Chavez: The prosecutor Gov. Newsom should appoint as attorney general
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen spoke at the County Government Chambers March 31 about the latest revisions to the shelter in place order. Photo by Katie Lauer.

When Jeff Rosen first ran for Santa Clara County District Attorney in 2010, I did not endorse him. He won.

When I first ran for county supervisor in 2013, he did not endorse me. I won. Jeff and I are not natural political allies. We’re a bit of an odd couple. He is a centrist Democrat, while I have always been a progressive Democrat. However, after working closely with Jeff for the last eight years, I now enthusiastically encourage Gov. Gavin Newsom to appoint him the next Attorney General of California. Let me tell you why.

The past few years have brought into sharp focus how vital the rule of law is in our society and the key role an attorney general plays in upholding it. These are serious times and California needs, and deserves, an attorney general who has the ability to listen, learn, pivot, change when necessary and then drive that change in the office they lead.

District Attorney Jeff Rosen has done all of those things in Santa Clara County.

Jeff and I have teamed up to solve some of the most significant criminal justice problems facing Santa Clara County, and California.

One of the best examples of our collaboration was the clearing of Santa Clara County’s backlog of untested rape kits. I initially asked Jeff about the backlog after receiving a call from a concerned constituent. After looking into the matter, he called and told me that Santa Clara County was by and large incompliance with state law requiring the testing of rape kits within 120 days. Then he surprised me by saying, “Supervisor Chavez we may be in compliance, but I believe we can do much better.”

That led to the Board of Supervisors approving in June 2018 my proposal, in partnership with the District Attorney, to set a 30-day goal for processing all rape kits. We became the first county in the nation to make that commitment to our residents and to sexual assault victims.

Today, Santa Clara County remains a national model of fast and accurate rape kit testing. That means local victims of rape, 91% who are women, are more likely to get justice – and their perpetrator is less likely to go unpunished and unidentified – than anywhere else in the United States.

In our work together on this issue, I have always been impressed by Jeff’s concern and empathy for the victims of sexual assault. He fundamentally demonstrates a respect for their needs.

I have worked together with Jeff Rosen on multiple criminal justice reform issues during the last seven years, including bail reform, his proposal to open Family Justice Centers to support domestic violence victims, and starting a human trafficking task force that holds perpetrators accountable and helps trafficking victims.

I know Gov. Newsom is considering appointing Jeff as California’s next Attorney General. That would be good news for all Californians.

Throughout his career, Jeff has demonstrated both a deep respect for the rule of law, and a humility about his role as an enforcer. He does not get defensive when he, or his office, is criticized. Instead, he truly listens, and if he believes a mistake was made, he takes responsibility and fixes the problem.

I have asked Jeff what he will do first if he becomes attorney general. “I will make sure that California becomes a national model for rape kit testing, just like we’ve done here in Santa Clara County,” was his reply.

I am absolutely certain that is exactly what Attorney General Jeff Rosen would do, and why he is the best choice for the job.

Cindy Chavez is a Santa Clara County supervisor.

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