Voters recall D.A. Chesa Boudin
Reformist prosecutor in San Francisco will not finish first term amid social problems.
With more than 61% of voters backing the recall of the 41-year-old reformer candidate, the Associated Press and the San Francisco Chronicle called the race Tuesday night.
The bitter, expensive recall election has become a referendum on some of San Francisco’s most painfully visible social problems, including homelessness, property crime and drug addiction.
The recall campaign has painted Boudin as a soft-on-crime prosecutor who doesn’t care about public safety. It has tied his criminal reform policies to high-profile crimes, 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 attacks against elderly Asian American residents.
“Safe is not a word I’d use to describe San Francisco,” said Raj Marwari, 40, who lives in the Marina District and works in finance. He said he voted to recall Boudin because “obviously, things have gotten worse in every way,” including homelessness. He said he’s embarrassed when his parents from Texas visit the city.
Removing Boudin from office won’t solve everything, Marwari said, but “when the player’s doing bad, you’ve got to pull ’em.”
Property and violent crimes fell by double-digit percentages during Bou-din’s first two years in office. But some individual categories of crime surged in the same time frame: Burglaries rose 47%; motor vehicle theft, 36%. Homicides also increased, though the city saw its lowest number of killings in more than a half-century in 2019.
Like other prosecutors in the nationwide movement to reimagine the criminal justice system, Boudin ran on a platform to reduce mass incarceration and divert low-level offenders into drug and mental health treatment instead of jail cells.
His loss could have national implications, including for Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón, who is facing his second recall attempt in two years.
During his 2½-year tenure, Boudin has refused to seek the death penalty or try juveniles as adults. He has reduced the use of sentencing enhancements. A San Francisco police officer stood trial for excessive force this year for the first time, though the officer, Terrance Stangle, was acquitted.
Boudin and his supporters fanned out across the city Tuesday to hand out pamphlets urging a “no” vote on the recall, known as Proposition H. As he campaigned along Divisadero Street in a neighborhood known as NoPa (North of the Panhandle), Boudin said he was “feeling great.”
Michael Wald, 81, a retired Stanford law professor, voted to keep Boudin in office. Recalls “are a very bad way of addressing public policy” and should be reserved for candidates who have done something unethical or illegal, he said.