San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin ousted from office in high-profile recall election
The recall and the stakes:
Boudin, a former public defender, was elected as San Francisco's district attorney in 2019. His candidacy and election gained national attention because of his own story of having incarcerated parents combined with his progressive
Boudin was the latest California official to face a well-funded and organized recall effort after California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat elected in 2018, resoundingly beat back a campaign to oust him from office in 2021.
But unlike Newsom, Boudin had no opponent — and voters decisively booted him from office.
As the New York Times noted, "there is no compelling evidence" that, since he took office in early 2020, "Boudin's policies have made crime significantly worse in San Francisco," which has seen crime rates notably rise in some categories, like retail theft and break-ins to homes and cars, but remain relatively steady or fall in others.
In a recent interview with SFGATE columnist Drew Margary, Boudin vigorously defended his policies and his record, including high-profile instances of assailants committing violent crimes in San Francisco after being released from custody.
"We make mistakes every day," Boudin told SFGATE. "We're managing tens of thousands of arrests every year. We have a very tight timeline, set by state law, to make charging decisions. We always have imperfect information. Some significant percentage of people who are arrested in any jurisdiction in this country are going to be released and go on to commit very serious crimes."
Boudin has also decried the basis for the recall as bad-faith attacks, arguing that his detractors unfairly blame him for matters outside of his control, like San Francisco's housing crisis, the availability of mental health services, and conservatorships for people with mental illnesses.
"Homelessness is another issue of frustration," Boudin told New York Magazine. "There are lots of city departments, some overseen by the mayor, some by the Board of Supervisors, that deal with housing and housing policy. My office is not one of them. Things have been dishonestly foisted onto my office and onto me."
Boudin getting ousted from office is be a major setback for the progressive prosecutor movement nationwide and could spur wealthy donors to try to recall other district attorneys or mount efforts to make it easier to oust other local officials, New York Magazine noted.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed will name a temporary replacement district attorney until a new one is elected.
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