Mayor London Breed speaks at a news conference to appoint Suzy Loftus as interim District Attorney at Far East Cafe in Chinatown on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Mar to ask voters to limit mayoral power after ‘undemocratic’ Loftus DA appointment

Critics of Mayor London Breed’s appointment of Suzy Loftus as district attorney last week now want voters to ban the practice.

Supervisor Gordon Mar announced Tuesday that he has asked the City Attorney’s Office to draft a charter amendment for the November 2020 ballot that would prohibit the Mayor from appointing declared candidates to the office they’re running for within 90 days of their election.

“It is plainly undemocratic and wrong to appoint a candidate — any candidate — to the office they’re running for weeks before an election,” Mar said. “We who are democratically elected to serve the people need to trust the people to decide for themselves who is best suited to represent them, without putting our thumb on the scale. I hope that as we work together to bring this Charter Amendment forward and iron out its details, we will.”

Last Thursday, District Attorney George Gascon tendered his resignation to Breed, effective Oct. 18, just weeks before the Nov. 5 election. The next day, on Friday, Breed announced amid protest that she would appoint Loftus as District Attorney.

Loftus is a leading candidate in the district attorney contest, running against three other people, and her appointment could give her a boost. Other candidates in the race criticized Breed’s move.

In making the announcement, Mar noted that the ACLU of Northern California criticized Breed’s decision in a statement last week.

“Appointments like these are fundamentally undemocratic and favor candidates who have establishment support, as opposed to allowing the process to run its course and let voters decide in an even playing field,” the Oct. 4 statement said.

The City Attorney’s Office will begin to draft the charter amendment per Mar’s request and the details will become known when it is formally introduced.

Mayoral spokesperson Jeff Cretan defended the appointment in a statement.

“The Mayor appointed Suzy Loftus because the District Attorney’s Office needs a leader right now to address the auto break-ins, drug dealing, and other crimes impacting San Francisco,” Cretan said. “With the challenges facing our City, we can’t afford to have a placeholder for three months. Victims of crime deserve accountability and immediate results.”

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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