In the past few days following the successful recall of San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, Mayor London Breed has begun the process to find a successor to Boudin.
In the last nine months, Breed has appointed many high profile replacements in various city positions for reasons ranging from resignation to being recalled. In September, she appointed then-Assemblyman David Chiu as City Attorney to replace Dennis Herrera, who left to become the SF Public Utilities Commission General Manager. A successful school board recall in February, seen by many as a precursor of things to come in the Boudin recall election, next allowed Breed to appoint three replacements for the removed board members. A special election last month elevating Supervisor Matt Haney to the Assembly to fill Chiu’s former Assembly seat led to Breed appointing Matt Dorsey to the open Board of Supervisors slot.
With Boudin now recalled by more than 61% of voters on Tuesday, Breed now has yet another choice. On Wednesday, she let the city know that she was currently looking into a replacement and was talking with some potential candidates. She also revealed some of the qualities she was looking for in a new DA.
“I think there has been a false narrative about criminal justice reform. I think San Franciscans overall support the need to provide criminal justice reform to give people second chances, but we also need to make sure that accountability is part of the equation,” Breed said on Wednesday during a press conference. “This is something we care about. We want justice, but we also want to make sure that people have a second chance.”
“I wouldn’t necessarily say I have a list, I would say there are a lot of people who have reached out to my office to express interest.”
Breed’s DA decision
To many, this reads as Breed walking the ever thinning political tightrope in San Francisco between those still looking for top-down reforms despite the failure of Boudin’s policies and those supporting more of a hard-line approach to cut down on crime in the City by the Bay.
“It sounds like she wants someone who is still in favor of some reforms, but now she also knows that you go too far and bad things happen. Crime goes up, but also now if you support those reforms you in a way support the person who had been behind those reforms too. And no one wants to be associated with Boudin right now” explained Frank Ma, a former law enforcement official who now works as a security advisor for businesses in the Bay Area, to the Globe on Thursday.”
“Reformers were a big part of those who voted for her last election and those she stood with after the protests in 2020. She can’t lose that support. But after Boudin, it’s clear that you can’t be blindly behind reforms either. And this is sad. It looks like she’s putting her political future ahead of the increase of police and return of stricter punishments we need to deter crime. Boudin was a great first step, but the impact may not be as big if she picks someone who is a ‘Boudin lite’. This was just a vote on Boudin and not criminal justice reform itself, although the hope is that a message was sent as to where more residents are standing on that.”
However, rumored candidates make it clear that Breed is indeed looking for someone not like Boudin. These include Brooke Jenkins, who had worked as an assistant DA under Boudin until she resigned and endorsed for his removal. Another who was pro-recall, Supervisor Catherine Stefani, would have Breed select yet another Supervisor position if chosen. Others, like Prosecutor Nancy Tung and for fire and police Commissioner Joe Alioto Veronese, have also been seen as not so keen on Boudin-style reforms.
Breed’s appointment will likely be announced in late June or early July depending when the recall election is certified by Department of Elections officials. The new District Attorney will only be in power until around the end of the year, as voters will elect a new DA in November, unless he or she also chooses to run and wins.
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