Monday, October 3, 2022

Suddenly, it does not appear that Californians have rejected criminal justice reformers

With only a fraction of the votes counted in California’s low turnout, off-year primary elections, The New York Times last Wednesday confidently explained what it all meant: voters rejected progressives and rejected their vision of criminal justice reform in favor of hard-working candidates.

“Election results in San Francisco and Los Angeles were the latest signs of a restless Democratic voters who remain deeply dissatisfied and concerned about public safety,” the Times’ headline read, citing the revocation of San Francisco’s progressive district attorney Chesa Boudin and the early lead of billionaire Los Angeles mayoral candidate Rick Caruso.

Heir Nellie Bowles, a descendant of a California land baron, took it a step further, claiming that San Francisco is a “failed cityAmong progressive leaders because they have failed to adequately criminalize poverty and drug addiction.

San Francisco District Attorney Recalls, a well-funded campaign that began before Boudin took office in California’s 12th most populous county, was never a good proxy for state-wide sentiment. Although Boudin’s expulsion is a blow to the progressive prosecution movement, it is not necessarily an indication of broad rejection of his policies, which is more popular than he is.

“With more ballot papers being counted, the idea that voters in California have embraced a more caricatured approach to government has begun to fall apart.”

And by the following week, with more incoming ballots counting, the idea that voters in California were actively embracing a more caricatured approach to governance began to fall apart. This was not surprising in a state where every registered voter receives a ballot. People who vote by mail tend to lean progressively and because they have until election day to put their ballot in the mail, many of their votes will only be counted days or even weeks later. Official election officials have until July 8 to report official results to the Secretary of State.

In Los Angeles, the state’s most populous county, Caruso is now in second place, behind the more progressive Karen Bass, despite spending $ 39 million of his own fortune. Caruso, a longtime Republican who recently became a democratcampaign continued the appointment of an additional 1,500 police officers to the country’s most deadly law enforcement agency and remove people by force from homeless camps. Although Bass also called for a much more modest increase in LAPD staff, she promise to fund programs to help people find work, housing, food and transportation, warns: “Los Angeles can not arrest its way out of crime.” Under California’s top two primary system, Caruso and Bass will run in a second election in November.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who oversees a law enforcement agency overrun with deputy gangs, currently has less than 32% of the vote, leaving him vulnerable in the run-up to uniting his challengers behind a single candidate. Villanueva unexpectedly expelled the sitting sheriff in 2018 by portraying himself as a progressive, but when he was first in office worked to cover up misconduct within his agency, pushed for a recall of reformist district attorney George Gascón and spoke out against the “awakened left”. Although several of Villanueva’s eight challengers have positioned themselves as reformist, many activists are remain skeptical and was careful to throw their weight behind anything other than getting rid of Villanueva.

Two Los Angeles City Council candidates who received both endorsement of the local Democratic Socialists of America section are currently leading their races. Abolition organizer Eunisses Hernandez – who worked to close a Los Angeles prison, remove California’s drug sentences and allocate taxpayers’ money to alternatives to imprisonment – is now ahead of incumbent Gil Cedillo with 50.65% of the vote compared to his 49 , 35%. Labor organizer Hugo Soto-Martinez, who called for an end to “traumatic” whipping of homeless camps “wasting millions of dollars by pushing people from block to block” is nearly five percentage points ahead of incumbent Mitch O’Farrell, who last year’s forced removal of unmarried people from Echo Park.

Kenneth Mejia, a 31-year-old CPA and housing justice activist who ran billboards illustrating how little Los Angeles spends combating homelessness compared to policing, is 16 percentage points ahead of veteran politician Paul Koretz in the city governor race. En a leads public defenders and a civil rights lawyer running for judgeships is on course to penetrate to November’s finish.

Outside of Los Angeles, other races complicate the picture of a state desperate for more punitive elected officials. California Attorney General Roy Bonta is on track to easily retain his job, despite a challenge from the tough-on-crime, Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert. Schubert, who participated as an independent, failed to get 10% of the vote.

In Contra Costa County, about 40 miles east of San Francisco, voters re-elected District Attorney Diana Becton, who is part of a progressive prosecutor alliance with Boudin. Becton, the country’s first prosecutor to file charges against a law enforcement officer for a shooting, won her primary straight by receiving more than 50% of the vote, defending a challenge from a colleague backed by law enforcement unions.

In Alameda County, home of Oakland, voters met with Sheriff Gregory Ahern, who oversaw the province’s deadly prison, with ICE on deportations and put the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia, on the platform. Ahern lost to Yesenia Sanchez, a sheriff’s commander who called for alternatives to jail for people with mental illness and reducing the use of solitary confinement.

Ballot papers are still being counted and the results of close races may still change. With nationwide turnout moves around 29%, progressives who did well in the top two primary may still lose in the general election as candidates consolidate and turn out more voters. But with the information currently available, hand-wringing over a crime-terrorized electorate that is desperate for law and order just does not hold up.

Nation World News Desk
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