The two challengers of incumbent Bonnie Dumanis for San Diego County District Attorney accused her of using the office to support her political ambitions during a one-hour debate Thursday night in Del Cerro.

Terri Wyatt, who described herself as a “career prosecutor, not a politician,” said the working environment in the district attorney’s office had become increasingly political, especially after Dumanis began her unsuccessful run for mayor of San Diego.

Terri Wyatt, left, Bonnie Dumanis and Bob Brewer at a forum sponsored by the Del Cerro Action Council and the San Carlos Area Council. Photo by Chris Jennewein

“I’m sad that that happened. I think that Bonnie let us down,” Wyatt said.

Bob Brewer, a former federal prosecutor and now a trial lawyer, said his slogan “since day one has been public safety, not politics.

“It’s time for new leadership in the district attorney’s office, and I’m not the only one who believes this,” he said, citing numerous endorsements.

Dumanis, the district attorney since 2003, defended her record, citing “historic lows” in crime rates and her office’s 94 percent conviction rate.

“I am running for re-election because I am passionate about keeping you safe in San Diego County,” she told a crowd of nearly 100 at Temple Emanu-El . “Things are going well and we need to keep it that way.”

She said the district attorney is elected in San Diego, so the office is political by nature, and it’s important to have strong working relationships with other elected officials. As for her unsuccessful run for mayor, she said, “I stepped up. When did that become a bad thing?”

Although disagreeing on the role of politics in the office, all three agreed on the need to carefully enforce medical marijuana and gun control laws so as not to restrict lawful activities, and all supported capital punishment.

“There are certain crimes that cry out for the death penalty,” Wyatt said.

And on gun control, Dumanis said, “We have made sure that if you use a gun (in a crime) you go to prison.”

The debate was sponsored by the Del Cerro Action Council and the San Carlos Area Council, and moderated by Doug Courlee, editor of the Mission Times Courier.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.

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