Politics

D.A. Candidate Column – Leif Dautch

Dautch Hi-ResWhen it comes to homelessness, car break-ins and police accountability, the San Francisco district attorney’s office has been part of the problem – I’m running to make it part of the solution. 

With the first open-seat race for district attorney in 110 years, it’s no time to settle for the status quo. Let’s chart a fundamentally new course and demand the accountability we deserve: accountability for our city leaders failing to address the homeless and mental health crisis, accountability for those driving the spike in property crime and accountability for those who violate the public trust.

I work on these issues every day as a deputy attorney general. Over the past seven years, I’ve prosecuted more than 400 criminal cases, from trials to arguing before the California Supreme Court. I’m also an assistant supervisor, making me the only candidate in the D.A.’s race who is both a prosecutor and who manages a team of prosecutors. 

But my passion for criminal justice started much earlier. When I was growing up, my mom worked night shifts as a nurse at a juvenile hall. She’d get home from work as my sister and I were getting ready for school and tell us about the kids she was working with. My mom was so moved by those kids that she convinced us to become foster parents. We took in a dozen kids over the course of a decade, eventually adopting two kids: my younger brother Ian and my little sister Elissa. I saw firsthand the effects of trauma and poverty, but I also saw amazing people like my mom working within the justice system to ensure that a one-time mistake did not turn into a life of crime. 

It was that childhood exposure to the justice system that set me on this path. A path that took me from a small organic farm in rural California to Yale, to Harvard Law, to clerking on the Ninth Circuit, to serving as the president of the San Francisco Juvenile Probation Commission and for the past seven years, working as a deputy attorney general.

But now, we face a crossroads in our City. We have the highest property crime rates in the nation. We have a broken justice system that sees 70 percent of people return to jail within three years of release. And we have a humanitarian and public health crisis playing out on our streets. As district attorney, I will tackle these problems head-on by:

• Launching an auto burglary task force to prosecute the organized rings breaking into our cars by the dozen. Out of 31,000 reported car break-ins in 2017, the D.A.’s office only took one of those cases to trial in the whole year! That stops with me; 

• Opening a mental health justice center for those battling mental illness on our streets. We can stay willfully blind to the mental health crisis, or we can finally help people get the help they need; 

• Prioritizing the investigation and prosecution of sexual assaults. We should follow the lead of 18 states and create a website where survivors of sexual assault can anonymously track the status of their rape kit;

• Holding police officers accountable for misconduct. No one is above the law, including those who protect and serve.

With an experienced prosecutor at the helm of the district attorney’s office, we can build a city that is both compassionate and safe. I’m proud to be joined in this effort by a broad array of groups and leaders from across the City, from the San Francisco Firefighters and Deputy Sheriffs’ Association to state Treasurer Fiona Ma and former Public Defender Geoffrey Brown. They are ready for a new approach and I hope you are as well. I’d be honored to earn your vote this November. 

For more information, visit leif2019.com.

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