Sonoma County has a new district attorney, according to complete unofficial election results. Former Sonoma County prosecutor Jill Ravitch defeated District Attorney Stephan Passalacqua by 7,308 votes, receiving the approval of 54 percent of the county’s voters. If the count holds up when all ballots, including remaining absentee votes, are counted, she’ll be the first woman to hold that office. Ravitch, of Sebastopol, who celebrated her 52nd birthday Tuesday, is currently a chief deputy district attorney in Mendocino County. She lost to Passalacqua, 47, of Healdsburg, by 1,700 votes when she challenged him four years ago. Ravitch called for new leadership in the district attorney’s office, which she said has high staff turnover, top-heavy management and among the worst felony conviction rates in the state. She cited her 18 years experience prosecuting more than 100 jury trials that secured 12 murder convictions in Sonoma, Alameda and Mendocino counties. Passalacqua claimed the district attorney’s office has a felony trial conviction rate of 88 percent and violent crime is down in Sonoma County, 27 percent in Santa Rosa alone. Passalacqua said he cracked down on violent gang members and sexual predators and raised community awareness of elder abuse and consumer fraud. He said he had increased efficiency and performance standards in the office and hired veteran prosecutors to prosecute gang and homicide cases. The campaign heated up when Passalacqua made unsubstantiated allegations Ravitch swapped “sweetheart deals” for campaign contributions in Mendocino County. Court officials and the Mendocino County District Attorney cited documents discrediting the claim. Passalacqua also criticized Ravitch in his campaign mailers for changing jobs several times during her career as an attorney and prosecutor.
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