May 7—For the first time since she was elected, San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar is facing an opponent for her seat, and it's one of her staff.
Ron Freitas is a prosecutor in the District Attorney's Office's juvenile justice division. A member of the office for the last 34 years, Freitas said he wants to restore integrity, respect and trust to the position.
"Over the past eight years, I have seen an erosion in the trust that people have in our office because they do not believe career criminals are being prosecuted, that quality-of-life crimes such as homelessness go unaddressed and that prosecutorial priorities are out of step with the majority of county residents," he said. "Our county residents deserve to feel safe in their homes, parks and schools and have confidence that the DA will prosecute those who commit crimes."
Freitas said he would also restore the confidence that while habitual criminals are prosecuted, first-time and younger offenders would be provided opportunities to enroll in diversion programs that would get them back on track.
"I plan to work with law enforcement agencies in each of the cities in our county to re-prioritize the prosecution of quality-of-life issues like homelessness that are negatively impacting all our communities," he said. "I hope to improve the morale of the District Attorney's Office and end the early retirements and transfers that have led to us losing experienced and effective employees. I want criminals to know that their actions will have consequences and that those who break the law will be punished accordingly."
The most challenging criminal justice issues in the county are "quality of Life" crimes such as vagrancy, property crimes and homelessness, he said, and that early intervention in enforcing those crimes would be an effective deterrent to prevent more serious infractions.
Freitas said he would work to repeal Proposition 47, which reduced thefts of more than $950 from a felony to a misdemeanor, and that he does not support the "no bail policy" that was recently approved by voters in 2020.
In addition, Freitas said the county needs more drug intervention and education programs to fight the rise in Fentanyl use and overdoses, as well as equip all law enforcement officers on patrol and first responders with Narcan to ensure those overdosing can be saved.
Freitas received an undergraduate degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and a law degree from University of the Pacific's McGeorge School of Law.
He's been a member of the Lodi Unified School District Board of Education for the last 10 years, serving the area that includes Clairmont, Larson, Mosher and Westwood elementary schools and McNair High School.
He served as the board's president last year.
For more information, visit ronfreitas.com.