Updated, Nov. 18, 7:30 p.m. Civil rights attorney Pamela Price wins tight race for Alameda County District Attorney after the registrar’s office released the completed results Friday night.
Price won 53% of the votes to defeat Terry Wiley, the county’s chief deputy district attorney.
An audit will be done to confirm the results.
The DA is responsible for representing the people of California in criminal, civil and juvenile cases, and decides whether or not a person should face criminal charges following an arrest by police.
They oversee an office of hundreds of lawyers who have the authority to set policies like whether or not to seek prison or jail sentences for people convicted of drug offenses or theft or to divert these people into treatment programs or other alternatives.
Price, a graduate of Yale and UC Berkeley’s Law School, has decades of experience as a criminal defense attorney, beginning at the Bayview Hunters’ Point Community Defenders’ office in San Francisco. In 1991, she started her own firm and is perhaps best known as a civil rights attorney.
Over the years, she has represented people in cases of wrongful termination, retaliation and discrimination. With this background, she views the role of the District Attorney as a “minister of justice.”
“That’s the best way for me to describe it to people,” she said. “To administer justice in a way that is fair and appropriate for the community.”
In 2018, Price ran against O’Malley as the longstanding DA’s first opponent, picking up an impressive 122,850 votes, or 42%. While Price won nearly every precinct in Oakland and Berkeley, except for some in the hills, O’Malley won the primary by carrying most of the suburban parts of the county. That was enough votes to win without needing a runoff that November.
The election results revealed a stark divide. Communities of color most impacted by crime and mass incarceration chose reform candidate Price, while more affluent suburban areas in the Tri-Valley and southern Alameda County voted for O’Malley.
Wiley, a graduate of UC Berkeley and the University of San Diego School of Law, is a 32-year veteran of the Alameda DA’s office and currently the third-highest ranking member of the office as a chief deputy district attorney.
He has touted his experience working 21 different assignments within the DA’s office and said it would be difficult for anyone without knowledge of the DA administration to step in and manage what he called a complex agency with a nearly $100 million budget.
“When you look at the candidates in this race, all have their platforms and policies. You do have to look at experience. We all have ideas, but I’ve actually been doing it,” Wiley said before the primary.
Joining as a deputy district attorney in 1992, Wiley spent the '90s and 2000s trying complex felony cases, including murders and gang-related crimes. He was the prosecutor in the second trial of the Riders, a group of Oakland police officers charged for allegedly planting drugs and brutalizing West Oakland residents while on duty. Both trials against the Riders ended in acquittals on some charges while jurors deadlocked on others.
Wiley said the courtroom experiences in the ’90s left a mark on him, especially the defendants sent to state prison for marijuana crimes.
That is one reason why he and the NAACP began holding expungement clinics a few years ago at the Hayward Public Library. Wiley said they were able to expunge records for hundreds of individuals.
Price is endorsed by scholar and activist Angela Davis, actor Danny Glover, civil rights attorney Carl E. Douglas, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, Anti-Police Terror Project co-founder Cat Brooks and other Oakland police reform advocates and former Oakland Mayor Jean Quan.
Wiley’s endorsements include Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, civil rights attorneys including John Burris, Congressman Eric Swalwell, several labor unions including the Alameda County Prosecutors’ Association and many county elected officials.
David DeBolt contributed to this report. Check back for updates to this breaking news story.