Monday, January 23, 2012/lk
Hood River attorney Brian Aaron announced Monday he will run for Hood River County District Attorney in the May Primary Election.
Aaron ran for the nonpartisan office in 2000 against former resident Donna Kelly and District Attorney John Sewell, who still holds the office.
"I have 12 more years of wisdom under my belt," said Aaron, 52. "I've gained the experience of 12 years of working in the system, continuing to work in public service and gaining a better grasp of how the system works."
Aaron graduated from Santa Clara University law school in 1988. He started with an Oakland, Calif., law firm and went to work in 1990 for the Metropolitan Public Defenders office in Portland before moving to Hood River in 1991 and starting Aaron and Associates in 1992.
Aaron said that in 1999 when he first decided to run for office, "I was still pretty green, pretty wet behind the ears. But what's frustrating is I still see the same issues. I've been in this community over 20 years and I see the same issues coming up.
"Even though we're in a time of cutting back on expenses and services, the DA office still has the opportunity to offer more and I believe the citizens deserve more. I've seen it dealing with many other counties through my practice," he said.
"I want to bring programs and practices that I saw were working successfully in other counties to Hood River County," Aaron said.
"These include a victim offender reconciliation program, providing assistance to individuals in enforcing child support orders to ensure children are provided for.
"Enforcing county ordinances has a direct impact on the quality of life in our community members," Aaron said. He would work closely with the county juvenile department and school district to reduce juvenile delinquency and recidivism and emphasize educating youth about the negative impact that alcohol and drugs have on their futures as well as others.
"You start making decisions at 14 you think will have no impact on your life later on," said Aaron, who said he was kicked out of high school at age 17, with no diploma, and went to work as a carpenter. He later earned his diploma and his associate degree from Cabrillo Community College in Santa Cruz and a bachelor's degree in political science at San Francisco State University.
"Your record does follow you; but more important, decisions made can start to limit what you do with your life," Aaron said
Getting youth educated helps them to understand "there are consequences of their actions," Aaron said.
Expanding victim-offender reconciliation efforts is important in Hood River, Aaron said, "because of it being a small community, victims and offenders are much more likely to run into each other.
"In many situations, especially first-time offenders, they do feel remorseful and wish to make restitution, financial or otherwise, and one way of doing that is getting the victim and offender to sort of mediate," he said.
Aaron wants closer cooperation between the DA's office and defense attorneys in coordinating education, treatment, anger management and other ways through parole and probation that Aaron said "involve people in activities that hopefully will reduce recidivism and hopefully save the county money from having to re-incarcerate these people.
"It's a matter of streamlining the system," he said. "The DA's office does a decent job at this but I think we can do better." Aaron said one way to do that is to have materials ready, such as discovery (evidence and documents for trial) and pre-trial offers.
"The state doesn't have a live body as a client, he may have a victim to represent, but defense counsel has a live body, with issues such as poverty, substance abuse, mental health or under-education.
"Getting materials to defense counsel - as much as possible as early as possible - allows them to have time to work with the clients to understand as much as they can in their case and hopefully to facilitate better negotiation with the prosecution, and overall reduce the recidivism rate," Aaron said, adding that the goal is to save money by reducing defendants' multiple appearances.