Although he has tried to steer clear of negative campaigning,
district attorney candidate John Sarsfield said repeated attacks by
his opponent have forced him to respond.
Although he has tried to steer clear of negative campaigning, district attorney candidate John Sarsfield said repeated attacks by his opponent have forced him to respond.
The 40-year-old father of two, who has 14 years of experience as a prosecutor, denies claims from his opponent that he has been playing dirty politics.
In what has rapidly become the most heated contest on the Nov. 5 ballot, Sarsfield said he has done everything he can to stay away from negative campaigning, and that it is his opponent Arthur Cantu who has engaged in playing dirty.
“If you go back and look at what was said at the forums, I defy you to find me making any personal attacks against my opponent,” Sarsfield said. “I don’t think I ever have.”
Although Sarsfield said he will not stoop to playing dirty politics, he is not going to stand by and let his opponent distort his record or the truth about his campaign.
“I have defended myself and pointed out when things that were not factually correct were said,” Sarsfield said. “But I have never criticized my opponent in the manner he has gone after me and I’m not going to.”
One thing that Sarsfield and Cantu agree about is when the tone of the race turned negative.
“It started the night of the primary election when he said something like I was mean-spirited and all I said was that he was an interesting person,” Sarsfield said. “That’s when all the name calling started and he started calling me ‘Slick from Salinas.'”
The primary apparently led to a flood of unfounded accusations, he said.
“He started saying that I didn’t live here and my family did not live here, and that I was mean, and narrow-minded,” Sarsfield said.
He said aside from the name-calling, a look at the political advertisements from Cantu’s campaign shows who has been making the negative accusations in the campaign.
“Go back and look at some of the ads he has run, you’ll see there are some really over-the-top accusations,” Sarsfield said. “I have never taken out ads like that. Never.”
One of the accusations supposedly included Cantu claiming that Sarsfield is an out-of-towner and does not live in the community.
“My family has lived here for 10 years,” Sarsfield said. “He’s lived here maybe two years.”
Cantu said his campaign never accused him of being a non-resident.
“I never said that. John has been a resident since 1992. What I said was that he has never worked in this county,” Cantu said.
Sarsfield said he only went after Cantu politically when his opponent made things personal by attacking his family.
“He went after my wife,” Sarsfield said. “He said she was my campaign manager and that she was playing dirty politics. That’s when things really started to get ugly,” Sarsfield said.
The former military prosecutor said he was surprised by the attack against his wife.
“I don’t know where that came from. She’s not actively involved with going out and campaigning for me,” Sarsfield said. “He simply makes these charges without anything to back them up.”
Sarsfield said Cantu went over the top with the accusation that he was somehow controlling the media and telling them what to write about his campaign.
“It’s so bizarre, I can’t believe he would say that,” Sarsfield said.
Sarsfield who has been a deputy district attorney with Monterey County for 10 years, said he wants to bring his 13 years of experience as a prosecutor to bear in San Benito County.
“I think I can make a difference here,” Sarsfield said. “I have specialized training in areas (my opponents) don’t have.”
Some of that specialized training includes training in consumer protection law.
Sarsfield spent eight of his 10 years with the Monterey County District Attorney’s office prosecuting criminal cases, which included everything from narcotics to violent crimes.