Contra Costa District Attorney Robert Kochly made it official last night: He will not seek re-election to a fourth term.
Kochly spoke at last night’s campaign kick-off event for the man he has endorsed as his replacement, private attorney and former judge and prosecutor Dan O’Malley.
Kochly’s plan to retire has been one of the worst-kept secrets in Contra Costa politics. He still has more than year left to serve in his term and didn’t want to spend it as a lame duck.
But his potential replacements have started their campaigns and Kochly’s silence was proving awkward, particularly for friend O’Malley. Contra Costa is a big county and it will take every minute between now and the June 2010 election to raise the money and name identification required to win.
My Times colleague Malaika Fraley went to hear Kochly’s announcement (I was at the Contra Costa Mayors Conference in Oakley) and filed this report:
Contra Costa County District Attorney Robert Kochly announced Thursday he is retiring from the office when his term ends in December 2010.
“I didn’t think I would serve more than two terms when I started, but you get attached to the job and the people,” said Kochly, 62, who joined the District Attorney’s Office in 1973. “It’s just time.”
Kochly was elected district attorney in 2002 and re-elected in 2006. He announced his retirement late Thursday through an e-mail to his staff and publicly at a campaign party for district attorney candidate Dan O’Malley, a private attorney who previously worked as a Contra Costa County judge and prosecutor.
Kochly said he will continue to focus on managing the office’s unprecedented fiscal crisis for the remainder of his term.
Kochly announced in April that the office would have to slash misdemeanor prosecutions by 45 percent to account for $1.9 million in proposed cuts that would force the layoffs of 20 percent of prosecuting attorneys. He and county supervisors are holding ongoing meetings to find funding sources.
“I still have 15 months, so hopefully we’ll be in better position than we are now,” Kochly said. “If I had my druthers I wouldn’t have announced (my retirement) yet, but I understand there’s others chomping at the bit.”
Deputy District attorney John Cope, who has worked with Kochly for 18 years, said the office will miss Kochly’s dedication to public service.
“To work that hard, so consistently, for 37 years — it’s a very impressive legacy, one that’s hard to match,” Cope said.
Here’s more of what Fraley send me about the kick-off party:
There were between 300 and 400 people at the country club, a veritable who’s who in Contra Costa law enforcement, including police chiefs, judges and attorneys.
O’Malley appeared to be really moved by the support. He took a picture of the crowd with his camera while on stage. Former District Attorney Gary Yancey, Rupf and Kochly all addressed the crowd, speaking of O’Malley’s virtues and why they think he’s be a good district attorney.
There was a few funny moments.
Dan told the crowd that he asked to father Bill O’Malley, Contra Costa County’s District Attorney from 1968 to 1984, to be the master of ceremonies. The elder O’Malley asked, “Do I have to wear long pants?”
Sure enough, the senior O’Malley wore khaki cargo shorts and wasn’t “working” at the party.
Before Rupf sang O’Malley’s praises, he ribbed Kochly by sharing what former Alameda County Sheriff Charlie Plummer said to him when Rupf announced his retirement last month:
“Well, from one has-been to another, welcome,” Rupf said.
“Thanks,” Kochly said flatly.
Rupf got another laugh, this one was pretty awkward, during his speech.
“We need district attorneyss in the model of Bill O’Malley, Gary Yancey and Bob Kochly that are honorable men….and women,” Rupf said.
Kochly said he he didn’t want to announce his retirement so soon because he doesn’t want anyone to think he has one foot out the door.
Kochly said he is completely focused on managing the fiscal crisis in his late 15 months. “I don’t want to be a lame duck,” he said.