This was a historic week for the San Benito County District
Attorney’s Office for several reasons.
This was a historic week for the San Benito County District Attorney’s Office for several reasons.

Career prosecutor Candice Hooper was sworn in as the county’s district attorney, becoming the first woman in San Benito’s history to be elected to that position.

That in itself is a historic moment worthy of note in the annals of San Benito County history. Furthermore, when Hooper took her oath of office Tuesday, it marked the end of John Sarsfield’s reign as the county’s most powerful prosecutor. Hooper’s victory over Sarsfield at the polls in June was a clear indication that voters were fed up with the political antics and scandal that marked Sarsfield’s tenure.

We believe San Benito County is better not only because Sarsfield is gone, but also because Hooper is now in a position to restore honor and integrity to the District Attorney’s Office. As district attorney, we will expect much from Hooper. It will not be enough for her just to lead the office for the next four years. We expect her to work to erase the scars left on county’s criminal justice system by her predecessor.

Sarsfield’s tenure was marked by problem after problem. Not only was he subject of a sexual harassment suit filed by two women in his office, but an independent investigator also later sustained allegations that he had an affair with his office manager and that he retaliated against other prosecutors in the office for political reasons. Two attempts were made to recall him, and both the San Benito County Board of Supervisors and the San Benito County Bar Association voted that they had “no confidence” in Sarsfield’s ability to carry out the duties of his office. And then there was the $5 million lawsuit he filed against the county just months before he left office alleging that the county mishandled the sexual harassment suit against his office.

On top of all of this, Sarsfield also embroiled the county in an expensive and misguided lawsuit against the anonymous group Los Valientes.

We expect Hooper to make the county’s criminal justice system better. When Hooper campaigned for district attorney last year, she made a host of promises that we expect to see accomplished. She promised to move the San Benito County Victim Witness Center back into the District Office to enable this important center to better serve crime victims. This is something we believe cannot be done soon enough. Hooper also promised to make better use of county funds and increase revenue into the office. We expect her to make good on these promises. And, perhaps most importantly, Hooper pledged that she would restore honor and integrity to this important office. We hope she is able to accomplish this by prosecuting criminals to the fullest extent of the law.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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