Civil rights attorney Pamela Price will be sworn in as the first Black district attorney in Alameda County on Jan. 3 following a close election race that first had her trailing behind her challenger and longtime county prosecutor Terry Wiley.
Price, who will be only the second woman after outgoing DA Nancy O'Malley to helm the office, defeated Wiley, the county's chief deputy DA, by more than 6% of the vote, according to the latest election numbers from the county.
Price will also serve as the county's DA for six years instead of four following the passage of California Assembly Bill 759, which was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in September.
"This is a significant moment in Alameda County’s history. The voters have ushered in change in the county sheriff’s office and now the DA’s office," Price said in the news release from her campaign. "The next six years of my term will be full of meaningful changes to reform the criminal justice system."
Price was referring to change in the Alameda County Sheriff's Office because Cmdr. Yesenia Sanchez defeated the incumbent Sheriff-Coroner, Greg Ahern, in the June 7 primary election.
According to Price's news release, she had called Wiley on Nov. 20 where he proceeded to concede the race and pledge his support for a smooth transition of power.
"I look forward to a smooth transition and know the office has professionals who are hopeful the long-awaited change of reform would come to fix racial, gender and socio-economic disparities and double standards,” Price said. "I appreciate the call from Mr. Wiley and his offer to aid in the transition. I look forward to speaking with Ms. O’Malley as soon as possible. At the end of the day, we all want the same goal and understand how important it is to have a full faith transition."
During this transitional period, Price has assembled a team of, "award-winning attorneys with expertise in criminal justice, respected community leaders and representatives" to help begin establishing changes and goals for the future.
According to the Nov. 21 election results report from the Alameda County Registrar of Voters' Office -- the final major tally update expected from the county -- Price had 53.14% (228,721 votes) to Wiley's 46.86% (201,676 votes). The margin of votes is now 27,045, according to the update from the county.
The total tally of voter turnout countywide as of now is 53.23%, including vote-by-mail ballots received before Election Day and votes cast in-person, according to the county's election data. The total number of ballots cast is reported to be 495,599.
While the next results update won't be until closer to Dec. 8, which is when the county must officially certify the election, the vast majority of the ballots have been counted, according to a county spokesperson.
According to the county, 32,000 out of the nearly 500,000 ballots in the county were cast in person and were counted on Election Night. The rest were mail-in ballots that were processed since that Tuesday.
The Nov. 21 update from the county included the bulk of the remaining votes but there are another 2,500 that need signatures cured across Alameda County.
This runoff election for the district attorney seat was a significant one for voters as it was the first time in decades that residents elected someone who wasn't an incumbent originally appointed to the position.
The district attorney oversees more than 150 attorneys whose job is to prosecute all criminal, civil and juvenile cases in the county. They also set policy on jail and prison time and how much incarceration time should be given for cases related to drug use or mental illness.
They also investigate and decide whether or not to criminally charge law enforcement officers accused of misconduct.
The contest was wide open this year after O'Malley announced in 2021 she would be stepping down when her current third term in office ends after this year. O'Malley had not faced an opponent in reelection until 2018, when Price unsuccessfully challenged.
Wiley and Price were the frontrunners during a close primary race in June, which ended with Price in the lead with 43.23% of the vote among four on the ballot.
Wiley then took a slim lead over Price on Election Night at 51.68% to 48.32%. The following Monday night's election results update showed Wiley maintaining a lead with 51.52% of votes to Price's 48.48%.
But Price had remained hopeful, which paid off when she took her first lead on Nov. 15 and since then, every update has strengthened her lead until she officially declared victory once the county updated its numbers with a significant bulk of ballots on Nov. 20.
"I want to thank my family and everyone who supported me in my campaign, including my volunteers and everyone who voted for me. Although I expected a different result, I’m grateful for everyone’s support," Wiley told the Weekly in a statement. "I congratulate Pamela Price on becoming Alameda County’s first-ever African American District Attorney. I look forward to working with Pamela in her transition to District Attorney."
He added that while he saw his goals and ideals aligning more with residents in Alameda County who wanted a change in the office, the fact that he has been a part of the office for several decades now might have played a part in voters swaying with Price instead of him.
He said that in terms of the transition, he plans to help Price get her footing in what he calls a very complex agency so that they can continue to serve the people of the county that he loves.
Price has run her own civil rights litigation practice for roughly three decades and has advocated throughout her campaign for criminal justice reform by creating a justice system that offers solutions to reducing crime other than incarceration.
Some of those solutions include jail diversion and restorative justice programs for young offenders.
"There are so many layers of changes needed and it will take time to turn the wheels of justice in the right direction, but I am confident that our ideas, plans and principles will be the guideposts in that journey of change," Price said.
Price launched her campaign almost two years ago and had engaged a broad coalition of community groups and leaders who supported Price and her goal of wanting to fix what she considered a broken system.
She said that this election was about implementing significant change in how justice works in the county.
"The double standards and racial disparities were palpable to the voters and they could see the old approach has not led us to greater public safety," Price said. "They did not trust the status quo to change itself, and real public safety requires public trust."
Throughout her campaign, she had garnered endorsements from Planned Parenthood Advocates of Mar Monte, Smart Justice and California Nurses Association as well as a long list of democratic clubs, justice focused organizations and worker’s unions.
"I am so grateful to my amazing campaign team, my campaign manager and our communications director who worked tirelessly to make sure voters understood what was really and truthfully at stake in this race," Price said. "I am so thankful for every vote I received. We will use it as fuel to drive the change the county so desperately needs."