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Op-Ed: The Case for Recalls of District Attorney Boudin and Gascon; A Tale of Two Counties Quest for Public Safety

 DA Boudin And Gascon
Above, Chesa Boudin, the 29th district attorney of San Francisco speaking with Democracy Now in October, 2019, and George Gascón, district attorney of Los Angeles County at a August 2021 news conference announcing a criminal case involving two former police officers. YouTube.

LOS ANGELES, CA – It was the best of times for Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon. With only days remaining before the first recall effort against him being scheduled to conclude the 160-day signature gathering period, unsuccessfully collecting 579,062 qualified signatures to place his recall on the ballot.

It was the worst of times for San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin. On Friday, October 22, it was announced that the effort to recall him had submitted over 83,000 signatures, far in excess of the required 51,325 signatures necessary to trigger the recall election for Boudin. This news came approximately 2 months after the first effort to recall Boudin failed by coming up about 1,700 signatures short in August.

While some have claimed that a “recall fatigue” has swept over the state after the failed Newsom recall, what many are learning is that ballot measures such as the recall can still be an effective way to move the ball on narrowly defined issues. Where the Newsom recall failed was in allowing those issues to be broadened and redefined to become ones never meant to be solved by the recall.

Now, though, we see 76% more people signing the petition to recall Boudin than voted to recall Newsom in San Francisco. Why? Because public safety, justice, clean and protected neighborhoods, and stopping politicians from abusing their power while pushing agendas riddled with inconsistent, problematic policy that prevents those positive objectives from being obtained are important to people – too important to be ignored until the next scheduled election.

It is these same issues that Angelenos are facing in the state’s most populous county, and one certainly more geographically expansive than San Francisco, as well. However, while San Francisco should have had demographics far more favorable to protecting Boudin from a recall, even that advantage could not manage to stop the efforts of San Franciscans for Public Safety and the support received from the Neighbors for a Better San Francisco Advocacy.

Considering this was Gascon’s old “stomping ground,” a compelling case could even be made that he shares some culpability for many of the catastrophic consequences faced in the city. Not to mention, he supports incredibly similar policies of Boudin. These two facts should have him heeding the warnings of the 2nd round recall efforts against him. While he can offer platitudes that the first effort against him fell much further short than the 1,700 signatures of the first round Boudin effort, the reality is that 31 cities have still taken the historic and unprecedented action of having voted “No Confidence” in him. Morale is still at an all-time, abysmal low in his office. Victims, especially those in traditional minority communities and those most vulnerable, continue to be disproportionately harmed by the rising crime, all while an alarming number of cases brought to the DA’s office are being dismissed without ever going to trial.

Additionally, the reasons for the failure of the first effort are not likely to be repeated. Secondly, many will be taking extra caution to heed past warnings and ensure that this 2nd round effort is steered further away from being driven by the same consultants who captained the first effort, into to the proverbial iceberg. From connecting the Gascon recall to the Larry Elder campaign which also collided with calamitous consequences, particularly in Los Angeles County, to the questions surrounding how effectively spent was the $1.5 million dollars raised by the Recall George Gascon campaign, the conclusion is clear – new leadership is needed on the 2nd round effort.

We cannot afford to repeat the same spurious strategies as before, with the same “professionals” as last time, and just expect to see different results in the 2nd effort. The stakes are just too high to see the definition of insanity played out in reality. It’s time to Stop the Madness. Angelenos deserve better. Victims deserve justice. The most vulnerable populations of the county deserve protection.

The takeaway from the success of the Boudin signature collection effort is that it can be done – and in San Francisco of all places – but it takes course correction. The people want public safety, justice, and neighborhoods free from crime – that is true all through California. They are ready, willing, and able to use the recall provisions to remove power-pillaging politicians preventing those things from being achieved. Gascon should be concerned. The 2nd round is ramping up and coming for his removal.

Editors Note: Harriette Reid, Los Angeles County resident and public policy speaker on issues affecting the Black community in California, contributed to this report.

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