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Recall effort against Los Angeles District Attorney approved to circulate petitions

An effort to recall George Gascón from his position as the Los Angeles County District Attorney in California has been approved to circulate petitions. To get the recall on the ballot, supporters must collect 579,062 signatures from registered voters in the county by October 27.

The notice of intent to recall said Gascón had abandoned crime victims and their families, disregarded the rule of law, weakened sentencing requirements for violent crimes, and reduced sentences on hate, gun, and gang crimes.

Gascón was elected to a four-year term on Nov. 3, defeating incumbent Jackie Lacey with 53.5% of the vote. He campaigned on policies of “not seeking the death penalty; not prosecuting juveniles as adults; ending cash bail for misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies; and no longer filing enhancements that trigger stiffer sentences for certain elements of crimes, repeat offenses or being a gang member,” according to KTLA 5. Gascón said the opponents of his policies were fearmongers. “They continue to follow the playbook of the ‘80s and ’90s,” Gascón said. “It’s a simple message, right? Scare the heck out of people, and hopefully that will work for you.”

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced his support of the recall. Fourteen cities in Los Angeles County had passed votes of no confidence in Gascón as of May 20, 2021.

In 2020, Ballotpedia covered a total of 227 recall efforts against 279 elected officials. Of the 49 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 29 were recalled for a rate of 59%. That was higher than the 52% rate for 2019 recalls but lower than the 63% rate for 2018 recalls.

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Ballotpedia identifies 20 local police-related ballot measures decided Nov. 3

Following the killing of George Floyd on May 25, cities and counties introduced police-related measures. Ballotpedia tracked 20 such measures that appeared on the Nov. 3 ballot. 

All 20 measures were approved or were ahead pending the count of remaining ballots. Note: All vote counts were as of 6:00 p.m. EST on Nov. 11.

Cities and counties that approved these police-related issues in November included:

○ Los Angeles County, California

○ Oakland, California

○ San Diego, California

○ San Francisco, California

○ San Jose, California

○ Sonoma County, California

○ DuPage County, Illinois

○ Akron, Ohio

○ Columbus, Ohio

○ Portland, Oregon

○ Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

○ Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

○ Kyle, Texas

○ King County, Washington

Three notable measures among the 20 were:

Los Angeles County Measure J – This measure requires that no less than 10% of the county’s general fund be appropriated to community programs and alternatives to incarceration. It prohibited the use of those funds for incarceration or law enforcement purposes.

Columbus Issue 2 – This measure created the Civilian Police Review Board to investigate alleged police misconduct, subpoena testimony and evidence during the investigations, make recommendations to the Division of Police, and appoint and manage the new position of Inspector General for the Division of Police. Prior to Nov. 2020, Columbus did not have a police oversight board or commission or an equivalent agency. According to the National Fraternal Order of Police, 20 of the 25 largest city police departments in the U.S. had an oversight board or commission in place as of the beginning of 2020.

Portland Measure 26-217 – This measure amended the city charter to establish a new police oversight board to replace the existing police review board. It allows the new board to subpoena witnesses, request police documents and evidence to investigate complaints made against the Portland Police Bureau, and impose disciplinary actions up to termination of law enforcement professionals. It also authorizes the board to recommend policing policy to the Portland Police Bureau and Portland City Council.

George Gascón defeats incumbent Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey

George Gascón defeated incumbent Jackie Lacey in the nonpartisan general election for Los Angeles County District Attorney, the nation’s largest local prosecutorial district.

Gascón served two terms as San Francisco District Attorney, winning election to succeed Kamala Harris in 2011 and winning re-election unopposed in 2015. He did not seek election to a third term in 2019. Lacey was first elected as Los Angeles County District Attorney in 2012 and was re-elected unopposed in 2016.

Lacey was the first-place finisher in the March 3 nonpartisan primary, winning 49% of the vote to Gascón’s 28%. Preliminary returns suggest Gascón won 54% of the general election vote to Lacey’s 47%.

Jackie Lacey, George Gascón running in Los Angeles County’s district attorney election

Incumbent Jackie Lacey and George Gascón are running in the nonpartisan general election for Los Angeles district attorney on November 3, 2020. Both candidates completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. To learn more about what motivates them on political and personal levels, click here.

Gascón worked as a police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department from 1978 to 2006 and San Francisco’s district attorney from 2011 to 2019. Lacey was a deputy district attorney with the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office from 1986 to 2012 and has served as Los Angeles’ district attorney since 2012. 

In the nonpartisan March 2020 primary, Lacey and Gascón advanced with 48.7% and 28.2% of the vote, respectively. In 2012, Lacey defeated Alan Jackson 55% to 45%. In 2016, she ran unopposed. Gascón was first elected as San Francisco district attorney in 2011 in a ranked-choice voting election, winning 62% to 38% in the third round of vote allocations. In 2015, he ran unopposed.

This race drew media attention following protests over use of force by law enforcement and the death of George Floyd. Both candidates mentioned the topic in their responses to Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. Lacey said she “helped to train over 2,000 law enforcement officers on how to deescalate situations involving people with mental health problems.” Gascón said he would “hold law enforcement accountable to help rebuild the trust between the community and law enforcement officers.”

The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office is the largest local prosecutorial office in the country. The Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising at Harvard Law School defined a prosecutor as “the government attorney who charges and tries cases against individuals accused of crimes.” Los Angeles’ district attorney prosecutes felonies in Los Angeles County and misdemeanors in unincorporated parts of the county and in all of the county’s cities, except Burbank, Hawthorne, Hermosa Beach, Inglewood, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Redondo Beach, Santa Monica, and Torrance.

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