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Nine candidates running in Los Angeles’ mayoral primary election

Nine candidates are running in the June 7, 2022, primary for mayor of Los Angeles, California. Incumbent Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) could not run for re-election due to term limits.

Karen Bass (D) and Rick Caruso (D) have led the field in media coverage and fundraising. Though the election is officially nonpartisan, both candidates are registered Democrats. Caruso announced he changed his party registration from no party preference to Democrat in January 2022. Bass has held elected office as a Democrat since 2005.

Bass was first elected to public office in 2004 to serve in the California State Assembly. She served in the Assembly from 2005 to 2010 and was speaker from 2008 to 2010. Bass was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 and currently represents California’s 37th Congressional District. In a campaign ad, Bass said, “I’m running for mayor to meet today’s challenges: crime, homelessness, and the soaring cost of housing.”

Caruso is the founder and chief executive officer of a retail complex development company. He has also served on Los Angeles’ Department of Water and Power Commission, as the president of Los Angeles’ Police Commission, and on the USC Board of Trustees. In a campaign ad, Caruso said, “I’m running for mayor because the city we love is in a state of emergency: rampant homelessness, people living in fear for their safety, and politicians at city hall just in it for themselves.”

Public safety has been a top issue in the race. A Caruso campaign ad said, “As Police Commission president, [Caruso] took on city hall politicians and cut crime 30%. As mayor, Caruso won’t defund the police. He’ll invest in making L.A. safer with 1,500 new officers, increase youth crime prevention, and crack down on illegal guns and retail theft.” 

Bass said she would hire police officers and civilian workers in police departments to add at least 250 officers to patrol, invest in programs to address causes of crime, and establish an Office of Community Safety “to develop a neighborhood-specific strategy to re-envision public safety, and ensure that the needs of individual communities are met.”

Craig Greiwe, Alex Gruenenfelder, John Jackson, Andrew Kim, Gina Viola, Mel Wilson, and Kevin de León are also running in the primary. Joe Buscaino unofficially withdrew from the race on May 12 and endorsed Caruso, Mike Feuer unofficially withdrew on May 17 and endorsed Bass, and Ramit Varma unofficially withdrew on May 23 and endorsed Caruso. Buscaino, Feuer, and Varma will still appear on the primary ballot.

A candidate can win the election outright with more than 50% of the vote in the primary. If no candidate meets that threshold, the top two vote-getters will advance to a November 8 general election. Since 1933, every open election for Los Angeles mayor has advanced to a general election. Heading into the election, the last time a candidate won an open election for mayor outright in the primary was in 1929. 

This is the first even-year election for Los Angeles mayor since the 2015 passage of Charter Amendment 1, which shifted city elections to even-numbered years beginning in 2020.

Prosecutors, public defender running in primary for Office 67 of the Superior Court of Los Angeles county

Three candidates—Fernanda Maria Barreto, Ryan Dibble, and Elizabeth Lashley-Haynes—are running in the nonpartisan primary for Office 67 of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. The top two vote-getters will advance to the November general election. While the race is officially nonpartisan, meaning candidates will appear on the ballot without party labels, all three candidates have been endorsed by at least one organization affiliated with the Democratic Party.

The Los Angeles Times‘ editorial board wrote, “For many years, the most successful judicial candidates were prosecutors, presumably because voters believed that they would … deal more harshly with criminal defendants,” but added that “[t]his year there are several deputy public defenders running, an interesting development that’s part of the broader movement for criminal justice reform.”

In the primary for Office 67, Barreto and Dibble both have prosecutorial experience, working as deputy district attorneys in Los Angeles County. Lashley-Haynes is a deputy public defender in the county’s public defender office. All three candidates have highlighted their respective backgrounds.

Barreto said she “has worked tirelessly … to protect particularly vulnerable populations by handling complex felony cases including murder, rape, and domestic violence,” adding that she “has taken great pride in helping victims of crimes … while also building a reputation as being a fair prosecutor.”

Dibble highlighted his experience with roles in the Major Narcotics and Hardcore Gang Divisions, saying he “worked on cases to help some of the most vulnerable members of our community for whom violence and its consequences are so devastating.”

Lashley-Haynes said, “LA County courts have been dominated by those whose principal legal experiences have involved prosecuting offenders,” saying that her experience as a public defender “provides the kind of … perspective to begin to make Los Angeles the leader in criminal justice reform.”

All three candidates have received and promoted endorsements from individuals and organizations. The Los Angeles Times, the Burbank Police Officers’ Association, and 21 superior court judges in the county endorsed Barretto. The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, the Long Beach Police Officers Association, and 38 superior court judges in the county endorsed Dibble. The Los Angeles County Democratic Party, the Los Angeles County Public Defenders Union, and four superior court judges in the county endorsed Lashley-Haynes.

Judges on the Superior Court of Los Angeles County conduct all original trials in the county, except in cases where appellate level courts have original jurisdiction. According to the court’s website, “Cases range from simple traffic infractions to murders; landlord/tenant disputes to multi-million dollar lawsuits; guardianships to involuntary commitments.”

Petitions to recall Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón approved for circulation

Petitions to recall George Gascón from his position as the Los Angeles County District Attorney in California were approved for circulation on Jan. 27. To get the recall on the ballot, supporters must collect 566,857 signatures by July 6.

Recall supporters served Gascón with a notice of intent to recall on Dec. 7. They said that crime had risen in the county since Gascón had taken office. They published the following statement on their website about why they were pursuing a recall:

“As soon as he was sworn into office, District Attorney George Gascón began issuing directives to his prosecutors, instructing them to go soft on crime, coddle criminals, and trample upon the dignity and rights of crime victims. To keep our communities safe, to mete out just punishment to those who break our laws, and to provide justice to crime victims throughout Los Angles County, we must recall District Attorney George Gascón.”

At a press conference in December, Gascón defended his policies and said he was not responsible for the rise in homicides and robberies in the county. “We are trying to dramatically change a system that has served no one, not the victims of crime, not those who are accused and not the public,” Gascón said.

Gascón said he was trying to make the criminal justice system more efficient and more equitable. “We’re trying really hard to use the science that is currently available, the data that is currently available, to do our work,” Gascón said. “And I’m not going to be intimidated by political rhetoric.”

An earlier recall attempt against Gascón did not go to a vote in 2021. Recall supporters announced on Sept. 16 that they had not gathered enough signatures to meet the filing deadline.

Gascón was elected to a four-year term in the nonpartisan general election on Nov. 3, 2020, defeating incumbent Jackie Lacey with 53.5% of the vote.

In 2021, Ballotpedia covered a total of 351 recall efforts against 537 elected officials. This was the highest number of recall efforts and officials targeted since we started compiling data on recalls in 2012.

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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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