Thursday, November 9, 2006
Prosecutors Win All Four Runoff Elections for Superior Court
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Three deputy district attorneys and a Los Angeles deputy city attorney won election to the Los Angeles Superior Court in Tuesday’s runoffs, final results showed yesterday.
The victories for four candidates running with the designation “Criminal Prosecutor” or “Criminal Gang Prosecutor” represented a return to a longstanding tradition that was broken two years ago when four prosecutors lost runoffs—three to subordinate judicial officers and one to a state deputy attorney general.
Deputy District Attorney David W. Stuart compared his victory over Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Janis L. Barquist—who works on the civil side of the office—to “a dream come true.”
Stuart, who lost his first bid for judicial office six years ago when he came in fourth in the primary, polled nearly 59 percent of the vote, winning by a final tally of 645,962 to 451,201.
“I was expecting it to be closer,” he told the MetNews. “I’m thrilled with the results.”
Stuart reported spending close to $150,000 on the race, which did not include $27,000 for a candidate statement—which his opponent did not have. That expenditure need not, by law, be itemized in the official report if the candidate pays for the statement with personal funds.
Much of that money was loaned to the campaign by Stuart and his family, and the candidate said he expects to hold fundraising events in the months ahead in order to reduce or retire that debt.
Barquist—a first-time candidate—said that while she was disappointed she didn’t do better, the campaign was “really interesting.” She said she was gratified by “the reception I received from many fine people throughout the county” and did not rule out another run.
Barquist, who reported expenditures of just under $170,000 through Oct. 21, said she also has an application for judicial appointment pending.
Deputy District Attorney Daviann Mitchell said she was not surprised by the 59 percent to 41 percent spread in her victory over retired Workers’ Compensation Judge John Gutierrez. Mitchell was running for the first time; Gutierrez lost two previous races, both in runoffs against prosecutors.
The victor said her “gut feeling” was that she would get between 55 and 60 percent of the vote.
Gutierrez had polled over 45 percent in each of his two prior runoffs. Mitchell’s analysis, based on precinct-by-precinct results in the June primary, was that she did better than Gutierrez’s past opponents among Hispanic and African American voters.
She credited her campaigning in areas such as East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights, noting that she knew many people there because of her years of work as a prosecutor. Her total campaign spending was about $190,000, she said.
Mitchell used a professional consultant in the primary, but put together her own campaign in the runoff with the help of some well-known legal and political heavy-hitters. She said she owed her victory in large part to District Attorney Steve Cooley, Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally, D-Compton, former District Attorney Robert Philibosian, State Bar President Sheldon Sloan, and former Los Angeles City Councilman Nate Holden.
She said she “wouldn’t mind” an appointment to the court that would enable her to begin work prior to the commencement of her term, which begins Jan. 8.
Gutierrez did not return a phone call seeking comment on the election.
The biggest winner on the day was Deputy District Attorney Hayden Zacky, who defeated attorney George C. Montgomery by a count of 691,718 to 395,145, or 64 percent to 36 percent.
Zacky said he actually spent a little over $200,000 on the campaign. A higher total reported on his official forms, he said, actually includes the unexpended portion of a loan he received from his father.
Ronald Zacky, a Sherman Oaks certified public accountant, seeded the campaign with a loan of $300,000, half of which has already been repaid, the judge-elect said.
Zacky said he was considering applying for an early appointment, and was interested in an assignment to the Antelope Valley—where he worked before being transferred to Van Nuys last summer—because he knows the court there is short of judges.
Montgomery did not return a phone call.
Also elected on Tuesday was Deputy City Attorney Deborah L. Sanchez, who had the closest race. She polled 596,844, or 52 percent, to 546,103, or 48 percent, for Deputy Attorney General Bob Henry.
Henry, who led in the early returns, only to see Sanchez shoot past him after midnight—and never relinquish the lead—said that after three bids for election to the court, he had run his last race. Henry has also run for Congress and the state Assembly.
“You can tell when some things are not meant to be,” he commented. He has applied for judicial appointment in the past, but will not do so again, he explained, because he is “too high profile a Democrat” to gain an appointment from the reelected Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company