Democratic Dist. Atty. Chesa Boudin, known for an extremely controversial tenure over crime and homelessness in San Francisco, has been decisively voted to recall. Some ballots were still being counted on Wednesday. However, among the more than 123,000 votes cast in the recall election, 60 per cent of voters wanted Boudin to be removed from office, an overwhelming majority.
Chesa Boudin is ousted from office in a high-profile recall election
The recall became a shining referendum on some of the most painfully visible social problems in San Francisco that including rising homelessness, drug addiction and property crime. The recall campaign seemed to paint Boudin as a soft-on-crime prosecutor who has no regard for the safety of the public, which seemed to fit right in with his recent reform policies that have resulted in horrifying incidents including a fatal hit-and-run involving a man on parole, a series of smash-and-grab robberies from high-end Union Square stores and a wave of attacks against elderly Asian American residents.
Following the acceptance of the recall election results by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Mayor London Breed will appoint an interim district attorney. In November, another election will be held to determine who will be the district attorney through 2026.
Voters sent a “clear message” of wanting a better DA
According to Mary Jung, the chair of the recall campaign, voters of San Francisco sent a crystal clear message that they want a better District Attorney who would hold “serious, violent and repeat offenders accountable while never forgetting the rights of victims and their families.”
“This election does not mean that San Francisco has drifted to the far right on our approach to criminal justice,” Jung said. “In fact, San Francisco has been a national beacon for progressive criminal justice reform for decades and will continue to do so with new leadership.” -she added.
Boudin told his supporters at The Ramp restaurant in Mission Bay that the national push for criminal justice reform was larger than any single election or city.
“We know that people were writing the obituary of this election before our campaign even started,” he said. “But we are just getting started, because we knew that fixing a system that has systematically failed us — not just for decades, but for generations, for centuries — was not the work of one year, or one term. It’s certainly not the work of one man or woman or one office.”
“Safe is not a word I’d use to describe San Francisco,” says resident
According to Raj Marwah, 40, who works in finance and is a resident of the Marina District of San Francisco, San Francisco cannot be described as “safe”.
“Safe is not a word I’d use to describe San Francisco,” Marwah said. Removing Boudin from the office won’t solve everything, he said, but “when the player’s doing bad, you’ve got to pull ‘em.” He adds that “things have gotten worse in every way,”, referring to homelessness, and that he feels embarrassed when his parents from Texas come down to San Francisco for a visit.
During Boudin’s first two years in office, property and violent crimes fell by double-digit percentages. However, some types of crime increased during the same time period: Burglaries increased by 47 per cent, while motor vehicle theft increased by 36 per cent. Homicides have also increased, though 2019 saw the city’s lowest number of killings in more than a half-century.
Boudin ran on a platform of reducing mass incarceration and diverting low-level offenders into drug and mental health treatment rather than jail cells, like other prosecutors in the nationwide movement to reimagine the criminal justice system.
Boudin’s defeat could have national ramifications, including for Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón is up for recall for the second time in two years. The outcome on Tuesday delighted supporters of the Gascón recall effort. To qualify the recall effort for the ballot in Southern California, the campaign needs to collect at least 67,000 more signatures over the next month.
Tim Lineberger, a spokesperson for the recall campaign, said the news from the Bay Area would inspire volunteers. “Voters from every community and every walk of life, regardless of political ideology, are rejecting pro-criminal policies that are masked as criminal justice reform,” Lineberger said. “George Gascón and Chesa Boudin’s failed social experiments have destroyed communities while doing nothing to meaningfully reform the system. If L.A. County voters sign and return their recall petitions, Gascón will be walking the same plank in the near future.” -said Lineberger.