Politics & Government

Prosecutor Dan Dow plans to run for SLO County district attorney

Dan Dow has announced he's running for San Luis Obispo County district attorney.
Dan Dow has announced he's running for San Luis Obispo County district attorney.

A day after his boss announced he wouldn’t seek re-election, prosecutor Dan Dow declared Tuesday that he intends to run for district attorney in the June primary.

“I’m running primarily because I want to keep San Luis Obispo one of the best places to live in California,” Dow, 43, of Templeton, told The Tribune. “I absolutely love our community, and I want our community to continue to be safe.”

On Monday, District Attorney Gerry Shea announced that he would not seek a fifth term as the county’s top prosecutor. Shea, who has been district attorney for more than 15 years, will finish his current term, which ends in January 2015.

After Dan Hilford, the former assistant district attorney, retired a year ago, Dow said he began preparing for a possible run, assuming Shea, who has nearly 40 years of experience, might also retire soon.

“I want to continue the work that he’s done,” said Dow, who formally announced his candidacy outside the county courthouse to a crowd of supporters.

Born in Gloucester, Mass., Dow is a veteran of the U.S. Army. While in the Army, he attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey. He spent a year in Korea as a linguist before returning to the States, where he obtained his bachelor’s degree from California State University Hayward. His initial career entailed working as a sales executive in the tech industry. But when the dot-com bubble began to burst in 2000, Dow, then 31, decided to attend law school, eventually graduating from Santa Clara University School of Law.

At one point, his law school studies were interrupted when he was sent to Kosovo with the National Guard. Since gaining his law degree, Dow — whose great-great-grandfather served in the Civil War — has continued his military service with the National Guard, where he is currently a major.

His career as a prosecutor began in Riverside County, where he worked two years. After getting hired as a deputy district attorney in San Luis Obispo County six years ago, Dow got the call from the National Guard again and was deployed to Iraq, where he served as trial counsel and adviser to a colonel on military justice issues.

Upon his return to San Luis Obispo County, he began prosecuting felony cases.

“Being a prosecutor is by far the best job I ever had,” Dow said.

On the day of his announcement, Dow’s website listed numerous endorsements, including 16 current deputy district attorneys, police, private attorneys and members of the community.

Dow lives in Templeton with his wife, Wendy — a local small business owner — and two children, ages 8 and 6.

If elected, Dow said, he would emphasize openness and work with the Sheriff’s Office to reduce jail overcrowding.

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