Los Angeles District Attorney candidates: Jackie Lacey and George Gascón


Sloane Bozzi, News Editor

The Los Angeles County District Attorney seat is being sought after this November by two candidates with long careers in the criminal justice system: current L.A. County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey and San Francisco Dist. Atty. George Gascón.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney is the largest attorney’s office in the nation. Over 1,000 deputy district attorneys who represent the people of the State of California serve under the district attorney.

Lacey is a two-term incumbent. She was elected as district attorney in 2012 and was re-elected in 2016 after running unopposed.

She is also the first woman and first Black person to serve as L.A. County district attorney.

Lacey founded and currently chairs the Criminal Justice Mental Health Project of Los Angeles County, which aims to keep people with mental illness from getting convicted for non-violent offenses.

Issue areas Lacey hopes to continue to work toward if she is re-elected include banning the use of private prisons and protecting seniors and immigrant families from fraud. Lacey, who also supports the death penalty, wants to reform the cash bail system and move toward a pretrial release program.

Lacey has been facing criticism from Black Lives Matter L.A. activists, who have been protesting outside of Lacey’ office since October 2017.

In August, the California attorney general’s office charged her husband, David Lacey, who pointed a gun at Black Lives Matter L.A. organizers who were protesting in front of the Laceys’ residence, with three misdemeanors.

Notable supporters of Lacey include Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) and Mayor London Breed, San Francisco’s first Black mayor. She is also backed by the Los Angeles Police Protective League and several police unions.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti originally supported Lacey, but rescinded his endorsement on Sunday for her opponent, Gascón.

Gascón was the former assistant chief for the Los Angeles Police Department and later became the Chief of Police at the Mesa Police Department in Arizona. He has served as San Francisco’s district attorney for eight years.

Gascón, who wants criminal justice reform in L.A. County, is perceived as a more progressive candidate for the position. He has promised to reopen several investigations that Lacey refused to prosecute police for.

Gascón co-wrote Proposition 47, which reduced some felony charges to misdemeanors. Critics of the proposition say this led to an increase in crime.

Issue areas that have driven Gascón’s campaign include advocating for immigrant rights, dismissing certain drug-related charges and working toward environmental justice.

Patrisse Cullors, the co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Gov. Gavin Newsom and Garcetti endorse Gascón. He is also supported by billionaire investor George Soros, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his wife, Patty Quillin.

In a debate hosted by ABC7, both Lacey and Gascón critiqued each other’s track record while sharing their goals if elected.

Gascón acknowledged systemic racism within law enforcement and said as conversations within the police force continue to happen, the community should play a role in police reform.

“It cannot be something that we’re telling the community what we’re going to do. The community has to have a place at the table and law enforcement has to begin thinking about their work in a different way,” Gas?on said in the debate.

Lacey shared the belief that the community should be at the forefront, but said that she ultimately believes law enforcement should be held accountable by government officials.

“There are people that break the law in uniform. And when that happens, there has to be a response from the district attorney, we have to prosecute them,” Lacey said.