You’ve probably never heard of any of these four people running for San Francisco district attorney, so their debate last Wednesday presented preliminary evidence on how you might want to litigate your November vote.
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón arrived in San Francisco as police chief in 2009 after a nationwide search, and then was appointed as DA in 2011 when Kamala Harris moved on to bigger and better things. The four people running to succeed Gascón, who is not seeking re-election, aren’t exactly household names. But they tried to make names for themselves Wednesday night at a debate hosted by the San Francisco Latino Democratic Club, where most constituents got their first looks at DA candidates Chesa Boudin (a deputy SF public defender), Leif Dautch (a California deputy attorney general), Suzy Loftus (an SF Sheriff's Department legal counsel), and Nancy Tung (a prosecutor in the Alameda DA’s office).
As noted by the San Francisco Examiner, the department’s protocol with sexual assault victims — and how it would change if these candidates were in charge — was the topic du jour on Wednesday night. Amidst a backdrop of criticism of how the office handles rape and assault cases. Dautch proposed an online tracking system to ensure rape kits were being tested in a timely fashion, Boudin said he’d initiate a Sex Crimes Review Team to interview survivors more compassionately. Loftus promised that under her, the office would look for evidence more vigorously in uncharged rape cases, while Tung insisted she’d drastically expand the office’s Victim Services Division.
The historic closure of San Francisco Juvenile Hall (by 2021) has the support of all the candidates, except Nancy Tung. According to Mission Local, Tung said that “The problem that I have with closing down our secured facilities completely is that there are still going to be minors that are found by a judge that need confinement.” Boudin, meanwhile, stood out in saying that he wanted the facility closed even sooner, and Dautch said he’d turn the place into a “mental health justice center.”
Tung is also the lone holdout on the issue of cash bail, which all of the other candidates favor eliminating. (That issue will be on the California 2020 ballot.) Boudin and Dautch have both fought or argued against the cash bail system at the state level.
And all of the candidates detailed their own pet projects. Loftus touted her proposed Civil Rights Unit that would address racial disparities in prosecution. Boudin brought his own respective idea for a Wrongful Conviction Unit that would supposedly cut down on the multimillion-dollar settlements the city routinely pays to the wrongfully accused. Dautch said he’d prosecute unlawful owner-move-in evictions as criminal cases, and Tung proposes integration of more Bay Area law enforcement agencies to prosecute car break-ins that are widely believed to orchestrated by regional organized crime networks.
You might feel you need more information to decide who you’re voting for, and to that end, the four DA candidates will debate again on August 6 at the San Francisco Public Library.