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Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton is facing a re-election challenge from someone in her own office — county prosecutor Mary Knox, a 37-year veteran of the District Attorney’s Office whose campaign promises to “restore public safety.”
Becton was a retired county Superior Court judge when the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors appointed her to fill the role vacated by former District Attorney Mark Peterson after he resigned in 2017. Becton was then elected to the post in 2018.
On Knox’s website the prosecutor — who was born and raised in Walnut Creek — touts her record going after gang activity and securing $3.5 million for security cameras to discourage freeway shootings. She also said she garnered $3.5 million in federal funding to combat sex trafficking.
After a string of smash-and-grab robberies in the county in the past year, Knox says she has “a three-point plan to hold organized crime syndicates accountable and prevent future crimes.”
Her website also says, “Mary understands that we don’t have to choose between advancing social justice and reducing crime. She led the effort to end discrimination against women in the Contra Costa County’s District Attorney’s office. She won a $3 million grant for the Youth Justice Initiative to keep our children in school. And she serves as the President of “Get VOCAL for Victims.”
Becton’s website says she is the first woman, and first African American, to serve as district attorney in the county’s 167-year history. It also says Becton is the only African American district attorney in California.
Becton leads a staff of 225 attorneys, investigators and victim witness and support staff, overseeing a $49 million budget.
During the campaign, Knox has pointed out that Becton hasn’t personally prosecuted a case. But she didn’t come to the job without courtroom experience, having served for 22 years as a judge in Contra Costa County, where her colleagues elected her presiding judge.
Becton says she has helped fight local gang activity as co-leader of the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, eliminated the backlog of untested sexual assault kits, worked with victims’ rights groups, and addressed racial disparities and bias in the dispositions of criminal cases.
She said she also worked toward charging those allegedly involved in the mass looting of Nordstrom in Walnut Creek last November with felonies.
Election Day is June 7. After May 23, new voters need to register and vote in person at one of the early voting sites or on Election Day at a polling site.