As we wait to see what sort of pain the Governor’s budget will bring, San Francisco made some news again yesterday. Rather than appointing one of the political types that have been bandied about, Mayor/LG Newsom, always one for a bit of the dramatic, went for the unexpected by selecting SF Police Chief George Gascón.
Now, Gascón has been pretty popular in SF since he arrived about a year and a half ago, but his name was never really mentioned in connection with the DA gig. There are a number of reasons for that. While he did graduate from Western State University College of the Law, he has never really practiced law. Instead, he’s been a full-time cop, moving up the ladder in the LAPD (and serving as the Chief of Mesa,AZ).
Now, while he may not have the trial experience of a Kamala Harris, it is clear that the DA of a county like SF rarely actually litigates cases anymore. Rather, the job is more strategic, and that is what Harris excelled in. And so it is no surprise that he chose to praise that ability of his predecessor:
At his swearing-in ceremony a few hours later, Gascón said he planned to continue many of Harris’ programs.
There will be one distinct change, however. Unlike Harris, Gascón said he had no objection to seeking the death penalty in cases that warrant it.(SF Chronicle)
Of course, in a city like San Francisco, the death penalty is neither popular nor particularly easy to get. Kamala Harris just didn’t have a whole lot of opportunities to attempt to get the death penalty even had she wanted to, and Gascón is going to learn a bit about those feelings as he enters his new found career in San Francisco politics.
Speaking of those political issues, no word on whether this presents any changed circumstances for other announced candidates. Current DA Administrator Paul Henderson and Boalt Hall criminal justice expert David Onek have already announced their candidacies. Former prosecutor Jim Hammer is also rumored to be interested.