Former public defender runs for LA County District Attorney

Rachel Rossi is running her first campaign. She's a former public defender, born in New York and raised in the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California.

"I'm one of five siblings. We're all Dominican and Greek," said Rossi.

Before spending time in Washington D.C. working on criminal justice policy, she was a Los Angeles County and federal public defender.

"I think the thing that drove me, really to want to do more to reform the system was the racial disparities. And that was something common to both the county and the federal system," she said.

So, she's taking her shot at becoming the top prosecutor in Los Angeles County.

"I've had public defender friends say, 'how could you be a prosecutor? Aren't prosecutors ones that just throw people in jail?' And I've heard people on the other side say that 'you're a public defender, you don't care about safety',' " she said of critics on both sides.

Rossi points to mass incarceration as a key issue driving crime.

"Sometimes public safety means treating the issue, treating the mental health issue, the substance use issue, rather than just throwing someone in jail," Rossi said.

And she proposes a different approach to combat homelessness in Los Angeles County.

"As a prosecutor, I would consider a houselessness fraud task force that would investigate and prosecute the corporate landlords and developers who are using illegal tactics and fraudulent tactics to raise rents and evict people."

One of the biggest topics leading the three-way race is law enforcement accountability.

"What I would do is appoint independent prosecutors in cases where there's law enforcement use of force that results in death or great bodily injury," she said.

Rossi is the only candidate in the race without prosecutorial experience, and admits she's the underdog but considers it a strength.

"When I talk to people, they're tired of politicians, particularly when it comes to criminal justice in L.A County."
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