Monday, March 12, 2012
Trujillo Exits District Attorney Race, Cites Health, Family Concerns
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Mario Trujillo said Friday he will not run for district attorney.
Trujillo, who has raised more than $400,000 and collected a number of endorsements, said health and family concerns convinced him to pull the plug on a campaign that appeared viable.
The health issue was one that showed up after a colonoscopy “about a month and a half ago.”
He expects to make a full recovery, he said, and plans to return to work this week. “I’m going to live to see my grandchildren,” he added.
The second issue, he explained, was an unexpected addition to the family. He and his partner are raising an infant, a relative of his partner’s with a dysfunctional family situation, and are planning to adopt the child.
Trujillo is also raising his children, ages 13 and 16, and adding a baby to the mix has been overwhelming, he said. “I’m going to focus on the family.”
The decision not to file was made last Monday, he explained, but he took a couple of days away from both work and the campaign trail before starting to contact donors and endorsers and explain his decision.
He said he would return his unspent donations. He added that he would talk to supporters, and to the remaining candidates, before making a decision as to whether to endorse in the race.
“If I decide to endorse, it will be somebody I agree with on issues that are important to me,” he said. He mentioned alternative sentencing, rehabilitation, crime prevention, and gang violence.
He has not intention of leaving the District Attorney’s Office, saying he considers himself “absolutely a lifer” there. “I’m very proud to be a deputy district attorney...I look forward to working with the next administration as I have with the last one.”
He added that he was “very proud” to have been part of District Attorney Steve Cooley’s management team “despite our disagreements on the campaign trail.”
Cooley is backing his chief deputy, Jackie Lacey, to succeed him. He criticized Trujillo in December for a mass e-mailing in which the then-candidate criticized the office for policies that had “delayed justice for victims, wasted taxpayer money, and put our community at risk.”
Conciliatory to Cooley
Trujillo was conciliatory Friday, saying he thinks Cooley has done well in the post and that he expects “to maintain my relationship with him.”
Trujillo also shot down speculation that he will run for Los Angeles city attorney next year. He doesn’t live in the city, doesn’t plan to move, and has no interest in the job, he said.
“I want to be the D.A. of L.A. County,” he said. “I hope someday I will give it another shot.”
As of Friday morning, six candidates had filed nominating papers for district attorney, with another—Deputy District Attorney Steven J. Ipsen—having taken them out and not filed. Phone calls to Ipsen were not returned.
Friday would have been the filing deadline, but because the incumbent did not file and is not term-limited, there is a statutory five-day extension, expiring Wednesday.
The six who have filed, and their ballot designations, are John L. Breault III, Deputy District Attorney; Bobby Grace, Deputy District Attorney; Alan Jackson, Gang Homicide Prosecutor; Jackie Lacey, Chief Deputy D.A.; Danette E. Meyers, Senior Deputy DA; and Carmen Trutanich, Los Angeles Chief Prosecutor.
There were rumblings Friday that the designations for Jackson and/or Trutanich might be challenged.
John Thomas, campaign manager for Jackson, said he doubted any such challenge to his candidate’s title would succeed. While he has not been assigned to a designated gang unit for several years, Thomas explained, Jackson has been engaged in ongoing gang prosecutions, including those of gang members allegedly hired by James Fayed to kill his wife, Pamela Fayed.
Jackson, along with Eric Harmon, who is now running for Superior Court judge, prosecuted James Fayed, who was sentenced to death last year for ordering his wife’s murder.
Thomas added that his candidate “literally helped write the book” on gang prosecutions, a reference to a manual he authored for the American Prosecutors Research Institute in 2004.
Thomas suggested that Trutanich’s title might misleadingly seek to portray him as the incumbent in the race, but said he did not know if it would be challenged. Efforts to reach the Trutanich campaign for comment were unavailing.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company