Michael Acosta's Formal Announcement of Candidacy for District Attorney

From Michael Acosta/March 28, 2022, 10:51 a.m.







     Hello, my name is Michael Philip Acosta. Jr., and I am one of three candidates for the office of District Attorney in the June 7, 2022 election. I’m running a grassroots campaign, which means that I will not actively solicit endorsements or financial contributions, hold pep rallies on the courthouse steps, bother you with election phone calls, reinforce the memorization of my name with redundant television, radio, and social media ads, or ask permission to litter your front yards with corrugated plastic campaign signs. However, I’ll be 52 years old this year, and since I relocated to Humboldt County only 20 years ago, I would like you to have a better idea of who I am, where I come from, and how I arrived here to be running for District Attorney of Humboldt County, insofar as it is relevant to my intentions.

     I am of Irish-Mexican descent. My Irish half comes from my mother Ann Acosta, nee Callahan, who was born in Connecticut of Irish immigrants, moved to Glendale, CA as a child, and met my father while attending East Los Angeles College. My Mexican half comes from my father Michael, Sr., who was born in East Los Angeles of Mexican immigrants and attended the same college as my mother before receiving his Ph. D. in Educational Philosophy from Claremont-McKenna College. Both of my parents worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District for their entire careers; my mother as a bilingual ESL teacher, and my father as the Director of Teacher Recruitment and Selection for LAUSD. Being educators, the value they placed on education was second only to the value they placed on family, and so they financed, and refinanced, all four of their children through college.

I came along in October of 1970 as their second child and first son. We lived in Tujunga, CA until I was in fourth grade, when my parents moved us to Huntington Beach, CA. I graduated from Huntington Beach High School in 1988, where I was the Junior Class president and then Associated Student Body president during my senior year. I balanced academics with athletics, and was a four-year varsity letterman in cross-country (CIF Sunset League Champions in 1985). I was also a fairly quick one-miler in track & field and won the freshman/sophomore Sunset League Championship by posting a 4:36 mile. I was the only varsity letterman to rank in the top ten academic students in my graduating class of over 650 students, and I graduated high school with 40 advance placement units towards college, with ten of them being from independent study. I was recognized by Apple Computers as one of Orange County’s most outstanding students in 1988, and was the only senior from HBHS to gain admission to Stanford University that year.

     In my junior year at Stanford, I took the Law School Admissions Test, scored in the 97th percentile, and was accepted to Stanford Law School. So, with my AP units and summer school units from Orange Coast College and UCLA, I was able to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science in just 3 years, saving my family a whole year’s tuition. While at SLS, I did clinical work at the East Palo Alto Community Law Project and helped edit the Stanford Environmental Law Journal. I was only 23 years old when I graduated from Stanford Law School, being the youngest graduate in the SLS class of ‘94. From there, I returned to southern California and accepted a public service fellowship in President Clinton’s Americorps program, which included about 40 law school graduates nationally. My Americorps assignment was at the East Los Angeles office of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, where I worked in the Community Economic Development Unit. After completing my three year fellowship, I ventured out to discover America, and ended up in South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation working for Dakota Plains Legal Services. After a couple years, I became the managing attorney of the Pine Ridge office at DPLS. It was at an Indian Law conference in Berkeley, CA in the year 2000 that I was recruited by California Indian Legal Services to come to back to California as a staff attorney in its Eureka, CA office. I had also met attorneys from DNA Legal Services on the Navajo-Hopi reservations, and had received an offer of employment from their Executive Director to work in the Window Rock, Arizona office. Either move would have put me closer to my family, but I accepted the offer from CILS to come to Humboldt County because I felt landlocked in South Dakota. I missed the surf and sandy beaches of the Pacific Ocean.

     Since 2001, I have lived and worked in Humboldt, and have called it my home, although, truth be told, I will always feel a bit like an outsider. That’s just something a transplant has to accept about Humboldt culture. Nonetheless, this is where my 9 year-old son was born and is being raised, and I care about the quality of life and the degree of public safety that each of us experiences here. What I see happening in Humboldt County is public concern about the increase in violent crime and public frustration about the increase in crimes against private property during the last 8 years. Private property is stolen or damaged every hour in our County, yet we all get the feeling that property crimes just aren’t a priority for our local justice system. How many of us have experienced damage or loss to our personal property due to theft or vandalism? How many of us feel that we are safer in our public streets than we were 8 years ago? How many of us take more care to lock our doors and windows when we are inside of our own homes than we did 8 years ago?

     The good news is, that there are solutions. Some of the safest countries in the world, like New Zealand, Canada, Portugal and Japan, have avoided the financial disaster and human tragedy that mass incarceration represents while still ranking high in civil liberties and political rights. To rival those countries in both public safety and civil liberty is our challenge. So my primary inspiration in running for District Attorney is not to win the race per se, but instead to refresh the public discourse about crime and punishment, and to incite, whether out of enthusiasm or discomfort, an increase in voter participation. I know that more important than the election’s personal outcome is the conceptual seed that I may plant and that someday may materialize as better public policy, regardless of who is the public servant.

     AND SO, I now formally announce and introduce my candidacy for the public office of District Attorney, in spirited competition with my esteemed colleagues, Stacey Eads and Adrian Kamada, each of whom I have worked with and can attest to their highest personal integrity, as well as the sincerity of their principles. And despite my candidacy, I remain undecided regarding for whom I will cast my vote. Not on comparative photogenics, nor volume of visual media, nor necessarily on the past at all; my vote will be cast for the best ideas and specified policy proposals related to the institution that is the Office of the District Attorney.

     May the victor be forged from the fire of public discourse, still choking on the ashes of her enemies vanquished, as is the American way. And whomever you vote for, exercise your voting rights to Ensure Domestic Tranquility and Secure the Blessings of Liberty.


Michael Philip Acosta, Jr.