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L.A. County D.A. candidates detail views on marijuana, Prop. 36

September 20, 2012 | 10:03 pm

Alan JacksonLos Angeles County district attorney candidates Alan Jackson and Jackie Lacey held what may be their last debate before November's election in front of a jury of fellow prosecutors Thursday.

During the debate, held at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy in Little Tokyo, the candidates fielded questions ranging from office politics to their positions on medical marijuana dispensaries -- both said they would continue to prosecute the clinics even if voters overturn the city of Los Angeles' dispensary ban -- and a ballot measure that would scale back California's tough three-strikes law. Lacey supports the measure, Proposition 36, which is backed by Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, and Jackson opposes it.

The Assn. of Deputy District Attorneys/AFSCME Local 2682 has yet to endorse a candidate in the race. The union supported another candidate, Deputy Dist. Atty. Danette Meyers, in the primary.

Jackie LaceyCooley has had a contentious relationship with the association. During the debate, Jackson, assistant head deputy of the major crimes unit, criticized Cooley's handling of that relationship, particularly with former union President Steve Ipsen, who is now suing Cooley in federal court over alleged anti-union activities.

Jackson called the public spat between Cooley and Ipsen a black eye for the office and promised that if elected, he would "make sure I acquit myself in keeping with the dignity of the office of district attorney."

Lacey, as the chief deputy district attorney in the office, is Cooley's second in command. She has come under fire for giving conflicting testimony under oath at two union grievance hearings. She attributed the contradiction to being confused and having problems with her blood sugar level.

When asked during the debate to say what her biggest disagreement with Cooley had been, Lacey declined to give specifics.

"We have had disagreements," she said. But she added that to have an effective management team in the office, "you disagree in private, but when you go out there, you go out and support the elected official."

In response to Jackson's comments about the union dispute, Lacey did weigh in: "I believe the administration tried its best to stay out of court, but it just did not work out."

When asked what they would do to improve working conditions for front-line prosecutors, Jackson said he would lean on the county Board of Supervisors for a pay increase and said he would fix technical issues that currently prevent deputy district attorneys from accessing their work email on their cellphones.

Lacey promised to listen to and care about the prosecutors' concerns and said she would fight attempts to convert their pension plan to a 401(k).

Association President Donna McClay said the prosecutors had wanted to wait until after the debate to make an endorsement decision. The choice will be made by a vote of the full membership. McClay said the process might take several weeks.

ALSO:

For L.A. County's next D.A., questions of substance

Jackie Lacey wins key police union backing in D.A. race

Lacey, Jackson highlight differences in D.A. race debate

-- Abby Sewell

Photo: Alan Jackson, top right. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

Photo: Jackie Lacey, middle left. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

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