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Guest opinion

Conover campaign: How committed is Jonathan Mosher to 2nd chances?

Pima County Attorney candidate Jonathan Mosher has been talking about second chances a lot lately. He's recently declared himself a "reformer" — done with the draconian policies he not only enforced, but supervised as chief criminal deputy under Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall.

Although Lawall has declared Mosher her chosen successor, Mosher claims he has seen the light, and wants a second chance to prove he's the right candidate for true reform. When it comes to second chances, Mosher certainly seems to understand their value, especially when they apply to him. In recent weeks he's developed a narrative that he left a career as a corporate attorney - fighting Erin Brokovich and other environmental activists, no less - because he developed a dependency on alcohol and realized how miserable he was. So he turned towards his long-time dream of prosecuting criminals. He won a second chance, and he wasn't going to waste it. According to Mosher, his own struggles with addiction inform his understanding of those being prosecuted for the same struggle.

There are many details that belie this narrative. Chief among them is the fact that in 2019, under Mosher's supervision, the County Attorney's Criminal Division indicted more people on felony charges than any other year in Pima County history. One-third of those felony charges were low-level, non-violent drug offenses; the very same charges the County Attorney's Office promised reform on four years ago, and the very same cases that Mosher claims he will turn a sympathetic eye towards, if we just give him a second chance.

Mosher will tell you he is not Barbara LaWall; he is merely following her orders, and all that will change the moment he steps into office. Echoing that sentiment is Lawall herself; her chief of staff, Isabel Smutzer; and of course, Chief Deputy County Attorney Amelia Cramer. Many of the County Attorney Office's top brass are on social media and actively text-banking voters, telling them Mosher is really nothing at all like LaWall - we should just give him a second chance.

Speaking of second chances, there is an important criminal justice reform ballot initiative, the "Second Chances Act," which would help reduce the prison population, expand rehabilitative programs, reduce recidivism, and save taxpayers money.

Recently, Mosher has claimed he supports this legislation so much that he gathered signatures to help get it on the ballot. Yet Mosher's mentor, primary endorser, and chosen successor Barbara LaWall filed a lawsuit as the primary plaintiff in an effort to prevent the initiative from ever getting on the ballot.

Jonathan Mosher doesn't have to wait for election results to get a second chance, because LaWall just handed him one. He now has the chance to show Pima County he has the courage of his convictions by repudiating Ms. LaWall's endorsement, refunding her $1,000 donation to him campaign, and asking her to withdraw the lawsuit. Let's see if he does it.

Kat Stratford is a co-director of field operations for Conover for County Attorney. She has previously worked for the County Attorney’s Office, and is a certified rape crisis advocate, a domestic violence survivor/advocate, and has volunteered with Homicide Survivors and other nonprofits for the last seven years.

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