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Lehmberg raises profile, cash at El Rancho campaign event

Tuesday, January 29, 2008 by Austin Monitor

First Assistant DA Rosemary Lehmberg raised the profile of her campaign for District Attorney Monday night with a campaign party at Matt’s El Rancho in South Austin. The event drew about 100 people, including several notable Austin attorneys. Most prominent among those was current District Attorney Ronnie Earle, who has endorsed Lehmberg’s bid for the top position within the DA’s office.

 

“This is like the culmination of a long dream, because for about 10  years I have been trying to get Rosemary Lehmberg to run for Travis County District Attorney,” Earle told the crowd, “so I can quit! She was there when I got there, and I would like for her to be there when I leave as your elected District Attorney.”

 

Earle said he trusted Lehmberg to run the office and handle prosecutions without political bias. “We have a remarkably and dramatically effective office,” he said. “We are known nation-wide for all of these incredible innovations that have made Austin the third-safest major city in the United States and that is no accident.”

 

Lehmberg said she had the wide range of experience necessary to continue the high standards set by Earle for the office. “I’ve worked in every major division of the DA’s office, and I’ve also run the day-to-day operations,” she said. “In every juncture in my career I have looked for ways to change and improve the way we do the public’s business, and I will continue to do that.”

 

One of the improvements Lehmberg would like to make is to reduce the number of minor drug cases handled by the office. “One-third of our dockets involve young people who are charged with small amounts of drugs, so we need to work hard on alternatives to that problem,” she said. “It is imperative that we look for alternatives, whatever they are…drug courts, diversion programs, treatment programs, things we haven’t even thought of yet…to these cases involving young people coming in by the scores to the criminal justice system charged with small amounts of drugs. Every one of those cases that comes into our system represents a life that is off-track, and we can help.”

 

Lehmberg also said she would work to uphold the standards set by Earle in the department’s Public Integrity unit. “Our Public Integrity Unit sees the abuses that come with power and money in the political system. I have dealt with public integrity cases at the very highest level,” she said. “I will look for the facts and the law. I will take each accusation and seek the truth. I will use my very best judgment and I will do what’s right.”

 

Monday night’s campaign party drew many in the legal profession and political community, including former Travis County Attorney Ken Oden; former County Commissioner Valerie Bristol; judicial candidates Woody Jones, John Lipscomb and Carlos Barrera; former State Comptroller John Sharp; and Austin City Council candidate Laura Morrison.

 

Lehmberg is facing Mindy Montford, Rick Reed and Gary Cobb, all assistant district attorneys. All four are also Democrats, which means that the winner of the March 4 Texas Primary election will be the next District Attorney.

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