The District Attorney (DA) serves as the City and County of San Francisco’s chief law enforcement officer, supervising investigations and prosecutions of criminal offenses. The seat is being contested in the November 8 election following Chesa Boudin’s June 7, 2022 recall. The winner will serve the remainder of Boudin’s disrupted term, until January 2024.
Four candidates are on the ballot: Brooke Jenkins, Joe Alioto Veronese, John Hamasaki, and Maurice Chenier.
Following Boudin’s removal from office, Mayor London Breed appointed Jenkins as interim DA on July 8, 2022. Jenkins had served as Assistant DA from 2014 to 2021, when, unhappy with Boudin’s policies, she resigned from office. Jenkins played a lead role in the Boudin recall campaign. Her priorities are to reduce violent and repeat offenses and crackdown on drug dealers.
Jenkins has been endorsed by State Senator Scott Weiner, Mayor Breed, Supervisors Matt Dorsey, Rafael Mandelman, Ahsha Safaí, and Catherine Stefani, as well as the Alice B. Toklas Democratic, United Democratic, and Chinese American Democratic clubs. Jenkins didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Hamasaki is a criminal defense attorney and served as a San Francisco Police Commissioner. He believes Jenkins’ is insufficiently independent from Mayor Breed, and wants to expand the political corruption unit, among other priorities.
“I think one of the most pressing issues is restoring accountability in the District Attorney’s office,” Hamasaki said. “It feels very political right now, as it has since the recall. I think there’s a problem right now in that we have the District Attorney and the City Attorney, both appointed by Mayor London breed, as the two investigating agencies within the City.”
Hamasaki is endorsed by the San Francisco Democratic Party, Supervisor Dean Preston, and the Harvey Milk Democratic Club.
Alioto Veronese began his career in 1992 as a San Francisco Police Department officer, where he served for three years. For the next five years he was the youngest Senior DA investigator for fraud. He was appointed to the San Francisco Police Commission in 2004 by former Mayor Gavin Newsom, and placed on the Criminal Justice Commission in 2005, where he served for seven years. He successfully supported provision of $100 million towards rehabilitation reentry for people released from prison. Alioto Veronese was a Fire Commissioner from 2017 to 2020, during which he worked to build a peer support unit for firefighters.
Alioto Veronese said that he’s running for DA because of the “lack of attention to the City and its needs, despite the fact we are spending billions and billions of dollars.”
“I am on a mission to rescue San Francisco from the gloom that it’s currently in,” he said.
Alioto Veronese wants to improve what he believes is an “inept” municipal government. He proposes to form a task force to address San Francisco’s fentanyl crisis, with a focus on arresting dealers. He’d re-establish the DA’s Misdemeanor Division to target car break-ins and property crimes.
Alioto Veronese would reinstate a political corruption unit because “politicians are stealing money from San Francisco. One of my first moves would be to remove the appointment authority of the Chief of Police away from the mayor who politicizes the position and inappropriately exerts her authority.”
Chenier is a private litigation and trial attorney whose been in practice for 29 years. He describes himself as the most pro-police, law and order candidate. He’s the only non-Democrat running for DA, registered as an independent. He challenged Kamala Harris in the 2007 DA race but withdrew due to a lack of campaign funds.
Chenier has served as a law clerk to the California Department of Justice Antitrust Division and later, the Federal Public Defender’s office in San Jose. He could not be reached for comment.