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Endorsement watch: Fertitta and Lykos

The Chron makes its endorsements in the two primary races for District Attorney. On the Democratic side, they make the easy and obvious call for Zack Fertitta.

Zack Fertitta

Zack Fertitta represents a new generation at the Harris County courthouse, and deserves to be the Democratic Party’s candidate for District Attorney. Youthful and energetic, Fertitta has an established history within county criminal justice circles, having served as a prosecutor, defense attorney and member of a grand jury. His breadth of experience shows when he talks about his plans for progress if elected district attorney, focusing on the future rather than the fights of the past.

Fertitta has an admirable drive to bring the DA’s office technologically up to date, with ideas for training prosecutors on search-and-seizure issues related to cell phones before that new area of privacy erupts into controversy. “Notions of digital privacy are really going to be the battlefield for the 21st century,” he told the Chronicle. And his plan to move the district attorney’s office from paper to digital files is a much-needed step that will save time and money in the long run.

There was never any question about this one, as the two candidates are worlds apart in terms of qualifications and experience. It was more interesting to see how they’d choose on the Republican side, with two candidates of roughly equal heft. In the end they chose to stay the course with Pat Lykos.

DA Pat Lykos

The two combatants, and we use the term advisedly, are the incumbent, District Attorney Pat Lykos, and her challenger, former prosecutor and criminal court judge Mike Anderson. We recommend a vote for Pat Lykos.

While both wear the Republican label proudly and genuinely, their views about the current state, and future direction, of the DA’s office, the nexus of criminal justice in Harris County, are as far apart as, well, Orange is from El Paso. The tone of a recent joint screening visit with the Houston Chronicle editorial board was testy and confrontational. Worthy of a well-argued courtroom trial, if we may say.

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When it comes to qualifications for office, this race is a virtual dead heat. But two factors tip our endorsement call definitively to Pat Lykos. She’s an outsider, and following the Rosenthal debacle, that’s what the DA’s office needs. Over the past three and a half years she’s made good on her promise to begin reforming the culture of an important department that had descended to the level of “Animal House.” We see no good reason to change course. While recognizing Mike Anderson’s strengths, we commend Pat Lykos to voters in the GOP primary.

As I’ve said, I’ve got no dog in that fight. Sometimes you know which candidate you want to be your opponent, but I don’t know who I’d pick in this race. I’m as interested as anyone to see who emerges from that election.

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