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San Francisco voters recall liberal district attorney Chesa Boudin

San Francisco voters recall liberal district attorney Chesa Boudin
Recall proponents blame Boudin for a rise in crimes in the liberal enclave

Residents of San Francisco voted decisively on Tuesday to recall Democrat district attorney Chesa Boudin over rising crime, policing and public safety reforms.

Partial returns showed Mr Boudin is set to be ousted as 61 per cent of the ballots are in favour of the recall, according to Edison Research.

Recall proponents blamed Mr Boudin, 41, for progressive policies that led to a spike in gun violence and other crimes during the Covid pandemic.

The DA was the target of a multi-million-dollar recall campaign by residents who claimed the liberal California enclave has become an increasingly unsafe place to live in.

The attorney, who is the son of left-wing Weather Underground radicals, has reportedly been accused of being ideologically inflexible and often siding with criminals.

The first-time political candidate was elected to office with a thin margin in November 2019 as part of a national wave of progressive prosecutors who pledged to reform the criminal justice system, seek alternatives to incarceration and end a racist war on drugs while holding police officers accountable.

The recall effort was backed by those who voted to oust three members of the city’s school board in February this year.

The campaign divided Democrats, with several of them backing the recall in a city where Republicans are a minority. A section of the Democrats, however, said it was a Republican power grab effort to undermine public safety reforms.

The city has long struggled with a plethora of street crimes, including open drug dealing, vandalism and auto theft.

Mr Boudin was a child when his parents served as drivers in a botched 1981 robbery in New York that left two police officers and a security guard dead. His parents were in prison for decades.

During his campaign, he narrated his account of stepping through metal detectors to hug his parents and vowed to reform a system that tears apart families. His mother Kathy Boudin was released on parole in 2003 and died of cancer in May, while his father David Gilbert was granted parole in October 2021.

As DA, Mr Boudin had filed the city’s first homicide charges against a police officer for an on-duty shooting. Prior to the ballot, he defended his policies by saying: “We make mistakes every day.”

“We’re managing tens of thousands of arrests every year. We have a very tight timeline, set by state law, to make charging decisions. We always have imperfect information,” Mr Boudin told San Francisco-based news outlet SFGATE.

“Some significant percentage of people who are arrested in any jurisdiction in this country are going to be released and go on to commit very serious crimes,” he added.

Mayor London Breed is expected to appoint a temporary successor to fill the DA’s post in the liberal California city.

Additional reporting by agencies