I checked out a forum run by City Rep Emma Acosta and students from Burges High School earlier this week. I love this forum - or any forum run by stands for that matter - you will always get good, strong questions out of those forums.
They are too young to know they are supposed to be scared by the talking suits in front of them.
I'll post video of the back and forth between the candidates over the weekend but there was a pretty big dust up between the three candidates over the Villegas case. It happened during their closing remarks and since I've heard them all before I stopped recording because most of the time the closings are uneventful.
So I interviewed two of the three candidates after the forum to touch on the issue that seemed to set the three of them off.
I was unable to interview the District Attorney. He declined to be interviewed because he was going to a fundraiser. At first I thought he just didn't want to answer tough questions but I later found out I was wrong, their race was first to debate because he needed to get to his fundraiser.
So rain check for Mr. Esparza.
But I did interview Mr. Morales and Ms. Rosales.
Rosales took the offensive, and apparently also last night at a forum at Americas High School, about contributions from John Mimbela and family members.
The controversy is over the question of whether or not the individual candidates would retry the Villegas case. Obviously the District Attorney is trying the case so we know his answer. Morales states that he would dismiss the case "on day one" if elected.
Rosales has a more nuanced answer about needing to see all the facts in the case first before deciding to move forward on the case.
What got everyone going was the fact that Rosales indicated that 1/3 of Morales' campaign contributions come from Mimbela, who is the guy that has been bankrolling the defense for Mr. Villegas and is his employer now.
So Rosales is implying that the reason Morales would dismiss the case is because Mimbela is backing him.
When I did a quick check of financial reports it appears that there are three Mimbela family members that have contributed to Mr. Morales for a total of $16,500.
That would actually account for more like 43% of Morales' total contributions.
That is the most amount of contributions by one individual or family to one candidate of any of the candidates running locally in the March primary. PACs have contributed more money to candidates as an entity, but not an individual or family.
Morales was upset at the assertion that political contributions would influence his decision to go forward on a case. He also indicated that Rosales' campaign team had met with Mimbela at some point during the campaign.
Sources indicate that Mr. Villegas himself was actually present at the Americas High School debate last night but I did not attend and have no video of that event.
I also asked a few other questions of the candidates that might give you all some insight into the qualifications of the candidates.