Assistant District Attorney Michael Hestrin has announced his intentions to challenge Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach in the next election. Just three years ago, June 2010, Zellerbach, a Superior Court Judge, unseated Rod Pacheco, the incumbent district attorney.
Hestrin is the attorney who prosecuted Raymond Oyler for arson and murder in the Esperanza Fire in 2009.
“The current administration absolutely lacks leadership,” Hestrin said in a phone interview explaining why he is entering the political fray. “Day-to-day morale has never been worse — not only the attorneys, but investigators and office core, too.
“This is unacceptable behavior in a public servant. The representation and safety of the people of Riverside County should never be jeopardized by treating the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office as a political machine to benefit my opponent and his friends. It is up to us, together, to transform the values of District Attorney’s Office to justice, integrity, and ethics, not politics. The time for change in the Riverside DA’s office has come,” he has posted on his website.
Hestrin, a Stanford Law School graduate, has been with the DA’s office for 15 years. During that time, he tried nearly 100 cases, including several death penalty trials. He received numerous awards and headed the Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Association. He is still a working district attorney with cases to prosecute, but sometime within the next year he will take a leave of absence to campaign full time.
He plans to visit cities throughout the county, including Idyllwild, he said.
“Public safety concerns me,” Hestrin said. “Paul Zellerbach is not protecting the public.”