​Jeff Fogel holds campaign event on Grounds

Candidate for Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney lays out reform-focused plan

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Jeff Fogel aims to eliminate mass incarceration, cease racial inequities in the criminal justice system and mobilize community participation. 

Chris MacDonnell | Cavalier Daily

Jeff Fogel, a candidate running for the position of Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney, held a campaign event on Grounds Tuesday. The event was sponsored by both the University Democrats and the Black Student Alliance.

During his talk, Fogel outlined the core tenets of his reform-based platform. According to a sheet distributed at the meeting, Fogel’s proposed program is anchored by three goals — eliminating mass incarceration, ceasing racial inequities in the criminal justice system and mobilizing community participation in the interest of such matters.

Each of the goals contained a set of sub-points that listed relative policies, such as ending mandatory sentencing and ending the prosecution of marijuana possession cases.

Fogel said his personal background influenced his overall stance on matters of law and politics.

“I grew up in a household that worshipped Franklin Delano Roosevelt … I came out of it with the notion that the government could play a very positive role in people’s lives,” Fogel said. “As I’ve often argued, the condition in some of our communities is comparable to the Depression and that we should be treating it like that.”

In his earlier speech, Fogel said President Donald Trump’s electoral victory and Jeff Sessions’ subsequent appointment as U.S. Attorney General were the primary inspirations for his decision to run for the office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

He said he felt former President Barack Obama’s administration was moving in the right direction on criminal justice reform.

“When [Trump] nominated Jeff Sessions, who is now rejecting and undoing most of the things that Obama and [former Attorney General Eric] Holder were able to do, that’s what sealed my fate in terms of having to do something and recognizing the power of the local prosecutor and the power vis-à-vis the federal government, that they really couldn’t control you,” Fogel said.

Fogel said while the overarching philosophy of the Commonwealth’s Attorney office would change if he is elected, the hallmark procedural legal functions would not.

“We will still prosecute people, there will still be trials, people will still go to jail, people will still go to prison, but we are going to change the focus of that office and set it as an example to other localities as well,” he said.

Wes Gobar, a third-year College student and current BSA political action adviser and BSA president-elect, said in an interview with The Cavalier Daily that he personally endorses Fogel. Although he said he was not speaking on behalf of BSA, he suggested the candidate’s objectives may align with those of BSA.

“I would say that he’s completely spot-on,” Gobar said. “He said that Charlottesville claims to be a world class city and it’s very unequal. The history of segregation, the history of slavery … a lot of that stems from the University. As members of this University, I think that we need to ally as much as we can with members of the community to achieve justice.”

Charlottesville Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Joe Platania is also running for Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney. 

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