The county’s upcoming district attorney election will have a new dynamic now that incumbent Humboldt County DA Paul Gallegos has announced that he won’t be in it.
In a Nov. 20 press release, Gallegos said he believes “we have accomplished more than I ever thought we would be able to do over the last 11 years” but has decided not to run for a fourth term.
Taking a reflective tone, Gallegos considers the length of his time as DA in the context of his children’s progression into high school years. “My oldest son was four years old when I was elected to office,” he said. “He is graduating from high school this year.”
Likewise, his older daughter is now a high school freshman and his younger daughter is entering middle school. “I mention this because I have come to the conclusion that it is time for me to get back to my wife and children,” said Gallegos.
Prior to becoming DA, Gallegos partnered with his wife, Joan, as defense attorneys in the Eureka-based Gallegos and Gallegos firm. In the release, Gallegos doesn’t state what his post-DA work plans are.
Gallegos’ tenure has been controversial, particularly during his first two terms. He became DA in 2003 after deciding to run “on a whim” and surprisingly defeating then-DA Terry Farmer.
Farmer was strongly supported by his prosecutors and Gallegos entered an office full of people that didn’t want to work for him and had ridiculed him during the election. The situation wasn’t helped when Gallegos launched a controversial and unsuccessful prosecution of the Pacific Lumber Company, a move that distracted his transition and triggered a recall election.
After winning it, Gallegos’ bid for a second term was challenged by well-liked Prosecutor Worth Dikeman, whose campaign platform echoed increasing doubts about the DA’s management ability. But Gallegos defeated him.
Allison Jackson, a former county prosecutor that Gallegos fired in 2004, challenged him when he ran for a second term but like Dikeman, she lost by about 2,000 votes.
The start of Gallegos’ second term was marked by another controversial and unsuccessful prosecution, this time of former Eureka Police Chief Dave Douglas and Lt. Tony Zanotti. They were the commanding officers during a stand-off with Cheri Moore, a mentally ill Eureka woman who was killed by a team of officers after making threats and brandishing a flare gun in her apartment.
Gallegos’ third term has been less flamboyant but management-related criticisms continue. For many people, however, his professed independence from police, commitment to environmental enforcement, locally acceptable marijuana prosecution policies and community outreach efforts have distinguished him as an exceptional DA.
His term ends in January of 2015. So far, only one candidate — former County Prosecutor Arnie Klein, who was hired by Gallegos in 2006 — has announced candidacy in the upcoming election.