Prosecutor receives major endorsement in DA's race

POSTED: 01:43 PM PDT Jun 27, 2013 
RIVERSIDE, Calif. -

Riverside County's largest law enforcement union announced today that it's backing veteran Riverside County prosecutor Mike Hestrin for district attorney.

The 3,400-member Riverside Sheriffs' Association -- which represents deputies, probation officers and District Attorney's Office investigators -- endorsed Hestrin, who is seeking to unseat his boss, one-term incumbent Paul Zellerbach.

``RSA's vote reflects the need for new leadership at the District Attorney's Office,'' said RSA President Robert Masson. ``At a critical time when the residents of Riverside county often fear for the safety of their loved ones and the protection of their property, RSA recognizes the need for a DA in office who prioritizes public safety and who will provide the law enforcement community with the support, tools and partnership needed to accomplish our core mission -- protecting our community.''

While rank-and-file sheriff's personnel line up behind Hestrin, Sheriff Stan Sniff has endorsed Zellerbach for a second term. Sniff was not immediately available to comment on RSA's choice.

The public safety union's endorsement comes just a week after the Hemet Police Officers' Association threw its support behind Hestrin.

The 42-year-old deputy district attorney, who has handled some of the county's most high-profile death penalty cases over the last five years, is running on a platform of strengthening the agency's ``core mission'' of making certain offenders face the consequences of their crimes, reversing what he says is cratering morale in the office and ending ``favoritism'' to determine who gets what position.

Zellerbach, 60, considers his 2 1/2 years as district attorney a success. The former judge told City News Service that the court system has been disburdened of a backlog of criminal and civil cases since he took office, conviction rates -- and plea agreements -- are up, and the agency is operating in the black.