Sally Moreno, candidate for Madera County District Attorney, running against incumbent David Linn, spoke to Sierra Oakhurst Kiwanis Club members last week summarizing her personal experience and outlining the focus she would bring to that office if elected in June.
As a child, Moreno camped with her family at Bass Lake “to get out of the valley heat,” she said. While attending UC Santa Barbara, she became involved with the ROTC. That training paved the way for her to join the Army Military Police Corps as a commissioned officer and, later, to a job as a police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department.
She has served as a prosecuting attorney in Merced, Madera and, currently, Fresno Counties following graduation from San Joaquin College of Law. While serving in Madera County from 2011-15, she successfully prosecuted seven child molesters resulting in life prison sentences.
“One of the things that’s really important and that I don’t think is going real well for Madera County right now is that we have to have a relationship between the district attorney and the sheriff’s office. “We need to use investigative techniques that will get us from probable cause to beyond a reasonable doubt,” Moreno said.
The Madera County Deputy Sheriff’s Association endorsed Moreno’s candidacy last November.
“They make us better and when I say they, I mean the deputy sheriffs, and we, the prosecutors, make them better,” Moreno said. “There’s a constant tension that holds us together. The police officers and the deputy sheriffs are saying, ‘File it, file it, that’s enough, you can file it’ and the prosecutors’ office is saying, ‘No, I want it perfect.’”
“Law enforcement presses prosecutors to step out and press cases that might be a little edgy and we should be doing that because those are what keep our community safe,” she said. “And we press them to make sure cases are better prepared, that they’ve done everything they can do to make those cases good.”
Moreno explained that changes in law have decriminalized drugs but there is still a category of people that do need to be sent away including those committing rapes, murders, arson of inhabited dwellings and assault with firearms.
“[We] need to be able to prosecute those cases effectively,” she said. “We need to look around for dynamic solutions, to address the needs of those diagnosed with mental health disorders or who have mental health issues as well as veterans and victims of human trafficking.”
Moreno envisions getting input from and addressing the varied interests of Bass Lake, Oakhurst, Coarsegold, Chowchilla, Madera, Fairmead, the Ranchos and other valley areas with liaisons from the district attorney’s office who would connect with residents in those areas and bring their concerns back to the DA’s office.
“The Madera [DA’s office] runs fairly well in terms of paper flow,” she said. But she would like to see the DA’s office move forward technologically giving them more flexibility by going paperless as many other counties have.