Political infighting with the DA must stop

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The recall effort against District Attorney John Sarsfield began
with a bang over the summer but ended with a whimper this month.
Last Friday, the deadline to collect 5,000 signatures passed with
proponents only gathering 1,000.
The recall effort against District Attorney John Sarsfield began with a bang over the summer but ended with a whimper this month. Last Friday, the deadline to collect 5,000 signatures passed with proponents only gathering 1,000.

While Sarsfield dodged this bullet, it should be a wake-up call for the prosecutor. He needs to take a long look at how he goes about his business, because his ongoing political battles threaten to overwhelm his ability to do his job properly. Prosecuting crime, and his position as the county’s top law enforcement official, is too important a job to consumed by political infighting.

Sarsfield may feel vindicated by the failed recall effort, but the last year in the district attorney’s office has been a three-ring circus. If he wants to be an effective leader between now and the next election in 2006, he must focus on building bridges in the community.

There was the debacle of the on-again, off-again grand jury investigation of March’s District 5 election, which is still unresolved. There were allegations of an office affair that led two female employees to file a harassment complaint with the county, which is being hashed out. There was the recall effort. Now, the family of Ralph Santos, murdered in 2003, is outraged by what they say was callous treatment at the hands of the District Attorney’s Office.

It’s not been a banner year. There will always be enemies when you have to make difficult judgment calls, but Sarsfield has exacerbated the situation.

Now that the recall effort officially is dead, Sarsfield has an opportunity to mend some fences with his political enemies and get on with the people’s business. Unfortunately, he doesn’t appear to be taking that approach.

He recently accused Supervisor Reb Monaco of “shooting his mouth off” to the press when Monaco raised questions about $10,000 in expenditures Sarsfield made to a private individual to deliver subpoenas. And he has made a string of disparaging remarks about County Registrar John Hodges and his handling of elections.

Politics in San Benito County are rough and tumble, but what gets lost in the dustups is the business of the people. Sarsfield should meet with those who attack him regularly to see if they can hash out an agreement to temper the political disputes so he can concentrate on the job he was elected to do – prosecute criminals.

To respond to this editorial please send or bring letters to Editor, The Hollister Free Lance, 350 Sixth St., Hollister, Calif. 95023 or e-mail to [email protected]

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