District Attorney George Gascon has said he is not running for reelection. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

District Attorney George Gascon has said he is not running for reelection. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

District Attorney George Gascon declines to run for re-election

District Attorney George Gascon, who has served as the top prosecutor in San Francisco since 2011, said Tuesday that he no longer plans to seek re-election next year, citing the failing health of his mother.

Gascon was expected to run against former Police Commission President Suzy Loftus and others in November 2019 before announcing in a statement that running a re-election campaign “would not be compatible” with taking care of his 90-year-old mother.

“At this time, I simply cannot be the son I want to be and seek a third term,” Gascon said. “My career means a great deal to me. But success in the world with a family in chaos is not a choice I am willing to make.”

Gascon is a progressive district attorney who has strived to root out police bias, reform the bail system and clear old marijuana convictions. His announcement could open the door for a candidate to run to the left of Loftus, who has the endorsements of moderate politicians including Mayor London Breed.

SEE RELATED: Former police commissioner enters DA race with focus on car break-ins

Loftus did not respond to a request for comment.

“Obviously Suzy Loftus is a very strong candidate, but Breed has already fully endorsed her,” said political strategist Jon Gollinger. “Next November, do we want a DA in lock step with the mayor, or do we want checks and balances?”

There are already several rumored candidates who could jump into the race in the wake of the announcement, including Supervisor Jane Kim and David Campos, head of the local Democratic Party.

“Right now, I’m just sending my best wishes to George, his mother and his whole family,” said Kim, who has been a rumored candidate since she lost the mayor’s race to Breed in June.

Campos, a former supervisor, said he is considering running against Loftus.

“I just learned, so I haven’t given it any thought,” Campos said in a text message. “Have to think seriously about it.”

Joe Alioto Veronese, a former Police Commission member, and Deputy Attorney General Leif Dautch are currently contenders in the race.

Gascon plans to remain district attorney until the voters elect his successor. He served as police chief before then-mayor Gavin Newsom appointed him as district attorney to replace Kamala Harris.

Prior to the announcement, he had Newsom’s endorsement and billionaire George Soros had pledged to fundraise for his campaign.

“It is difficult to step away, especially when we are experiencing so much success and progress,” Gascon said. “I am flattered by the robust and diverse support for my campaign and it will be hard to walk away from that. But, at this time in my life, it is the only choice I am certain I can live with.”

During his tenure, Gascon oversaw the creation of the Crime Strategies Unit to stop serial criminals using crime analysis and the Independent Investigations Bureau to more quickly investigate police shootings.

Gascon came under fire for championing Proposition 47 in 2014. The ballot measure, designed to alleviate prison overcrowding in California, reduced certain crimes to misdemeanors and has been wrongly blamed for rising property crime.

Gascon assembled a blue ribbon panel to report on institutional bias in the San Francisco Police Department in 2015 after a racist text scandal and a series of police shootings including the death of Mario Woods.

Anand Subramanian, who led the blue ribbon panel, said Gascon “demonstrated a true commitment to police accountability in San Francisco.”

But Subramanian did note that Gascon has faced criticism for not charging a single officer involved in a shooting, though the district attorney has charged cops with other crimes and did support an unsuccessful bill earlier this year that would have raised the standards for when police could shoot someone.

“I think his journey from being a police chief to becoming a reformist district attorney demonstrated his passion for justice and willingness to change his mind, which I think is too rare among law enforcement generally,” Subramanian said.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez contributed to this story

CrimePolitics

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Deputy public defender Chris Garcia outside the Hall of Justice on Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
As pandemic wanes, SF public defender hopes clients will get ‘their day in court’

Like other attorneys in San Francisco, Deputy Public Defender Chris Garcia has… Continue reading

A warning notice sits under the windshield wiper of a recreational vehicle belonging to a homeless man named David as it sits parked on De Wolf Street near Alemany Boulevard on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. A proposed SF Municipal Transportation Agency law would make it illegal for overnight parking on the side street for vehicles taller than seven feet or longer than 22 feet. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Fight over ‘poverty tows’ heats up

‘What can we do to ensure the vehicle stays in the hands of the owner?’

Crab fisherman Skip Ward of Marysville casts his crab net out off a pier near Fort Point. (Craig Lee/Special to The	Examiner)
San Francisco came back to life, and we captured it all

Last spring, in the early days of the pandemic, the bestselling authors… Continue reading

Revelers at Madrone Art Bar in the early hours of June 15, 2021 (Courtesy Power Quevedo).
No social distancing at Motown-themed dance party

‘I don’t care how anyone feels, I just want to dance!’

Azikiwee Anderson of Rize Up Bakery pulls and twists sourdough into shape on Wednesday, June 2, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
San Francisco’s Rize Up Bakery serving up sourdough with a call to action

Azikiwee Anderson wakes up most mornings just before dawn to start cooking… Continue reading

Most Read