Nevada County District Attorney running to retain position, announces educational program

Nevada County District Attorney Jesse Wilson announced this week that he will be running in the June election to keep his job.

In June, Wilson was selected by the county’s Board of Supervisors to become interim district attorney in a 3-to-2 vote, narrowly beating out Colusa County District Attorney Matthew Beauchamp as well as former Nevada County Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh for the office.

Wilson succeeded former District Attorney Cliff Newell, who held the position for 15 years before retiring in July. At the time of his retirement, Newell’s term was set to expire in early 2023.

If elected in June, Wilson will go on to hold the position for a full four-year term.

In a release Monday, Wilson stated his top priority will be to hold accountable those who commit serious and violent felonies in the county and provide justice to victims of crime.

Asked why he believes someone should vote for him over other potential candidates, Wilson described himself in an email as a “dedicated career prosecutor who has the skillset and experience to lead this office.”

According to the District Attorney’s Office’s website, Wilson worked with the office as a legal intern in 2010, and was hired as a deputy district attorney in 2012. He held that position for six years before moving to El Dorado County in 2018.

“I am committed to prosecuting criminals and fighting on behalf of victims and their families to obtain justice,” Wilson said. “At the same time, I believe that education and intervention in the form of evidence-based programs are critical components to reducing crime and building a better Nevada County.”

He added that district attorneys need to be able to adapt as the landscape of the criminal justice system changes, explaining that he believes traditional approaches to prosecution are “no longer going to be enough to provide the residents of Nevada County with the safety they deserve.”


In the release announcing his candidacy, Wilson also said that the county will be launching Project Lead in January.

Project Lead will be a “law-related education program” in which law enforcement officials as well as prosecutors from the District Attorney’s Office will work with fifth-grade classes, according to the release.

Wilson said in an email Tuesday that the 10- to 12-week program will begin at a local elementary school and is “designed to encourage students to stay in school and make good decisions.”

Visits from prosecutors and law enforcement officials, according to Wilson, will feature lesson plans on conflict resolution and resisting peer pressure, as well as addressing bullying and promoting tolerance and respect for diversity.

He did not name the school which will be participating in the program.

“Throughout the course of the program, kids will develop positive connections with leaders and law enforcement within Nevada County,” he said. “The District Attorney’s Office is excited to work with the youth in this community and make ‘Project Lead’ a fixture in our schools for years to come.”

According to a Project Lead flyer on Wilson’s campaign website, the program was first developed by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office in 1993, and uses educational tools such as skits, games, handouts, and mock trials.

Victoria Penate is a staff writer with The Union, a sister publication of The Union. She can be reached at

Jesse Wilson is running for a full term as district attorney.
Elias Funez/

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