A recall election of San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin was made all but certain on Friday after it was announced that 83,487 signatures, more than 30,000 more than needed, had been submitted to San Francisco election officials.
Elected in 2019, Boudin quickly drew the ire of many residents for removing crime categories and refusing to prosecute most criminals in the city. These measures, which in addition to an already rising crime rate, lingering effects of the increased felony threshold rate Prop 47 law, and the COVID-19 pandemic, led to skyrocketing crime numbers in San Francisco in 2020, with figures remaining high in 2021 across most categories.
Retail groups have blamed Boudin personally for the high crime rates, with many businesses, such as Walgreens, pulling many stores from the city because of how much money they lost in the past few years from thefts and unprosecuted criminals.
As soon as they legally could, several groups began multiple recall petitions against Boudin. While the first petition failed to get even the minimum 51,325 signatures needed for a recall, supporters for the second petition with a deadline two months later had more luck. A still high crime rate and businesses being shut down because of the crime were large factors, as were many signers being spurred by the failed recall of Governor Gavin Newsom last month and another recall effort against several San Francisco School Board members getting enough signatures to be on the ballot.
The second recall effort against Boudin, spearheaded by Safer SF Without Boudin, a group that has said that Boudin failed to keep promises of real criminal justice reform and police accountability, said on Friday that they had received 83,487 signatures, 32,162 more than the 51,325 required to put the recall issue on the ballot.
83,000+ Signatures Submitted to Force SF District Attorney Chesa Boudin into Recall Election https://t.co/4PwvoX8Vtq
— safersfwithoutboudin (@safersfnoboudin) October 22, 2021
“It says a lot about the anger and the fear that San Franciscans have about what’s going on in the community,” said Safer SF Without Boudin Co-chairwoman Mary Jung on Friday. “People are still calling us wanting to know whether or not they can sign today to be part of the signatures being turned in.”
“Our goal was to garner at least 70,000 signatures, so we exceeded even our own goal,” added group spokeswoman Andrea Shorter. “The demand was great.”
A likely Boudin recall election in 2022
Many cheered the news of Boudins’ likely upcoming recall vote on Friday, including many in the law enforcement community.
“You would not believe how many citizens, police officers, and business owners called me today on this,” said Frank Ma, a former law enforcement official who now works as a security advisor for businesses in the Bay Area to the Globe on Friday. “Everyone has been trying to fight back against this crime wave the best they could, and the city kept saying it wasn’t that bad or just pointed to stats and made no real effort to listen to the people. Boudin in particular just avoided the issue, and to many, was on the side of criminals.”
“Everyone is taking note now. A lot of the city actively hates him and wants tougher criminal measures. Maybe now Boudin will go down to a Target or some businesses in the Tenderloin and ask people what he can do. That’s the only way he can get out of this in my opinion. When officers on patrol want to know what’s wrong, they hold a community meeting or simply ask the people when walking around what’s up in their part of town. Even with so many not really liking law enforcement post-George Floyd, you’ll still get honest answers out of people. That’s where Boudin should start. He’ll find that that what he thought was best for communities really has not been.”
On Thursday, Boudin, seeing preliminary signature numbers and the strong possibility of a recall fight next year, held a rally vowing to fight the recall attempt.
“The reason that so many of you voted for me in 2019 was because of promises I made you. This has nothing to do with the facts or the real challenges our communities are facing,” said the DA on Thursday “This has everything to do with disrespecting the will of the people.” Boudin then also said that he has continued to act on his campaign promises from two years ago.
Supporters of Boudin, including former State Senator Mark Leno, added that the recall election of Boudin would go against the wishes of voters.
“This is recall madness and we have to stop it or this just the new way of life and truth doesn’t stand in the way, respect for the voters,” said Leno on Friday.
However, recall supporters responded to those remarks on Friday.
“But that’s why we have recalls,” added Ma. “They do something very wrong, like cause a crime wave and criminals getting away with crimes, so we get rid of them for doing that. Also, note that most supporters are not defending Boudin but are rather saying ‘respect the four year terms’. That really tells you something.”
Should enough signatures be verified by San Francisco election officials, the Boudin recall election would be held in June 2020 during the Primary elections. Should voters recall him, San Francisco Mayor London Breed would choose an interim DA, with a special DA election to be held during the November election later next year.
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