Building a Better Commonwealth’s Attorney

The City of Portsmouth has a constitutional officer vacancy to fill in a special election set to occur on Tuesday, February 10, 2015. The former occupant of the position, the Honorable Earle Mobley, moved into a judgeship for the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on December 1 of last year. (See the Mobley profile from Pilotonline for more information.) With three years left on his term of office, the judges of the Portsmouth Circuit Court issued a Writ of Election late last month to enable the citizenry to select a replacement. Three candidates for the position qualified to make the run. Two of them, Stephanie Morales and Ali Sprinkle, have current or past experience, respectively, in the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office. The third, Michael “Mike” Rosenberg, points with pride to his lengthy career as a trial attorney. From what evidence has come our way to date, we consider each a worthy contender for the position. Over the next week or so, intends to spend time getting to know all of them better. We intend to share the results of our research with the public in the form of video interviews.

One factor we consider, in the immortal words of storied TV lawyer Perry Mason, “irrelevant, incompetent, and immaterial” in assessing the qualifications of the respective candidates is their racial heritage. As with the Iraq war, victory over racism in America was declared prematurely. We have already seen hints of its presence in these early days of the election season. That is not to say that the candidates themselves will be injecting the “race factor” into the discussion. Historically, it has been the tool of the power brokers and “king/queenmakers”, who employ it as part of a cynical “divide-and-rule” strategy that keeps them in control by playing on the fears and jealousies of the public at large. We would do well to follow Carole King’s advice from “You’ve Got a Friend”: “Now ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend / When people can be so cold? / They’ll hurt you, yes and desert you / And take your soul if you let them / Oh, but don’t you let them.”

Right, don’t any of us let “them” take our souls. Instead, let us seek out relevant evidence with which to make the case for electing an effective, capable, fair-minded, chief prosecutor concerned with protecting the entire community. We, the people of Portsmouth, are ultimately responsible for getting “the facts, ma’am, just the facts” and evaluating them for ourselves before we bubble in our choices on February 10.

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