By Jennifer E. Beaver
In one of the livelier debates of the Long Beach election season, the two candidates for Long Beach city prosecutor volleyed verbally March 3 at a forum hosted by Long Beach Council PTA at Hughes Middle School. Doug Haubert, a contract prosecutor with the law firm Aleshire & Wynder, lost no time attacking opponent Long Beach Assistant City Prosecutor Timothy O’Reilly.
Haubert questioned O’Reilly’s claims to Long Beach residency and continually pushed him to comment on his record as a criminal defense attorney. “When I looked at who else was running, it was pretty clear that I needed to be in the race,” Haubert said. “Do we have to elect a person who represents violent criminals?”
Citing client confidentiality, O’Reilly refused to be riled and explained that his criminal defense experience was an asset. “As Americans, we believe in strong advocates for each side,” he said. “I automatically look at both, which allows me to present the most favorable case for the people.”
Haubert provides legal services to a number of cities and once served as the city prosecutor for Signal Hill, according the Aleshire & Wynder website. Prior to joining the firm, he was the deputy city prosecutor for Long Beach. “You’re working as a partner in a law firm,” said O’Reilly. “If you wanted to be a city prosecutor, why didn’t you stay?”
Haubert frequently mentioned his many endorsements, and O’Reilly suggested his opponent was a career politician. “The city needs a life-long leader, not someone beholden to special interests,” said O’Reilly, who became assistant city prosecutor in 2007. O’Reilly also served two tours in the Mideast and holds the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Army National Guard.
Asked about his department’s record in prosecuting code violations, O’Reilly said at a time of budget cuts it came down to a question of priorities between crime or trash. “That’s a cop-out,” said Haubert, invoking the broken window theory’s premise that blighted property leads to increased neglect and crime. “When budgets are tight we roll up our sleeves and work harder.” Haubert referred to code violations as “environmental crime.” His law firm’s website says Haubert is an expert in code enforcement prosecution.
After moderator Alan Tolkoff posed several questions regarding the city’s medical marijuana ordinance, the candidates determined that the prosecutor’s office may be called on to process zoning infractions. Other issues involving state and federal regulations fall outside the responsibility of the prosecutor’s office, which is charged with handling misdemeanors.
Long Beach City Prosecutor Tom Reeves will vacate his seat at the end of his term. Reeves is challenging incumbent Robert Shannon for the position of Long Beach city attorney. Elections for both races will be April 13.
Editor’s note: Reporter Jennifer Beaver is married to moderator Alan Tolkoff.