Hinckley debate highlights differences between district attorney candidates

The three candidates vying to fill the seat of Salt Lake district attorney are as diverse ideologically as they are professionally.

A debate among the candidates-a Democrat and chief criminal prosecutor, a Libertarian defense attorney and a Republican civil prosecutor-was held at the Hinckley Institute of Politics on Tuesday.

Prosecuting drug users and DUI offenders were issues of high contention for the candidates. Rob Latham, the Libertarian candidate in the race, advocated not punishing “victimless crimes,” including motorists arrested for drunken driving, unless they demonstrate a dangerous “driving pattern.”

“It’s just a fact of life that there are many highly functional adults who engage in drug use,” Latham said. “You shouldn’t be prosecuted for not living your life the way others want you to.”

Lohra Miller, the Republican candidate, said she completely disagrees with Latham’s stance on “victimless crimes” such as drug use and said access to drug treatment should be more readily available.

“I feel very passionately about prosecuting DUIs,” Miller said. “To call crimes that (Latham) has called victimless is outrageous.”

Simarjit Gill, the Democratic candidate in the race, agreed more closely with Miller and also advocated more treatment for drug offenders.

“Dollar for dollar, we are killing ourselves by (imprisoning) every meth addict,” Gill said.

Doug Holm, a second-year law student, said he agreed with Miller that drug users should be prosecuted even if they aren’t harming others at the time.

“Everyone who takes drugs impacts their family and community,” he said.

The three candidates also discussed the Utah Supreme Court ruling striking down the U’s on-campus gun ban. While all the candidates agreed that they could do little to change the law, Gill and Miller defended the ban, while Latham said he considered carrying a gun on campus a constitutional right.