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Josh Katcher: Why you should vote for me

Josh Katcher, candidate for Commonwealth’s Attorney, at the Arlington Democrats meeting in January (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Last week, we invited the candidates running in competitive races in the June 20 Democratic primary to write a post about why Arlington residents should vote for them. Find information on how and where to vote here.

Below is the unedited response from Josh Katcher, challenger for the office of Commonwealth’s Attorney for Arlington County and the City of Falls Church.

I am a lifelong Democrat who believes in public safety. I am also a reform prosecutor who believes that we can create a fair and equitable local criminal justice system that  respects victims. However, that possibility is rapidly slipping away because the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney is in free fall. In the past 18 months, 14 attorneys have quit, and there are 9 fully-funded attorney positions that remain unfilled.

My campaign commitment is “Real Reform, Real Justice.” Real Reform views cases through a contextualized and humanized lens, rather than looking at incarceration as the only tool to wield.  It connects individuals who desperately need services and programs to treat underlying issues with an eye towards diversion. Think of matters involving kids doing kid things, the mentally ill, the homeless, the addicted.  It means not prosecuting simple marijuana cases and opposing the death penalty.   However, Real Reform does not shy away from aggressive and unapologetic prosecutions for offenses such as murder, rape, robbery, major drug dealing, and serious gun charges.

Real Justice means embracing, not just giving lip service to, the belief that justice for victims is bedrock in our judicial system. It means unequivocally upholding the constitutional rights of the accused. It means always remaining focused on just and equitable outcomes for the convicted.\

But the promise of 21st century reform prosecution requires more than just good intentions and slick talking points; it requires the relevant experience to lead and train a team of prosecutors in this complicated task. I have that experience.

I have been a local prosecutor for the past 11 years. I have practiced in every court, been in front of every judge, and collaborated with all our local law enforcement agencies. I have tried hundreds of bench trials and over 50 jury trials. My opponent has not personally prosecuted a *single* case since taking office.

Last August, I made the difficult decision to quit a job I loved, because I had lost faith in the leadership and management of the office. Prior to doing so, I was the Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney supervising the largest team in the office. Specifically, my opponent entrusted me to train up our next generation of reform prosecutors.

Over the past 11 years, I have served as president of the Arlington County Bar Association and as a member of the Virginia State Bar Council. I have often been invited to train prosecutors, defense attorneys, and police officers on the law across the state. I have been fighting for Democratic values my entire life. I have served as a local precinct captain twice, the head of voter registration, a member of our local Democratic Steering Committee, and a host of other roles.

As your Commonwealth’s Attorney, I will not retreat to the corner office when I’m elected. I will be in court on our most serious cases. I will handle cases from our juvenile justice docket. And I can and will pull my prosecutors off the line and handle their dockets myself when they need relief.

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