San Francisco voters recalled District Attorney Chesa Boudin on June 7, 2022. Mayor London Breed will appoint a temporary replacement, who will serve until voters elect a permanent district attorney in November.
Boudin was elected district attorney in 2019, defeating Suzy Loftus 50.8% to 49.2% in a ranked-choice voting election. Previously, Boudin served as deputy public defender in the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office. He earned a bachelor’s and a law degree from Yale University and a master’s degree from Oxford University in England.
Supporters alleged Boudin’s approach to crime led to increased crime rates. Boudin said his goal had been reforming the criminal justice system and that the recall was politically motivated. In his statement of defense, Boudin said reform was needed because “the old approaches did not make us safer; they ignored root causes of crime and perpetuated mass incarceration.”
A group called San Franciscans for Public Safety started the recall effort on April 28, 2021. According to The San Francisco Examiner, the effort was led by a pair of Democratic activists “seeking to prevent the recall effort against District Attorney Chesa Boudin from being framed as a conservative power grab.” Organizers had until October 25, 2021, to gather a minimum of 51,325 signatures in order to qualify the recall for the ballot. Supporters submitted approximately 83,000 signatures. Director of Elections John Arntz announced on November 9, 2021, that there were enough valid signatures to put the recall election on the ballot.
The Notice of Intent that recall supporters published said, “Boudin is not keeping San Francisco safe. He refuses to adequately prosecute criminals and fails to take the drug dealing crisis seriously. He doesn’t hold serial offenders accountable, getting them released from custody, and his response to victims is that “hopefully” home burglaries will go down…Recalling someone shouldn’t be taken lightly, but San Francisco can’t wait two more years to improve public safety and fix our criminal justice system. Chesa Boudin must go — now.”
Boudin’s statement of defense said, “This is yet another recall relying on FALSE AND DISPROVEN REPUBLICAN talking points attempting to undo progress and take us backwards. Recalls are not political tools for people who lose elections. Voters thoughtfully and carefully elected DA Boudin because they support his work to reform an unjust system that too often criminalized poverty, addiction, and mental illness; failed to hold violent police accountable; and targeted people of color…DA Boudin is COMMITTED TO PUBLIC SAFETY, and to reforming the criminal justice system to provide safety, justice, and fairness for all San Franciscans.”
The San Franciscans for Public Safety’s recall effort was one of two initiated against Boudin in 2021. The first was started by Richie Greenberg, who previously ran for mayor as a Republican. The effort failed because organizers did not succeed in collecting 51,325 valid signatures by the deadline.
The Boudin recall was the second one to take place against a San Francisco elected official in 2022. In February, a majority of voters cast ballots in favor of recalling San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education members Gabriela López, Alison Collins, and Faauuga Moliga.
Before this year’s recall of San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education members, then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein was the last elected official in the city to face a recall election—in 1983. Feinstein survived the recall with 81% of the vote in her favor.