Tori Verber Salazar cruised to an easy win Tuesday in the San Joaquin County district attorney race.
With all 501 precincts reporting, unofficial results updated at 11:45 a.m. Friday, June 13, show Verber Salazar with 56,653 votes (78.97). Her opponent, Gary Hickey, finished with 14,862 votes (20.72). There were 223 write-in votes.
Verber Salazar, 48, is a self-described moderate Republican from Woodbridge. A gang homicide attorney, she has been working for the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office for 27 years.
She first started with the office in 1987 as an intern, eventually working her way up to deputy district attorney in 2001, then preliminary attorney in 2003, finally reaching her current position as gang homicide attorney in 2006.
As a candidate for district attorney, Verber Salazar has been switching hats between her job and her campaign, spending free time designing posters and shaking hands.
“It’s been one of the most challenging and rewarding parts of my career,” she said.
Verber Salazar said she sat down with her family and agreed that they would run a clean and honest campaign.
“We told people the truth, even if they didn’t want to hear it,” she said.
But a few attacks had been posted online, pointing out that she failed the California Bar Exam, which is required to become an attorney, nine times.
She said failing was the best thing to ever happen to her.
“You’re going to fail in life, but what defines you is how you pick yourself up,” she said.
Throughout her campaign, Verber Salazar said she has collected anything from $1 in donations to $5,000. Her biggest endorsement, she said, came from a majority of law enforcement agencies in the San Joaquin Valley.
As District Attorney, Verber Salazar said she would like to do more to reach out to the communities of San Joaquin County. She wants the district attorney’s office to be a resource for people to learn how to prevent crime, and how to navigate the system if needed.
She hopes to use more technology when it comes to reaching communities, to work more closely with local law enforcement and to put more focus on “quality of life” crimes.
Verber Salazar says one of the biggest problems the district attorney faces is refilling positions lost during the recession.
During that time, attorneys from Tracy were moved to Manteca, and attorneys from Lodi were moved to Stockton. Those who were not relocated lost their jobs.
Verber Salazar said she is walking a fine line when it comes to charging suspects. On one hand, she said, she has to take these people off the streets. On the other, she wants more programs to help them so that they don’t end up behind bars again.
“I love what I do. I’m honored for what I do,” Verber Salazar said. “It’s a great job.”
Hickey, Verber Salazar’s election opponent, is a Stockton attorney who hoped to make the district attorney office more efficient through better communication. He said the race should be run through “competency, not popularity,” according to a New-Sentinel report.
If elected, he planned to reshape the district attorney’s office with his ideas, in part by releasing non-violent inmates as they await trial and putting police in locations with high crimes at night.
Hickey faced a number challenges over the course of his campaign, including legal trouble with DUI’s.
He is currently awaiting trial in a hit-and-run case involving a telephone pole, that was postponed to June 9.
Hickey was unavailable for comment Tuesday evening.
Contact reporter James Striplin at firstname.lastname@example.org