SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Defending her decision to appoint her favored candidate as district attorney weeks before a hotly disputed election, San Francisco Mayor London Breed said Friday the office is too important to leave vacant.
“The District Attorney’s Office is so critical,” Breed said Friday after announcing her appointment of former Police Commission president Suzy Loftus, one of four candidates vying to replace resigning DA George Gascon.
Gascon told Breed in a letter Thursday he would step down on Oct. 18 amid speculation that he is planning to run for district attorney in Los Angeles.
Besieged with questions about the fairness of her decision, Breed insisted voters will still get a say come Nov. 5, but felt it necessary to appoint someone as top prosecutor she can trust in the interest of public safety.
“We should never leave a major office open because someone decides to resign close to an election,” Breed said, adding that no one should “play politics with a decision like this.”
But that’s exactly what her critics accused her of doing – placing her thumb on the scale to help Loftus win one month before Election Day.
“It’s very crooked,” San Francisco resident Adrienne Fong said, one of several people protesting the decision at a Chinatown park Friday. “It’s not fair to San Franciscans nor the other candidates.”
The press conference announcing the decision was abruptly moved from an outdoor park in Chinatown to an indoor restaurant banquet hall after protesters started shouting “jail killer cops” and criticizing Loftus’ record on police accountability. The protesters followed Loftus from the park to the restaurant, heckling her.
Maria Gutierrez, a protester with Mothers on the March Against Police Murders, said Loftus “didn’t do one little thing to bring police officers to justice” after a series of deadly police shootings between 2014 and 2016.
A Loftus campaign spokeswoman said the candidate terminated more police officers for misconduct during her time as police commission president than ever before. Loftus was also at the helm when the department updated its use-of-force policies for the first time in 20 years and started making all officers wear body cameras.
Acknowledging the protesters during her speech Friday, Loftus said, “For everyone whose trust I’ve yet to earn, I will work hard every day to build a justice system that works for everyone.”
Loftus said she would focus on protecting people’s civil rights and prosecuting people for scamming consumers, among other priorities.
Other candidates running for San Francisco District Attorney include San Francisco Deputy Public Defender Chesa Boudin, Deputy California Attorney General Leif Dautch and Alameda County Deputy DA Nancy Tung.
Boudin, who has raised the most money in the campaign so far – $505,800 compared to Loftus’ $502,000 – mentioned Loftus’ appointment in a fundraising plea on Twitter Friday.
“We can’t let the establishment tip the scale in San Francisco’s first open DA race in over 100 years,” Boudin tweeted.
This was supposed to be the first San Francisco district attorney election without an incumbent running in more than a century, but that will change when Loftus assumes the position later this month.