Dehghani-Tafti Will Bring Fresh Perspective as Commonwealth’s Attorney
By Marcus Simon
I am proud to be supporting Parisa Dehghani-Tafti for Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Falls Church and Arlington County. Parisa has spent almost two decades working to improve the criminal justice system as a public defender, innocence attorney, and law professor.
She works to fix the system’s mistakes and free the wrongfully convicted. She knows firsthand the toll prosecutorial errors take on survivors and victims’ families. She understands the difficulties defendants face when they are forced to stay in jail because they can’t afford cash bail, or when a minor conviction leaves them vulnerable to deportation.
My first job out of law school was in the military. As a prosecutor with the Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps I handled cases involving domestic violence, sexual assault, dereliction of duty, and disorderly conduct. In the JAG, we have to switch sides every few years: the defense attorneys become prosecutors and the prosecutors become defense attorneys. We do this because the job isn’t about amassing wins or securing convictions. It’s about administering justice. So after spending a few years immersed in police reports working with military police and criminal investigations agents, it’s essential to get a break from that and experience the system through the eyes of the accused.
Parisa will bring a fresh perspective to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, one a career prosecutor simply cannot. She will address the very real racial disparities that exist here in Arlington and Falls Church head on, not make excuses for them. She won’t waste resources prosecuting thousands of simple possession of marijuana cases and focus instead on more serious crimes with victims. She will support efforts to restore voting rights to returning citizens who have served their time, rather than publicly opposing them. For those who say the law needs to be changed by the General Assembly, she will advocate for meaningful criminal justice reform in Richmond rather than blocking it at every turn.
My colleagues and I are working hard on legislation that will make our system more fair, while keeping our communities safe and ensuring that victims’ voices are heard. Bills to decriminalize marijuana, end the death penalty for the seriously mentally ill, implement civil asset forfeiture reform, and provide relief for people convicted using junk science. The Commonwealth’s Attorneys lobby, including the current Commonwealth’s Attorney, have opposed these reforms and so many more. I am confident Parisa will be a real partner in our reform efforts in Richmond, while adopting policies within her discretion here in Falls Church.
She will build a criminal justice system that reflects our community’s values. I’m proud to support Parisa for Commonwealth’s Attorney, and I hope you’ll vote for her on June 11.
Marcus Simon represents the 53rd district, which includes the City of Falls Church, in the Virginia House of Delegates.
Truth & Experience Matter; Vote Stamos for Commonwealth’s Attorney
By Jody Acosta
Truth matters. Experience matters. Both these principles are at stake in our current Commonwealth’s Attorney primary race. I wholeheartedly support Theo Stamos, our current CA. She has earned my vote with her experience as a prosecutor and with the positive changes she has brought to our community in her past two terms. She has earned my vote for her dedication to crime victims, specifically survivors of violent crime. I have seen Theo in court; her masterful prosecutorial skills have been honed over many years of courtroom experience. We live in a safer, more aware and caring community because of Theo Stamos.
There is a stark contrast between the two candidates running for CA. Theo, on the one hand, has over 30 years of trial experience, balancing victims’ rights with compassionate, progressive reforms that help reduce crime. She founded the community’s first Drug Court, to help those with addiction problems find their way out of the criminal justice system and into treatment and recovery. She helped create the Second Chance intervention program for youthful offenders. She leads the Sexual Assault Response Team, whose protocol for how the community addresses sexual assault is a model throughout Virginia.
Theo’s opponent, on the other hand, has never prosecuted a single case and has never tried a case in Virginia. Theo’s opponent states that this lack of experience doesn’t matter, but it does. Her thinking that it doesn’t matter shows a fundamental lack of understanding about the responsibilities of a CA.
Theo is a truth-teller. She’s been telling truth to power for years both personally and professionally, even when it’s not politically expedient. Her opponent, on the other hand, would have you believe, for example, that Theo doesn’t want to restore voting rights to felons who have served their time. Not true. Theo believes strongly in voting restoration for those who have paid their debt to society, but she would not support a blanket restoration of rights that opened the door to gun restoration rights for violent career criminals, including some who were at that moment sitting in the Arlington County jail.
One more thing: Theo’s opponent has accepted well over $500,000 in “dark money” from PACs outside Virginia, which she is using to fund her misleading narrative about Theo’s true record of reform and progress in our community. Theo, by contrast, has received more than twice as much as her opponent in grass roots support from actual Falls Church and Arlington citizens.
Do we want a top prosecutor with no experience, who twists the truth, and who runs a local campaign using national hot-button issues that don’t apply to us? No. Vote for truth. Vote for experience. Vote for Theo Stamos on June 11.
Jody Acosta is the treasurer of the City of Falls Church.