Brooke Jenkins waited exactly a month after being sworn in as San Francisco’s district attorney to file paperwork with the city ensuring her name appears on the ballot in November’s election.
Actions she has taken to reshape the office since voters recalled her former boss, Chesa Boudin—such as firing more than a dozen prosecutors and reversing course in the way drug dealing cases are prosecuted—have been met with mixed reviews, which was to be expected after such a politically charged campaign.
Jenkins’ role as the lead spokesperson for the “Yes on H” ballot measure campaign, which ousted Boudin by a 55-45 margin, has in many ways raised the pressure for her to show progress is being made between now and November.
“As we know, on June 7, the voters in San Francisco spoke very loudly that they wanted something different, that they wanted to take this city back in the right direction,” Jenkins said to a group of supporters Monday. “And that is what I've been doing for the past 30 days, is trying to get the office back on track and trying to put this city back in a position to thrive and be the beautiful city that we know it is.”
Jenkins said her top priority over the past month has been working with police on a crackdown to “eradicate these open-air drug markets that are going on.” The city has seen a surge in drug possession and paraphernalia citations handed out by police in recent weeks, although it appears the DA’s office does not intend to prosecute these crimes after charges were erroneously filed.
The more concrete change in the DA’s office since Jenkins took over is the way in which fentanyl dealers will face harsher penalties and prosecutors will seek longer jail sentences. Under Boudin, many drug dealers were routinely given plea agreements that charged them as an accessory to a crime rather than being the person actually dealing drugs.
Jenkins previously filed paperwork in mid-July signaling her intent to run for the seat after she received an appointment from Mayor London Breed. Monday’s actions solidified that intent ahead of Friday’s deadline for candidates to file paperwork and appear on the ballot.
Supervisor Matt Dorsey, who also took office this year through a mayoral appointment, joined Jenkins and her supporters Monday to speak in favor of her candidacy. He said the new DA reminds him of another woman who oversaw the office: Vice President Kamala Harris.
“[Harris] said, ‘It's a false choice between soft on crime and tough on crime. In San Francisco, it's about being smart on crime,’” Dorsey told the crowd. “I have not been this excited about a DA's race since then, and I'm really excited to be supporting Brooke.”
On Thursday, Boudin announced he would not seek to retake the office this November, but the field of candidates for DA could grow this week. The only other candidates who have filed paperwork with the city’s Department of Elections are attorneys Joe Alioto Veronese and Maurice Chenier.
In a statement last week, Alioto-Veronese told The Standard that the city “needs a crime fighter” in its next permanent DA. Whoever wins this fall’s election will serve out the remainder of Boudin’s term, which was set to end in 2024, before likely running again next year.
“San Francisco needs a DA with one focus: getting violent criminals off our streets,” Alioto Veronese said. “And San Francisco needs it done with ethics and integrity.”
Josh Koehn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org