District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg is working hard to reflect our progressive values in office. We enthusiastically endorse her for re-election and urge you to vote for her.
Lehmberg has earned another term in the DA's office, owing to her work to not only prosecute violent offenders, but also implement and expand progressive programs that reflect our community values. As a reflection of her strong first term as DA, Lehmberg has been endorsed by every single Democratic club in Austin, The Austin Chronicle, and a wide range of community leaders. We are happy to add our voices to those calling for her re-election.
Here is just some of what Lehmberg has accomplished in her first term, which demonstrate her commitment to our shared progressive causes:
- Deferred Prosecution Program: Lehmberg established a new deferred prosecution program to give first offenders a second chance. We'd like to see this program expanded in a second term.
Fighting Wrongful Convictions: Lehmberg partnered with the Innocence Project at UT's Law School to conduct post-conviction DNA testing and is participating in a field study of new eyewitness identification procedures to prevent false ID's. She has been endorsed by Dallas County DA Craig Watkins, a national leader in these efforts.
Environmental Prosecutions: Lehmberg is successfully prosecuting large-scale environmental polluters and collecting millions in fines.
Public Integrity Unit: Lehmberg has showed the balance and temperament necessary to keep a Republican legislature funding an office that prosecutes their own members.
Hate Crimes Task Force: Lehmberg is deeply involved in the newly created Hate Crimes Task Force which works with the City, APD, and County to directly address bias-motivated crimes as they happen and work to foster increased safety in targeted communities.
As an openly gay woman Lehmberg provides a role model for the LGBT community — and all women in law enforcement — demonstrating that their sex and sexuality need not limit their professional advancement. Furthermore, we do not find fault with Lehmberg's lengthy experience in the DA's office. However, we encourage her to continue to look closely at the programs of her predecessor — who, admittedly, was in that office for a long time — and continue to look for ways to improve the office so that it strives to provide the most fair and equitable justice as possible.
Lehmberg's opponent, Charlie Baird, has an impressive career as a progressive jurist. On the campaign trail, Baird has highlighted some serious discontent with the criminal justice system in our minority communities, and in a second term we'd like to see Lehmberg do even more to address those complaints, working in concert with the Commissioner's Court, the Sheriff's office, and especially the Austin Police Department. Criminal justice reform is not the sole responsibility of one individual, and our entire community needs to proactively address these issues, even if it's uncomfortable.
However, while Baird was an exceedingly liberal jurist and remains a die-hard Democrat, we do not feel comfortable putting him in charge of the DA's office. Baird retired from the criminal bench in 2011 (Judge Karen Sage now sits on that court) and so we found it rather head-spinning when he declared for DA so shortly into his retirement. Baird has been quick to criticize the DA's office, however many of the reforms Baird has proposed on the trail have already been tried by the DA's office to no avail.
Additionally, we have serious concerns about Baird's campaign, which appears to be actively working to foster distrust in our entire criminal justice system. While there are clearly areas where Travis County can improve in minority incarceration — and we thank Baird for emphasizing those — at times his campaign missives seem more inclined to incite a riot than persuade voters.
Lehmberg is doing an excellent job, and deserves a second term to keep her good work going. We encourage her to remain open to community feedback, and continue working to make the Travis County DA's office a reflection of our community values. We also encourage her to “toot her own horn” more often, to share these good works with our wider community.
We enthusiastically endorse Rosemary Lehmberg for re-election as District Attorney.
Early Voting: May 14-May 25 | Election Day: May 29
Click here for Travis County Early Voting locations.
Endorsements are made based on a weighted consensus of the staff, which guides the type and tone of endorsement. Members of the Burnt Orange Report staff employed by campaigns abstain from voting on those races.