DA candidates square off in GOP-sponsored debate

The Lassen County Republican Party hosted a District Attorney Candidate Debate Wednesday, Oct 17 at the Monticola Club. The local GOP promised “a non-partisan debate in a respectful setting,” and they delivered the event as promised to a nearly full house.

Lassen Community College professor Hasib Azhand, the announced moderator for the debate, was unable to attend due to a family emergency, but GOP chairman Joseph Turner ably assumed the moderator role and even used the questions for the candidates that Azhand had prepared.

Attendees also had an opportunity to submit questions of their own for the candidates.

In his closing statement, David Evans said this is a time when the district attorney’s office needs strong, experienced leadership because the state is pushing us to “treat criminals as victims” and “people who need to have services and treated with kid gloves rather than being treated as criminals.”

In addition to his experience and leadership skills, Evans said he has a strong relationship with local law enforcement.

“We need to push to make sure the office can do its job while facing budget cuts (and) while facing huge problems within California law,” Evans said.

He also said he has the faith of the other people who work in the district attorney’s office.

In her closing statement, Susan Rios said she has a strong work ethic that she showed during her time as a deputy district attorney and now as deputy county counsel.

“There is so much more to being a district attorney than just being a prosecutor,” Rios said. “It’s a department head. It’s a manager.”

She noted her education and experience in human resources — her employment as she worked her way through law school.

“I have integrity,” Rios said. “I have value … You keep hearing how much time my opponent has in the office — it’s quality, not quantity.”

Rios said she has “better results” as a prosecutor than Evans.

Asked about changes she would make, Rios said the office needs to be more conservative in terms of financial responsibility and that she would streamline costs. She said the department’s budget has increased about $400,000 over the past four years to $1.18 million per year.

“We’re hurting fiscally right now,” Rios said, “and I don’t think it’s responsible for any department head to continue to spend in haphazard ways, for example, buying a $35,000 car. I don’t think that’s a good use of funds.”

She also said she would be a district attorney who would have a presence in court and would streamline the charging process.

Evans responded that while there are some things that need to be changed, he didn’t see any major changes were necessary.

“One of the ways is to make sure every DA in the office is working in positions they’re not only capable of working in, but they get the support they need to do that position,” Evans said. “Making sure staff is not overwhelmed and helping staff and building up ways that staff can have time to recover from incredibly sensitive situations when they have a huge amount of cases they have to process. Be able to give them that break so they can do their jobs well and not get over-stressed.”