District attorney elections and Oregon’s criminal justice status quo (OPINION)
By David Rogers
Oregonians will soon be receiving their ballots for the May election, but there is an incredibly important elected official that most voters will have no influence selecting: our county district attorney (DA).
From 2004-2014, 78 percent of Oregon district attorney races were uncontested. In other words, nearly eight out of every 10 district attorney elections in Oregon were over before they began.
When it comes to district attorney elections, our democracy has atrophied, and the implications for our communities and state are huge.
We rely on elections to elevate public conversations around important issues. But with such a high rate of uncontested DA races, Oregon voters aren’t able to weigh in with how we are feeling about the state of the criminal justice system. Furthermore, we now have multiple generations of voters who have never in their lifetimes had the opportunity to vote in a district attorney race that mattered. Such a dynamic means most of the public has little understanding of the role of DAs…
David Rogers is the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon.