By Malia Cohen and Sunny Schwartz
This week San Francisco has a new interim district attorney: Suzy Loftus. Our City needs leadership and stability now. Suzy is stepping into an office facing significant challenges — many lawyers have left and there are numerous issues to tackle to keep people safe.
The San Francisco DA’s Office is a public law office, charged with doing justice and holding people accountable who break the law and harm others. But it has been left without a strong leader for some time. Of a staff of nearly 140 lawyers, 48 have left since January 2019. Being a prosecutor is a difficult job on its best day and the hardworking staff deserve a leader who will support, train, protect, and champion their vital work of serving the public. This in turn will increase morale, leading to better outcomes for San Francisco survivors of crime who seek justice.
The people of San Francisco also deserve a district attorney who will focus on the issues impacting their lives and strive to keep their neighborhoods safe. Suzy is committed to our City, she is raising her family here, and has worked to build safety and fight for communities for over fifteen years. She has always answered the call to serve San Francisco and she is ready to serve as district attorney. We have worked to reform our justice system and Suzy was an integral part of historic changes we’ve made in San Francisco and across California.
Suzy will bring much-needed vision and direction to the district attorney in three important ways. First, she has been a courtroom prosecutor in San Francisco, trying cases of elder abuse, domestic violence and illegal firearms. This critical experience is needed to both do the job and to understand what is broken inside the system so we can work with advocates, the community, and other legal stakeholders to fix it.
Second, Suzy has a diverse background in public health and public safety which gives her a unique perspective on our most complex safety challenges. She will bring communities together to invest in comprehensive prevention strategies and develop effective accountability models that give individuals greater opportunity to make it right and contribute to society.
And finally, she comes to the job with broad support from grassroots community leaders, members of the legal community, reform advocates, and elected leaders at the local, state and federal level. This will strengthen our law enforcement response to both crime and criminal justice reform. Suzy has the support of regional law enforcement leaders, like Contra Costa DA Diana Becton, which will allow for partnerships to tackle trafficking rings and combat criminal organizations that are coming to San Francisco to break into cars. At the same time she can work alongside public health and community advocates to house our homeless and get them the psychiatric and substance abuse resources they need to get off the streets.
Suzy Loftus brings the leadership we need and deserve to make the District Attorney’s Office a world class law office. Her track record of collaboration and relentless problem solving has had demonstrable results for our City. Suzy’s work as a prosecutor, serving on the Police Commission, advocating for families, and working at the California Department of Justice all give her the ability to lead an office that will put the safety and priorities of San Franciscans first.
In the aftermath of tragedies with police officer-involved shootings, Suzy partnered with many other community leaders across the City to create change and deliver meaningful solutions that have saved lives and strengthened trust between law enforcement and the community.
So many women do not feel safe in San Francisco. To address street harassment and sexual assault, we need someone like Suzy in the District Attorney’s Office who will be a champion for women by improving victim support services and holding people accountable when harm is done against us.
Suzy is the only candidate in this race with the leadership experience to fix what’s broken in our criminal justice system, give victims of crime a voice, tackle the car break-in epidemic, prosecute those who need to be held accountable and ensure that everyone feels safe in their neighborhood — no matter who they are or where they live. She has honored her life’s mission to serve the people long before any appointment to a commission or public office.
The people of San Francisco deserve a district attorney who will focus on the issues impacting their lives, and keep their neighborhoods safe. For too long, the People’s Lawyer has not been accountable to the people. Suzy Loftus will change that.
Malia Cohen is chairwoman of the Board of Equalization and Sunny Schwartz is a criminal justice reform advocate.