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June 25, 2019
Contact: Robert Tracci Campaign

Statement of Robert N. Tracci Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney 2019 Campaign Re-Election Announcement

Statement of Robert N. Tracci
Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney
2019 Campaign Re-Election Announcement
June 25, 2019

           

Thank you.

            Gil, thank you for the kind introduction.

            I am grateful you are here, and grateful on behalf of our broader community.  You transformed indescribable grief into a call for action; action into awareness; awareness into prevention; and prevention into public safety.  You show compassion toward victims. Your efforts have made our Commonwealth safer, and we are inspired by your courage and determination. I am honored by your support and look forward to working with Help Save the Next Girl and its 93 chapters on common challenges that lie ahead.

Thank you Gil Harrington.

            And I wish to thank Sheriff Harding.  For a lifetime of service to Charlottesville and our community.  It is a personal and professional privilege to work with Chip on a range of issues including DNA enhancement and improvements to our criminal justice system.  He was an architect of our local drug court.  He is a defender of justice, who is principled and fearless. Our community is grateful for your decades of service, and I am proud of your support.

Thank you Chip.

            Pleased to see many supporters.  Members of community, City and County, who I have the privilege of knowing and serving. Thank you all for being here.

            Four years ago, I announced my candidacy for Commonwealth’s Attorney from this courthouse. 

            I spoke to importance of upholding law without regard to zip code or income, race or ethnicity, gender or social status, or whether you live on UVA Grounds or off.

I pledged to uphold the dignity of the office.

To exercise the humility that comes with prosecution.

And recognition that legitimacy of the office flows from the fair and faithful application of the law.

To seek justice by applying the law fairly on behalf of our citizens. 

And four years later, I am proud to have kept faith with this charge.

As I stood before you then, I emphasized the importance of attaching greater priority to protecting children. With increased cooperation from law enforcement partners and the Albemarle County Police Department, we have seen the number of child exploitation and solicitation cases rise substantially, and our children are safer for it. 

I spoke to the importance of holding sex offenders accountable, wherever they commit their crimes.  Working with Sexual Assault Resource Agency, our jurisdiction became the first in the Commonwealth to include a Title IX representative in our area Sexual Assault Response Team.  Our work became a model throughout the Commonwealth.  And while work remains, notifications and prosecutions increased as a result.

I expressed hope that Albemarle County should be the best place to retire, and the safest.   Working with area partners from the public and private sector, Tina Robertson from Albemarle Adult Protective Service and other state, federal and local partners, we established the Jefferson Area Coalition to End Elder Abuse.  Albemarle Police Chief Lantz dedicated a full time elder abuse detective to assist this effort, and the number of cases we have brought has increased substantially as a result.  The Task Force drafted and helped secure passage of bipartisan legislation to make our seniors safer, and comes into force  next week.  We will continue to hold accountable those who exploit our seniors in nursing homes, assisted living facilities or elsewhere.

I emphasized importance of accountability for those who commit violent crime against citizens.  We established the first Multijurisdiction Grand Jury in Central Virginia to facilitate investigation and prosecution of violent offenses, including the first commercial sex trafficking in Albemarle County.  We also brought four violent gang members to justice for a brutal MS-13 murder on July 3, 2017.  And our work continues.    

            I spoke of the importance of proactive efforts to prevent crime and free the innocent through DNA technology. Working with Sheriff Harding, Susan and John Graham, Gil Harrington, Delegates Toscano, Bell, and Landes, we expanded the DNA databank to solve crimes while exonerating the innocent.  Thank you Chip Harding.

            I also discussed the importance of alternative dockets and noncriminal options for non-violent low-level criminal offenders. 

I have continued support for the Charlottesville Albemarle Drug Court, and supported efforts to expand its reach.

And worked with Sexual Assault Resource Agency to increase awareness and prevention efforts.

I became an Executive Committee member of the Gang Reduction Through Active Community Engagement, or GRACE. 

And with area partners, including Dr. Herb Stewart from Western State Hospital, the City of Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney, Region 10, and many others, I am proud to have helped lead creation of a Therapeutic Mental Health Docket.

For the first time in our area, this docket provides low-level offenders mental health treatment they need, not the jail time they do not.  

Four years later, I am proud to announce we have delivered on these commitments. But more work remains.

And for that reason, I am proud to announce that I am a candidate for  Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney. 

In some of the last few years, the number of violent crimes increased substantially, and we have sought justice for victims and families. 

Some of these cases have made headlines, most have not.

            To some, crime is a mere statistic, an abstraction. 

But behind every crime is a victim or family who deserves justice

Simply put, it is not compassionate to ignore victims of crime by ignoring or pledging not to prosecute crime.  

True humility lies as a prosecutor lies in fairly applying the law; not willfully disregarding it.

With prosecution comes accountability. 

With accountability comes deterrence. 

With deterrence comes community safety.

And with safety comes the dignity owed to all citizens to live without fear in their homes and communities.

I will never forget this, and make no apology for seeking justice against those who exploit the vulnerable, attack the weak, or offend against our laws and citizens. 

If re-elected, I will continue to seek reforms to our criminal justice system.

To continue to work with Chip and others on DNA enhancement.

To seek a bright line rule against driving under the influence of marijuana.

And to continue ways to be proactive about preventing and reducing crimes. 

            And to reduce recidivism by making sure those who serve their time are given an opportunity to succeed once they have completed their sentence.

             Improving re-entry programs ensures that those who serve time for their offenses have faith and confidence to return to society with genuine opportunity and hope for their future.

            This approach is not weak on crime; it is smart on crime reduction.

This requires support for training and re-entry programs, and renewed commitment from the General Assembly and local officials

            And I intend to use the voice of this office in reform efforts.

One such program is Pastor Washington’s Bridge Ministry, with whom our office has been pleased to work and whose success in this field is inspiring and affirming. I continue to work with The Bridge and other programs to reduce recidivism in our community.

The last few years tested our community and values like never before. 

Our community and law enforcement responded to hatred and violence with unity and resolve.

 As Pastor Alvin Edwards made clear, we must never allow ourselves to be

defined by those who hate us and our values. 

            White supremacy came to divide our community, but only unified us. 

            They sought to undermine our institutions, but affirmed their resilience. 

They came to break our spirit, but only strengthened it.   

We sought lawful accountability, not unprincipled vengeance. 

Our work remains undone but our community withstood an awful test.  And we emerged stronger.

 As Albemarle Commonwealth’s Attorney, I will continue to seek justice on behalf of all our citizens

And I will never lose sight of the fact that the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office belongs to you, the citizens of Albemarle County, nobody else. 

            It does not belong to those who seek to ignore the laws we have an obligation to uphold.

            It does not belong to those who would bring a political agenda to an office that should and must remain above politics.

            It does not belong to those who want to be legislators not prosecutors.

            Whose notion of criminal justice does not give full voice to the victims of crime.

It does not belong to those who would make prosecution decisions based on outside political pressure.

            Rather, this office requires recognition that that the legitimacy of a prosecutor rests in respecting and fairly applying the duly-enacted laws of the Commonwealth.

Who prosecutes criminal conduct, not the identity of defendants.

            Who brings cases based on the facts, law, and evidence, not partisan pressure.

            Who upholds the oath of office to support the Constitution of the United States and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

            Who acknowledges our past, while affirming the fundamental goodness of our Commonwealth, our country, and a system of justice that stands above all others on Earth.

            A leader who hears and respects all voices, not only the loudest or the angriest.

            Money in politics has been a feature of the U.S. political system for some time.

            But only recently has it become a major force in local races for prosecutors who swear an oath to faithfully apply to law.

            A prosecutor has discretion, but no authority to ignore the law.

            That is what is at stake in this election.

Massive, direct campaign donations to local prosecutor races imperil public confidence in the even application of our laws.

And big money contributions raise questions about what is expected in return.

            As a result, I will not seek, nor will I accept, any campaign support from any individual or attorney with any matter before the office of Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney.

And I proudly affirm this pledge: my oath to support the law will not waver.

The principle of Equal Justice Under Law is not negotiable.

And the office I am privileged to lead is not for sale .

For $50, $500, $5,000, $50,000, or any other price.

So as I begin this effort, I ask for your help and for your support. 

Your commitment and your resolve. 

The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office belongs to you.

In America, every voter has an equal voice on election day.

If re-elected, I will continue to uphold the law to the best of my ability.

To defend the Constitution of the United States and Commonwealth of Virginia

And to uphold the dignity and trust of this office, to the best of my ability, so help me God.

 

Thank you.

Download a copy of the statement here.