere with your safety and or the cause of justice. I
ask for and would be honored to receive your support.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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County Senior Deputy District Attorney Greg Totten, running for
the position to be vacated by Michael Bradbury.