What to know
LA District Attorney Jackie Lacey faces challenger George Gascón, who heads the country's largest local prosecutor. Lacey became the first black person and woman to run the office in 2012. Gascón, a 30-year-old LAPD veteran, was also the chief of police and the district attorney in San Francisco.
Acting Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey is challenged by a former Los Angeles Police Department deputy chief and the San Francisco District Attorney in a high profile election campaign to head the country's largest local prosecutor.
The public prosecutor's office operates an office with almost 1,000 lawyers in the country's most populous district. Some see this breed as the crown jewel for progressives seeking to reshape the way crimes are prosecuted at the local level.
Here is an overview of the candidates, links to news about them, and other resources to help you make your decision.
There's nothing better than trying a case. You understand the nuances of the law, the witnesses and how jurors think and what it takes to prove cases, the mechanics of it.
– Jackie Lacey
Los Angeles District Attorney
Lacey became the first woman and black to head the country's largest local prosecutor in 2012. She is a career prosecutor, manager, and executive in the district attorney's office. She was re-elected for a second term in 2016 without objection.
As detailed on her website, she lists top priorities, including protecting the streets of Los Angeles County from violent and dangerous criminals, protecting children from human trafficking, and protecting seniors from financial abuse by the elderly. She also places great emphasis on protecting communities from environmental crimes.
I'm the one who can take LA County into a different future. We shouldn't go on doing business like we've done in the past.
– George Gascon
Candidate for the LA District Attorney
Lacey has highlighted her experience as a prosecutor and stated that Gascón has never tried a case before a judge. She also says her ability to run the office is a primary reason for voters to support her.
In a recent online debate, she said she had tried 100 criminal and misdemeanor cases in her career. She said trying cases is key to understanding how the department works.
"There's nothing like trying a case," she said. "You understand the nuances of the law, the witnesses and how jurors think and what it takes to prove cases, the mechanics of it."
Her recommendations include US Senator Dianne Feinstein and US Congress women Judy Chu and Norma Torres. She was also supported by the Los Angeles County Firefighters, IAFF Local 1014, the United Firefighters Of Los Angeles City (UFLAC) Local 112, the Los Angeles / Orange County Building Trades Council, and the Los Angeles Sentinel.
George Gascón, a Cuban immigrant from Cudahy, spent three decades in the LAPD, working his way from patrolman to deputy chief under former chief William Bratton. After leaving the department, he became chief of the Mesa Police Department in Arizona in 2006. In 2009 he became chief of the San Francisco Police Department and 2011 District Attorney in San Francisco.
Gascón supports criminal justice reform and prefers mental health and drug treatment over incarceration.
In the online debate, he said that in the past he had run large organizations and reduced crime.
"I am the one who can bring LA County into a different future," he said in the debate. "We shouldn't go on doing business like we did in the past."
He says if elected he would set up a Crime Strategies Unit, a team of prosecutors, analysts, and investigators, to use data to fight chronic crime and repeat offenders. He says he would also implement a weapons enforcement unit.
His recommendations include California Governor Gavin Newsom, Vice President and Senator Kamala Harris, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. The Democratic Party of California and LA County, the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Daily News have endorsed him.
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