Sally Moreno, challenging incumbent Madera County District Attorney for his seat next year, introduced herself to what was formerly known as the Mountain Area Tea Party as a coalition builder last week.
“I’ve always been someone who builds relationships and works well with others,” said Moreno, a deputy district attorney in Fresno County. “I’m good at what I do, I’m hard nosed, but I’m not mean ... the way I look at things is these criminals self selected into a group of people that need to go somewhere, and I have the perfect place for them. Where they can’t hurt children, and they can’t hurt us.”
Moreno, speaking to around 30 people from what will now be called the Mountain Area Conservative Forum, laid out a three-step plan should she win election as the county’s chief prosecutor.
Linn, an Oakhurst defense attorney at the time, soundly defeated then incumbent Madera DA Michael Keitz in November of 2014, and was sworn into office in January of 2015. Moreno left for the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office in July of that year.
Step one in her plan, she said, was “holding the line” with Proposition 47 - which reduced most nonviolent felonies in California to misdemeanors when passed in 2014 - by working cooperatively with agencies like the Madera Police Department and Madera County Sheriff’s Office.
“We have to hold the line as best we can,” said Moreno, who worked with both departments when she served as a deputy district attorney in Madera from 2011 to 2015. “My experience as a police officer allows me to relate to law enforcement and understand what they’re doing. I mean, I still have probably 40 or 50 personal cell phone numbers from officers right here in Madera ... working together, we make sure we win big cases.”
Moreno entered the U.S. Army’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Program while attending University of California, Santa Barbara. After graduating in 1990, she became an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department, before being called to duty.
Step two, Moreno said, was “keeping our heads up, and looking around.”
“Not too long ago, I saw the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors having a meeting on what they can do about their rising crime rates,” Moreno said. “Do I think what works in LA is going to work in Madera County? No. But we can look. Maybe there’s some concepts there, some ideas we can adapt and use to come up with new and innovative ways to deal with crime here.”
Moreno also praised the mental health and veterans criminal court programs in Madera County, designed specifically to provide assistance to those with mental issues including drug addiction, and veterans, to help them “straighten up and fly right.” She said those programs have proven effective both for offenders to get a second chance, and taxpayers as they have helped cut down costs.
Linn, a retired U.S. Navy Commander, has lauded the veterans court which he launched in May of 2016, after promising voters he would make it a reality during his 2014 campaign.
Step three, Moreno said, was embracing the future by upgrading the office’s computer systems. She said that would be needed due to major housing developments - with a goal of collectively more than 30,000 homes - underway near Highway 41 and Avenue 12.
During a question and answer session, Moreno said she does not support the idea of “sanctuary cities,” or cities that limit cooperation with federal government on immigration law. She said she does support working with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, to deport illegal immigrants convicted of a crime.
One resident said he wasn’t a fan of Linn, but since becoming DA, he was “doing a fairly good job.”
Moreno responded that she didn’t have data on how Linn’s doing as far as conviction rates or other figures, but that she felt she was a stronger candidate based on her longtime experience in law enforcement and a devotion to improving safety in the county.
Moreno will hold an event at the Coarsegold Community Center from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27.
Moreno will meet and answer questions from the public. Refreshments will be provided.
David Linn also has an event scheduled for 4-8 p.m. Oct. 12 at the home of Sam Pistoresi, 13544 Road 26 1/2, Madera, CA. To make a reservation or for more information, dial (559) 683-7333 or visit www.dalinn.info.
John Pero, who leads the conservative group, said during the meeting inside Yosemite Gateway Restaurant Sept. 19 that what was formerly known as the Mountain Area Tea Party would become the Mountain Area Conservative Forum.
“I think the Tea Party has had its day in court, so to speak,” Pero said.
David Avila also spoke about the State of Jefferson Movement and the rights of property owners. For more information, visit www.soj51.org.
The Mountain Area Conservative Forum will next meet Oct. 17 at Yosemite Gateway Restaurant starting at 6:30 p.m.