I think about crime and the criminal justice system all the time. With “crime candy” being a tried-and-true way to rack up an audience, a reader can’t help but get hit by horrifying headlines every time she opens a news website. On one hand, Humboldt’s crime rate is no joke. On the other, the storytelling typically leans on the shock factor, rarely providing context or insight. We don’t get the big picture about what crime statistics actually mean in real life or what proven efforts to deter crime might look like if implemented here.
We also, in a newsfeed dominated by mugshots, never learn how the criminal justice system fails not only most of those caught in it, but the community at large. What kind of community we have depends largely on the priorities and ethics of law enforcement.
With this much at stake, I would have liked to see Humboldt County media provide more comprehensive coverage of the District Attorney race. Most people agree that business as usual hasn’t been working, but to be truly informed voters, we need to understand why. We need to be clear what changes, if any, the different candidates would make. Unfortunately I’m not seeing much of that. Outlets are dutifully printing candidate responses, press releases and letters to the editors, but journalistic analysis has lacked.
I haven’t been a reporter since a gazillion years ago and I’m not going to try to be one now. But I have lived in Humboldt for more than two decades. I love this place. And working in or around politics for 20 years has taught me a couple things:
- Effective policies require public confidence; public confidence requires government transparency.
- When someone’s campaign is defined by attacking their opponent, that’s usually because they don’t have ideas of their own to offer.
Therefore, my choice for D.A. is Adrian Kamada.
I first encountered Kamada at a California Fish & Game Commission meeting. Prior to my agenda item, the Commission announced that the 2017 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year was Humboldt County’s very own then-Deputy District Attorney Adrian Kamada. I remember texting some friends in excitement, something along the lines of, “How cool is this? Our very own Humboldt County law enforcement guy has been stopping all kinds of poaching and violations and is getting recognized for protecting wildlife! I had no idea.” So when I heard Kamada was running for D.A., my first thought was “Great! He’s obviously solid on environmental issues.” But I care about other things, too (of course!).
I want people and property to be safe from harm and theft. I believe mental health problems and addiction alone should not be criminalized offenses. I support harm reduction and alternatives to imprisoning non-violent offenders. I want to see prosecutions focus on those who do real harm. Contrary to what the media would have you believe, public safety is best served by those who come into office with the intention to reform outdated and corrupt policies. This is what electing Kamada promises.
And we need it. The current heir-apparent to the D.A. role, Stacey Eads, has spent more time trying to smear Kamada than promoting her own ideas for how to make Humboldt County safer and better for everyone who lives here (maybe because if she’s elected, nothing will change). The attacks are easily disproved – and have been – so instead, I suggest taking a look at Kamada’s website, reading the vision he has for Humboldt County and, if “an effective, efficient, and fair criminal justice system” sounds like a worthy pursuit to you, make sure to vote Adrian Kamada for District Attorney this Tuesday.