Petaluma attorney joins District Attorney recall election as write-in candidate

Petaluma-based attorney and mediator Joe Castagnola has entered the Sonoma County District Attorney recall election field as a write-in candidate.

A political novice and soon to be a first-time father, Castagnola has a background in real estate, a passion for mediation and a deep love of the U.S. Constitution, he said.

Castagnola said he supports District Attorney Jill Ravitch and will vote against her recall. He said he is running as a write-in candidate so voters have a choice about Ravitch’s replacement should the recall succeed.

Castagnola, who turns 38 next week, is the second candidate to qualify as a write-in, joining attorney Omar Figueroa, 50.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to be able to help make Sonoma County a better place and protect our constitutional freedoms,” Castagnola said.

To qualify, write-in candidates had to submit a petition with 20 valid signatures from Sonoma County registered voters to the county registrar’s office by Aug. 30. Candidates also need to be admitted to practice in California’s Supreme Court, according to Deva Proto, the registrar of voters.

Launched last year, the campaign to recall Ravitch is funded solely by local developer Bill Gallaher. Last year, one of Gallaher’s companies paid $500,000 in a settlement agreement over the abandonment during the 2017 Tubbs fire of elderly residents at two Santa Rosa facilities affiliated with his firm Oakmont Senior Living.

The Recall Ravitch campaign has accused Ravitch of misdeeds including corrupt hiring practices and a failure to disclose conviction rates.

Ravitch has denied those accusations and countered that the recall is based on nothing more than Gallaher’s bid for revenge for holding his companies accountable.

Election Day is Sept. 14, and mail ballots went out to all registered voters.

No candidates filed to replace Ravitch, so if the effort succeeds, only a write-in candidate would be available to receive votes.

Castagnola opened his legal practice in 2017. He also holds licenses as a real estate broker, mortgage broker, property and casualty insurance broker and life insurance broker.

A Republican and self-described libertarian, Castagnola said he supports strong gun rights and believes people should have been allowed to gather to practice religion during public health lockdowns amid the pandemic.

If elected district attorney, should the recall succeed, Castagnola said he is committed to alternative sentencing where possible and believes there needs to be more clarity around police procedures and interactions with the public, such as during traffic stops and when delivering warrants.

“My wife commonly refers to me as the world’s most conservative hippy,” Castagnola said.

You can reach Staff Writer Emma Murphy at 707-521-5228 or On Twitter @MurphReports.

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