Triplicate Staff

Before four candidates squared off in the June primary for Del Norte County district attorney, The Daily Triplicate endorsed Bob Drossel.

Our reasoning was that Drossel had a spotless record and offered stability while incumbent Mike Riese and challenger Jon Alexander carried personal baggage from past difficulties.

Alexander and Drossel advanced to a Nov. 2 runoff and trained their sights on each other. They've both talked about running the DA's Office better and reducing plea bargains.

Alexander has connected Drossel to Riese whenever possible, and Drossel made that task a little easier by saying he would consider retaining the current DA to complete major cases he was already prosecuting. Drossel, meanwhile, has shown no hesitation to dwell on Alexander's checkered past and the fact that he remains on probation with the State Bar.

It's time for us to weigh in again.

Despite the candidates' attempts to convince voters otherwise, there are two viable contenders in this race.

Jon Alexander is a former methamphetamine addict who mishandled some cases during that addiction seven or more years ago, according to the State Bar. He got clean, and just as important, he came clean, openly acknowledging past problems and how they help define who he is today.

He has completed a State Bar discipline program, although he remains on probation. Despite critics' claims to the contrary, it is highly unlikely that he will slip up on the terms of probation at this late juncture, and less likely still that he will lose his ability to practice law. He also has become a model citizen, a community activist who has worked tirelessly for many causes - especially trying to reduce Del Norte's drug problems.

We simply do not buy the argument that Alexander's past should disqualify him from serving as DA. Our advice to voters is to forgive, but not necessarily forget.

Because in Bob Drossel we have a candidate with a solid judicial background and no indication that he has ever epically failed to handle the stresses of life that overload all of us from time to time.

Drossel was appointed Del Norte's DA in 1999. He wasn't successful enough to avoid getting voted out of office in 2002, but there seem to be no black marks on his record as a prosecutor.

Frankly, Drossel is just not that great of a politician. He doesn't speak with the passion of his opponent, but he does offer the administrative experience of having already directed a staff of deputy prosecutors and dealt with a departmental budget.

Alexander, an open book if ever there was one, acknowledged there would be a "learning curve" if he were elected. It's worth considering that Drossel's background is mainly in prosecution while Alexander's is mainly in criminal defense. On the other hand, Alexander has spent the last few years immersed in the practice of law, while Drossel has been retired other than a short stint with the DA's Office under Riese.

We suspect that Alexander might prove the more effective courtroom prosecutor, Drossel the more capable administrative prosecutor.

The DA's Office needs new leadership, and there are two viable candidates for that task. One of them speaks more passionately about the problems that beset our community, but that doesn't mean the other doesn't grasp those needs as well. And only one has demonstrated lifelong durability.

The Triplicate continues to endorse Bob Drossel for district attorney.