After months of speculation, City Attorney Carmen Trutanich confirmed today that he will run for district attorney of Los Angeles County.
District Attorney Steve Cooley previously announced that he would not seek a fourth term and plans to retire.
Trutanich, who had vowed not to seek higher office during his first term as city attorney, said he is running at the urging of Sheriff Lee Baca.
Cooley urged Trutanich not to run and endorsed Chief Deputy District Attorney Jackie Lacey. Four other prosecutors in the D.A.'s office, Alan Jackson, Bobby Grace, Danette Meyers and Mario Trujillo, are also running.
"I love my job as city attorney, but I can't do my job to protect residents, nor can our local police and sheriffs, without a crime-fighting partner in the D.A.'s office," Trutanich said in a statement.
Trutanich, who was elected the city's top prosecutor in 2009, has built his reputation on going after companies that put up illegal billboards and super graphics and seeking injunctions in an attempt to quell gang violence. He also attempted to crack down on pot shops and declared that any and all dispensaries in Los Angeles selling pot for profit were illegal.
"They have to close down," Trutanich told Patch. "It is illegal. I do not make the law."
Trutanich also backed up his tough talk and sued seven pot shops in the city, . Rather than fight the lawsuit, the two shops shut down.
He also recently prepared a draft ordinance that calls for the city to on medical marijuana in Los Angeles.
"There are people in the City of Los Angeles that truly need marijuana as a medicine, not to get high, not to make money, but to get well," City Attorney Carmen Trutanich told the committee.
If elected as the county's top prosecutor, Trutanich said he would work to expand gang prevention programs in local schools and to expand job training for at-risk youth.
During the 2009 campaign for city attorney, Trutanich urged his opponent to sign a pledge not to use the office "as a political stepping stone." He proposed the winner of the race would have to donate $100,000 to an after- school program and take out a full-page newspaper ad, declaring "I am a liar," if he violated the pledge.
"Even though he broke his word to the people of Los Angeles, I'm sure Trutanich plans to honor his sworn and signed pledge by purchasing the ads," Jackson strategist John Thomas said.
In an opinion blog on the Los Angeles Times website, Jon Healey wrote, "By his own standards, Trutanich is a liar. And considering his willingness to lie to voters, I don't expect him to keep his pledge to the local print media or to the L.A.'s Best After School Program either."
Baca called the charge a distraction, saying, "All this to me is merely a diversion from the real fact, and that's who's best qualified to serve as district attorney for the County of Los Angeles. That's Carmen Trutanich."
Campaign adviser John Shallman said more than 1,000 police officers, sheriff's personnel and others have signed a petition urging Trutanich to run, "so it appears the only people unhappy with his candidacy are gang members and the other candidates."
Trutanich launched a campaign website featuring a 13-minute documentary detailing his career.