Harris County District Attorney Candidates Debate Each Other

From left to right: Democratic candidate Lloyd Oliver and Republican candidate Mike Anderson.
In one of the more high profile local races, candidates for Harris County District Attorney recently faced each other. Organizers of the event call it the first debate since Democratic candidate Lloyd Oliver fought off his party's attempt to remove him from the ballot.

The debate was long, and the differences between the positions and styles of the two candidates were significant too. On one side, you have Republican candidate Mike Anderson.  The former judge and assistant district attorney leaned forward into the podium and talked forcefully. Anderson talked about the importance of changing, what he says, is selective enforcement of the law in the current District Attorney's office.

"That's the main reason that I'm running for District Attorney, because I want to fix what's broken there. There is a bad, bad problem between law enforcement and the District Attorney's office. That needs to be fixed."

On the other side, Democrat candidate Lloyd Oliver banged the podium when he made a point and scribbled notes onto a manila file folder. Oliver, a criminal defense attorney, talked about priorities.

"But a crack pipe case, it's called trace amounts. My opponent, he wants to prosecute those as a felony. I don't. I want to prosecute those as a paraphernalia case, a class C misdemeanor maybe, or some form of misdemeanor."

But on some crimes Oliver doesn't want leniency. A break-in, he says, should be a first-degree felony, 20 to life.  And on other issues, like domestic violence, he sees no reason to litigate if neither side wants to pursue something. Oliver talked about a pending case he's working on right now.

"You two idiots if you want to fight, go get in the ring somewhere and leave us taxpayers out of it. Your children don't need to see this. But whoever wins, whatever you guys do with it, that's your guys business."

But Anderson disagreed

"And the law says if a person is a victim of domestic violence then that case should be vigorously prosecuted. And it should be looked at, and we don't make a decision based on what taxpayer dollars are going to do. It's about public safety folks."

Earlier this summer, Anderson defeated the incumbent District Attorney Pat Lykos for the GOP nomination. In the Democratic primary, Oliver beat out former assistant district attorney, Zack Fertitta. One thing that both candidates can agree on is that they'd like to win the support of current District Attorney Pat Lykos. But as far as some basics about the job, the two can't even agree there. Here's Mike Anderson.

"And a prosecutor's job is not to get a conviction. It's not what it says in the law. The law says it is to do justice, and if justice means a dismissal then that is what you do."

Democratic candidate Lloyd Oliver disagreed.

"Probably it's been so long since my opponent read the oath: it's to convict and do justice. Maybe that's part of the problem."

Nowhere in the current oath of office does it say the job of a district attorney is to convict, as Oliver asserts. The oath states that the district attorney "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this State."