Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko has been in office for over a year now since he was appointed on January 27, 2021.
Nasarenko, 51, looks forward to continuing his time as district attorney if elected in the statewide elections on June 7. Senior prosecutor John Barrick is the only candidate running against Nasarenko.
“I’ve greatly enjoyed my time as the Ventura County District Attorney and look forward to continuing to lead the great men and women of the Ventura County DA’s office,” Nasarenko said to VIDA Newspaper. “My primary focus is making sure that we keep the county safe, and I believe strongly that we have.”
Nasarenko says that crime rates within the county are largely down in most cities and jurisdictions, which shows that Ventura County remains one of the safest counties in California.
Throughout his time in office so far, Nasarenko says he is very proud of specific initiatives – one of them being the establishment of the Notario Fraud Task Force.
“[It is] to investigate and rule out cases where charlatans pose as attorneys, take money from residents, and then provide absolutely zero services. It’s against the law to practice without being a licensed attorney, and thanks to the resources we’ve devoted to the task force, I believe we are preventing fraud as well as making sure that it doesn’t continue,” Nasarenko said.
The Ventura County DA is also proud of the expansion of outreach services that has been worked on for crime victims. “We purchased over the summer, thanks to the County of Ventura, the main Family Justice Center across from the Ventura County Medical Center. This provides services, support and much needed healing to our crime victims,” Nasarenko said to VIDA Newspaper.
Nasarenko said that a domestic violence shelter will be opening this summer at that same location. The Family Justice Center will also be expanding to Oxnard to provide needed support to residents. “We have identified a specific site in Oxnard… it will provide a location for the Oxnard Police Department Family Protection Unit. It will also provide a location for individuals who may be of Mixteco indigenous descent, as well as those who are farm workers or who live in the area and may be undocumented,” Nasarenko said to VIDA Newspaper. “We want this to be a one stop shop for everybody.”
Another initiative Nasarenko is proud of, is the creation of the first mental health unit in the district attorney’s office. “I’m very thankful to Supervisor Carmen Ramirez, our board chair, as well as the board of supervisors who gave us the additional prosecutors for this unit,” he said.
Nasarenko also mentioned that a grant to test old sexual assault kits has recently been received from the federal government. “It will create the first ever cold case unit in the district attorney’s office,” he said.
To help reduce crime rates in minority groups, and in general, Nasarenko believes that restorative practices should begin with the youth.
“This spring we will launch the Restorative Justice Services Conference which essentially will pair certain youth offenders with a third-party facilitator, and in some cases with their victim. [This is to] get to the root causes of the offense, to understand why the conduct occurred, and for the parties to come together to globally agree on an appropriate remedy,” Nasarenko said to VIDA Newspaper.
Nasarenko says that when he thinks about where he is today, he thinks about his roots – the hard work of his parents, and grandparents. “I’m a product of immigrants, my parents both came to this country from Ukraine, and they fled the second world war. They lived in refugee camps for over 5 years, and they came to this country like so many immigrants seeking a better life,” Nasarenko said to VIDA Newspaper. “They understood that hard work and education could help create that better life, and they instilled in me that work ethic as well as the inherent value of receiving a solid education.”
Nasarenko went to high school outside of downtown Los Angeles, near Boyle Heights – a largely immigrant community. “At the age of 16 it gave me an opportunity to connect to other ethnicities, different cultures, and really to understand how valuable diversity and broad-minded viewpoints are to shaping our society, and to both public safety and economic growth.”
Something else that Nasarenko has focused on as the Ventura County District Attorney, is making sure that there is community reflection in the office. “We have hired one of the most diverse groups of attorneys in our office’s history. We’ve hired 13 since I’ve been here, 9 of whom are female” Nasarenko said. “We hired an African American female, who grew up in Oxnard and was formally an Oxnard police officer… We also brought in a Korean American from Cook County Chicago, who brings her AAPI traditions and values to our office, and we hired a prosecutor who is bilingual and grew up in Moorpark and is the first in his family to become an attorney, let alone go to college,” Nasarenko said to VIDA Newspaper.
The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office is overall 34 percent Hispanic, and 12 percent Hispanic among attorneys.
Nasarenko was encouraged by his parents to apply to the district attorney’s office. “[My parents said] it is a beautiful community to raise a family. At the time, my daughter had just been born, she is 15 now. My wife and I, and our daughter went out here and we drove to different communities… and we just fell in love with it.”
Prior to his appointment, Erik served Ventura County as a Senior Deputy District Attorney. He also ran for the Ventura City Council in 2013 and was elected twice and served as Ventura’s Mayor as well.
“I feel as I’ve been able to give back to the county, and I’d very much be honored to continue to do so,” Nasarenko said. “[I have] proven leadership, a record of public safety accomplishments, and broad financial management experience.”