After eight years as District Attorney of San Francisco, George Gascón announced Tuesday that he does not plan to run for re-election next November.
“After two successful elections, I began preparation for a third full term,” he said in a statement sent out Tuesday afternoon. “Knowing full well what is involved in running a winning campaign, my mother’s weakened health weighed heavily on my mind. She is ninety years old and has much greater needs than when I took office. I am her only child and have the responsibility to be there for her. It became clear that launching a re-election campaign would not be compatible with taking care of her adequately in this moment of need. As her son, I must meet that obligation. There is no acceptable alternative. At this time, I simply cannot be the son I want to be and seek a third term.”
During Gascón’s reign, San Francisco’s homicide rate has dropped, auto burglaries appear to have been reduced, and old marijuana convictions from before Proposition 64 passed were overturned.
But Gascón has also faced pressure from anti-police-violence activists, who’ve slammed his refusal to press charges against officers who fatally shot a number of people across the city in recent years, including those involved in the deaths of Mario Woods and Luis Góngora Pat, both of which received a hefty amount of media coverage.
The two shootings came in the midst of a slew of fatal use-of-force from SFPD, who also killed Alex Nieto on March 21, 2014, and Amilcar Perez Lopez on Feb. 26, 2015. After Jessica Williams was fatally shot by police on May 19, 2016, then-Police Chief Greg Suhr resigned.
In Gascón’s statement, he made what appears to be a subtle nod to that controversy. “The job of District Attorney is an enormous responsibility,” he said. “It requires doing the right thing, even when it is unpopular, perhaps especially when it is unpopular, To do it well requires a serious commitment of time and energy.”
San Francisco generally loves an incumbent, and with Gascón out of the November 2019 race, it opens the position up to any number of candidates. Chief among them will no doubt be former-Police Commission President Suzy Loftus, who pulled papers earlier this month, pledging to provide transparency during investigations of police violence, cycling low-level offenders out of a “broken system,” and addressing the safety needs of the city’s most vulnerable.
Leif Dautch, a deputy attorney general for the State of California, has also got an early start on the race.