In a crowded contest for Alameda County district attorney, civil rights attorney Pamela Price led the primary election as the frontrunner with 39.46% of votes and current chief assistant district attorney Terry Wiley came in second with 30.52% following the latest tally update Thursday.
The top two contenders are now set to square off in a runoff election in November as neither candidate received the majority threshold required to win outright. The race was wide open this year with incumbent District Attorney Nancy O’Malley opting not to seek re-election in favor of retirement.
“I am thankful and inspired,” Price said in a statement following the primary. “Over the 20 months of our campaign, we have heard again and again that people know that the system is broken and not working for our community.”
She added, “The DA must be accountable to the people. My commitment to this community as well as my values and integrity have been front and center in this race, and it was a magnet for people and organizations that want real justice to be a reality in Alameda County. We are on our way to making it happen.”
Wiley, who has worked for the county’s DA Office since 1990 and has served in several prosecuting units, said he looks forward to continuing to promote his campaign vision of safety and justice.
“We believe that public safety has to be a priority of the next district attorney but public safety does not have to be at the expense of criminal justice reform and you can have criminal justice reform and it does not have to be at the expense of public safety. You can have both, and that’s what our candidacy represents,” Wiley told the Weekly in an interview, adding that he is happy that his message resonated with voters in many parts of the county.
The other two candidates are deputy district attorney Jimmie Wilson, who came in third with 20.74%, and Seth Steward, a former San Francisco prosecutor who now works as chief-of-staff for Oakland City Councilman Dan Kalb. Steward ended at 9.28%.
At the time of writing, Wilson and Steward did not respond to requests for comment.
If elected district attorney this fall, Price seeks to implement her “10-Point Platform” which includes work to restore public trust in the criminal justice system, reduce gun violence, implement fair justice measures, stop over-criminalizing youth, end the death penalty, protect immigrant communities, hold police accountable for misconduct, establish prosecutorial accountability, effective re-entry strategies, and invest in public health and social services.
“I am ready to fix the DA’s office — from building a transparent and public database of our casework, to creating a public integrity unit to address misconduct of law enforcement, to implementing broader methods of diversion courts and creating proven and cost-saving innovations like neighborhood courts. When these changes have been implemented elsewhere, they have led to greater public safety — because public safety begins with public trust,” Price said in a statement.
Wiley, who also serves as the director of the DA office’s new Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is focused on tackling crime while making sure justice is carried out fairly.
“People are tired of crime. They want to see more accountability in our criminal justice system. I think people are tired of the car burglaries, the thefts and in the case of Oakland, people are very, very tired of all the guns and the violence. But at the same time, I think that even in the most conservative corners of the county, people acknowledge that there has to be a greater sense of fairness in our criminal justice system,” Wiley said, adding:
“There are still too many disparities throughout the system and we’re determined to address those disparities so that anyone who comes through our criminal justice system is going to be treated fairly and they’re going to walk away feeling that they received justice.”
The competition between Price and Wiley is already contentious as both candidates shared what they believe to be each others’ shortcomings.
“We know that Mr. Wiley is a carpetbagger who has lived in Solano County for 30 years, and his campaigning clearly showed that he doesn’t know or understand the residents of Alameda County. He has not ever lived here to know what we are dealing with — he has been living in a Solano suburbia bubble,” Price said.
While Wiley has worked in the DA’s office for more than three decades, Price said that his tenure reflects support for the “status quo.”
“After 32 years of supporting and profiting from the status quo, all of a sudden, he claims that he is the person to make changes,” she said.
Wiley, however, said his long-term experience is one of the key qualities that makes him a fit for the role of DA.
“What I represent — should I be blessed to be the next district attorney of Alameda County — is that I bring balance, I bring independence and I bring experience. You’re asking the next district attorney to take over a $100 million government agency with 425 employees. The largest organization (Price) has ever run is a four-lawyer law firm,” Wiley said.
Whoever wins between Wiley and Price come November will mark a historical moment as Alameda County will see its first Black district attorney.