D. A. race gets personal
Quieter than the sheriff’s race but louder than the one for assessor, the contest for El Dorado County district attorney is entering the final phase.
Incumbent Gary Lacy plans to continue his duties with a bit of campaigning on the side. Deputy District Attorney Erik Schlueter is in the midst of a two-week break from the office. Attorney Dale Schafer is giving a radio interview Friday and making television commercials.
The mud is starting to fly.
“I’m going to work to get elected but not at the expense of the office or services to the public,” Lacy said from his Placerville office.
Lacy contends that Schlueter is too busy raising dirt that doesn’t exist. Lacy first ran for office in 1994 against Walt Miller with Schlueter’s help. Now Lacy and Schlueter are trading political blows.
Lacy said during the 1994 campaign he raised “substantial issues regarding services or lack thereof to the public by the district attorney’s office.”
“These things are completely lacking in this campaign because there have not been any improprieties that Mr. Schlueter can raise,” Lacy said.
Schlueter, a deputy district attorney for the county since 1987, is making his first political bid.
“He’s (Lacy) been upset and angry,” Schlueter said. “I think he’s upset that anyone would think to challenge him.”
In the 1998 election, Lacy ran unopposed.
Schafer, a private practice attorney for 14 years, sits in the background during the duel.
“I don’t think most people in the county care what they’re talking about,” he said from his office in Cool. “Both of them are trained as professionals and I don’t think they understand what’s going on out there. Who they’re going after and the tactics they’re using is what concerns most people.”
Issues regarding domestic violence, elder abuse and medical marijuana have been raised during the campaign. Each candidate said the medical marijuana law must be recognized and respected, but they differed on how best to do that.
Lacy has organized a committee of medical doctors to gain their input on possible guidelines. Schlueter plans to set a guideline of six plants or a pound of marijuana or a combination of the two. Schafer would like a guideline of 10 flowering marijuana plants and twice that amount during the vegetative stage. Schafer also has intended guidelines for indoor marijuana plants, he said.
Lake Tahoe Community College instructor Steve Fernald moderated a political debate for candidates for judgeships, sheriff and district attorney at the college Jan. 26. He believes the district attorney race is “nastier” than the sheriff’s race.
“I thought the two strong leaders kind of got into an argumentative match against each other which I really didn’t go for,” Fernald said. “They got in a match back and forth, a war of words.”
Fernald noticed Schafer stayed out of the fray with his answers.
“I thought the whole day was not going to be that exciting but I thought it was pretty interesting. It was heated, they were some arguments and true debate,” he said.
Similar to an accusation in the sheriff’s race, Lacy contends that Schlueter is running because he was passed over for a promotion in the past.
“I knew he wasn’t happy because he was passed over for promotion,” Lacy said. “What I see this as, is him getting back at me for passing him over on promotion.”
Schlueter contends if that were the case, he would have run four years ago when he didn’t get the promotion.
“I told him up front, if I got the promotion, great, but everything had to be good for the office,” Schlueter said. “The best thing for the office is not to run against the district attorney just because you got passed over for promotion. That creates hard feelings in the office and that’s not my style.”
Schafer’s medical marijuana clinic was raided in late September by Drug Enforcement Administration agents who seized files of more than 7,000 patients at the clinic. Schafer and his wife, who contracted breast cancer in 1997 and uses medicinal marijuana, were not charged with a crime.
“There’s no question that I’m an outsider here and that’s what is appealing about me,” he said.
One remaining discussion forum is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday at the community center in El Dorado Hills.