The three district-attorney candidates at the April 24 debate sponsored by the Del Cerro Action Council and San Carlos Area Council answered questions about medical marijuana, whether the DA's office is politicized, and the "peace and tranquility" of residents living near Cowles Mountain.
Bob Brewer, Bonnie Dumanis, and Terri Wyatt faced an audience of 100 people at the hourlong forum at Temple Emanu-El.
During opening statements, Wyatt described herself as a career prosecutor in the San Diego district attorney's office. She served as a deputy district attorney for 26 years and "achieved justice" in nearly 90 jury trials.
Brewer, a Vietnam veteran, worked in Los Angeles as a deputy district attorney and assistant U.S. attorney. In private practice since 1982, Brewer said Dumanis "spent the first 18 months of this term running for mayor."
Dumanis was elected district attorney in 2003. She said her office has a 94 percent conviction rate. "Things are going well, and we need to keep it that way."
Her challengers said the district attorney's office had become too politicized.
Wyatt said, "I supported Bonnie; she did a good job when she started."
Brewer said that as DA, he would never run for political office.
Dumanis quipped, "I think we should all go home…getting elected involves [fundraising] and getting endorsements."
When asked about the impact of the City of San Diego medical-marijuana dispensary ordinance on the county, all candidates said people with a verified need should have access.
Brewer said as a cancer survivor (related to Agent Orange), it was a "very important issue. If I had access, I would have considered" it. He noted that California voters approved medical marijuana 18 years ago.
Dumanis said she "spent a good portion of the day" with San Diego police chief Shelley Zimmerman, and charges were filed against 55 gang members for crimes including drug trafficking. She added that the County of San Diego also has an ordinance. As for the impact of the ordinance, "the jury is out on that."
Wyatt also spoke about crime related to dispensaries and said she was concerned about "backroom drug deals." She said the ordinance is in its infancy and recommended taking "a look at other states that have done a good job" with the issue.
A question that ended "How do we maintain control of our freedoms?" referred to residents' complaints that Cowles Mountain hikers parked on their streets and the mountain magnified sounds.
Wyatt said she researched and "we need to get a better balance." However, it was a land-use issue and "matter" for the council and city attorney. The DA "would get involved if a felony was committed."
Brewer said he wished he received the question first because he would have said the same thing. "If people go up the wrong way or park where they shouldn't, get word to your city council."
Dumanis said, "I disagree. This is why I come out and speak to community groups." (She addressed the San Carlos council in March 2013.) Dumanis said she "reached out" to District 7 councilman Scott Sherman, saw Zimmerman that day, and works "closely" with city attorney Jan Goldsmith.