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Many Asian Americans voted Chesa Boudin out. But what do they want in a new DA?

A view down Waverly Place in Chinatown on Dec. 28, 2021 in San Francisco, Calif. | Camile Cohen/The Standard

San Francisco Mayor London Breed will soon appoint a new district attorney to replace Chesa Boudin, who was recalled in a nationally watched election this past month.

Among all the ethnic groups, Asian Americans showed the strongest support to remove the progressive prosecutor. As the mayor’s decision day approaches, many of San Francisco’s Asian community members are starting to weigh in.

Records obtained by The Standard show that multiple Chinatown businesses and the National Asian Pacific Islander Prosecutors Association have sent letters to Breed urging her to pick Nancy Tung, a former DA candidate who lost to Boudin in 2019 and now works as an Alameda County prosecutor.

There’s also a letter template supporting Tung that’s circulating on Chinese social media, asking the public to sign and send it to the mayor’s office. 

Sources reveal that about 200 letters supporting Tung have been sent to Breed, while other rumored potential appointees have only a few letters—less than 10 in all.

Larry Yee, a member of the Police Commission and a longtime Chinatown leader, said he would like to see Tung as DA.

“I’ll advocate for Nancy Tung because she’s an experienced district attorney and comes from the community,” he said.

Yee said he expressed as much to Breed, saying he thinks San Francisco is “absolutely” ready for its first Chinese American DA.

Other community members also told The Standard that they have met with the mayor to lobby for Tung, including Southeast Facility Community Commissioner and Visitacion Valley resident Marlene Tran and SF CAUSE founder Dennis Wu.

They cited that Tung’s community connection and career experience in the San Francisco and Alameda County DA’s office made her stand out from the other potential contenders. 

“She’s the only one understanding the Asian culture,” Wu said. “And we are 36% of the population.”

San Francisco District Attorney candidate Nancy Tung at Supervisor Catherine Stefani's community meeting in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, February 5, 2019. | Scott Strazzante/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Tung is considered the most “tough-on-crime” prosecutor in the 2019 DA's race. She was nominated as police commissioner by Breed in 2020 but got rejected by the Board of Supervisors.

That same year, Tung was elected to the San Francisco Democratic Party board.

Tung said “it would be an honor” to serve as DA.

While she feels humbled by the community’s support, she said she will support whoever Breed picks.

However, Joyce Lam, the political director of the Chinese Progressive Association, said she hopes the mayoral appointee wouldn’t revert to a traditional “tough-on-crime” approach.

“We don’t want to go back to mass incarceration or higher sentences,” Lam said.

She said she hopes the new DA will prioritize victim services—especially for Asian victims.

Lam declined to comment on Tung specifically, and said she looks forward to knowing more about candidates in the running for November’s DA race to serve out the rest of Boudin’s term, which ends in 2024.

The mayor’s office said Breed continues to talk to community leaders about the appointment. 

Boudin is expected to vacate his seat by the end of next week.

Han Li can be reached at