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Politics & Policy

Supervisor Stefani endorses recall of DA Chesa Boudin

Supervisor Catherine Stefani smiles ahead of a introducing an initiative for the June 2022 ballot that would create an office of support for domestic violence survivors on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021 at City Hall in San Francisco. I Gabrielle Lurie / The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Supervisor Catherine Stefani came forward Tuesday as the first elected official in San Francisco to endorse the recall of District Attorney Chesa Boudin.

Stefani—considered by many to be a potential appointee as San Francisco’s next top prosecutor if Boudin is recalled in June’s election—could not be immediately reached for comment as she was in a Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday evening, but a staffer provided The Standard with a letter she was scheduled to send out to constituents Wednesday.

Stefani wrote that the district attorney is “failing” to keep San Franciscans safe and “we cannot afford to wait any longer.”

“The District Attorney claims to be a progressive prosecutor, but his approach to domestic violence is taking us backwards,” the supervisor wrote, noting that Boudin charged 13 out of 131 felony domestic violence cases brought to his office in the last quarter of 2020. “He has abandoned victims when they need our support the most.”

Julie Edwards, a spokesperson for Boudin’s anti-recall campaign, slammed the supervisor’s endorsement in a statement Tuesday evening.

”If Catherine Stefani wants to run for District Attorney, she should go to the voters in 2023,” Edwards said. ”But there’s something profoundly undemocratic about endorsing a recall because she's hoping to be appointed to the job without facing the voters.”

In her letter, Stefani also took issue with the way Boudin has used diversion programs for street-level drug dealers. 

“On his watch, 1,300 people have died from drug overdoses in San Francisco,” Stefani said. “That’s almost twice the amount of San Franciscans who have died from COVID-19. Meanwhile, the District Attorney has failed to send a single drug dealer to prison.”

Boudin’s time as district attorney has been a polarizing moment in time for the city, as he has sought to reform the criminal justice system and hold police accountable for allegations of excessive force with the backdrop of the pandemic. He has also clashed with SFPD Chief Bill Scott and faced veiled criticism from Mayor London Breed and others.

Still, neither the chief nor the mayor and other supervisors—outside of Stefani—have publicly called for Boudin to be recalled.

“We cannot deny what we see all around us. People don’t feel safe in our City anymore,” Stefani wrote. “And sadly, with Chesa Boudin in office, they have little reason to expect that to change. To have any prayer of making real progress, we need a District Attorney who will put aside ideology, who will seek to listen rather than to be heard, and who will take the problems we face seriously.”