After a long and heated campaign, the results are in: Joyce Dudley defeated rival Josh Lynn and won election Tuesday as Santa Barbara County’s next district attorney.
She received 31,811 votes, or 54.11 percent, compared with Lynn’s 26,791 votes, or 45.57 percent.
Dudley said her main goal upon taking over as district attorney will be to heal the scars left by what many considered to be a divisive contest.
“I think that I’ll be meeting with some people individually, some people in small groups, and some people in larger groups to see where the office is right now,” she told Noozhawk.
While the campaign had moments of acrimonious debate, both candidates said Tuesday evening — while waiting for the results to trickle in — that outside of their differences, the most important issue facing the District Attorney’s Office in the future is continued dedication to providing the best law enforcement possible.
During his post-election soiree, Lynn reflected on a tough campaign, in which both candidates had been accused at times of being a bit rough with each other.
“Elections are political events, but law enforcement is 24/7,” he said. “I’m proud to be involved in that, and I’m proud to have been a district attorney for 15 years.”
The big question, though, is what the interoffice dynamic will be within a politically divided office once Dudley settles into her new role. With rumors flying about that Lynn will be fired — a concern even he has expressed — Dudley said she is not yet sure whether she will keep him on staff.
“That’s contingent upon a conversation with him and others to see what’s in the best interest of the county,” she said, adding that after the stress of a hard campaign, she plans to travel to Utah on Wednesday to begin “hiking, biking, smelling the roses; not working on this campaign. I’ve been working on this campaign for a year.”
When asked how Dudley had succeeded in the race, campaign manager Brian Robinson said it came down to running a more positive campaign than Lynn, as well as working hard to get the word out in the North County, where Dudley is not as well known.
“Joyce is on boards and committees and is involved in the community; she really cares,” he said. “We ran a multidimensional campaign with TV and radio ads, mailers, calls and door-to-door visits.”
— Noozhawk staff writer Ben Preston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org