There’s an interesting little soul-of-the-city tussle in this year’s election for District Attorney. In an off-year, the race between acting DA Suzy Loftus and public defender Chesa Boudin is getting national attention.
You’d think, given what we hear on the street, this would be easy.
Candidates would present their plan to stop car break-ins and phone snatching. Then they could explain why in the world it took the Feds to do something about the drug dealing on Market Street.
But Boudin is not talking law enforcement. He’s going with less enforcement. He says he will not prosecute “quality of life” crimes: prostitution, public urination, or a tent on the sidewalk.
Which, you’d think, wouldn’t be a winner in San Francisco.
And yet...there is an unmistakable blow-the-whole-damn-thing-up vibe among voters. Exhibit A: Bernie Sanders. (Bernie has endorsed Boudin.)
Now, we understand the impulse to be seen as progressive and modern. But these are real problems.
For instance, another crime on Boudin’s non-prosecute list is driving under the influence. If it is the first offense and there was no accident or injuries, you go to counseling.
But as someone who could have been nailed for DUI during unwise moments in my life, I appreciate the gravity of getting arrested. In fact, those convicted of DUI have one of the lowest rates of recidivism of any crime. That is the definition of a deterrent.
Loftus has run a bit of a squishy campaign, leaning left to appeal to the Boudin crowd and hoping to hold onto the middle. Part of appointing her interim DA was to prop up her name recognition.
The Police Officers Association, clearly alarmed, is doing their grizzly-bear-at-the-tea-party routine. Their “RAPE MURDER” TV commercial for Loftus is way over the top. Still, the number of times they’ve paid to put that on the air indicates how close they think this race is.
But no, I really don’t think this is a battle for the soul of San Francisco. Just a piece of it.