In L.A. County DA’s race, incumbent Jackie Lacey faces challenge from the left in George Gascón

Election guide

District Attorney: Jackie Lacey (incumbent) vs. George Gascón

The district attorney serves all of Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the country with more than 10 million residents. The DA oversees more than 1,000 attorneys.

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey and former San Francisco Dist. Atty. George Gascón are shown in undated file photos. (Allen J. Schaben and Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)
L.A. County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey and former San Francisco Dist. Atty. George Gascón are seen in undated photos. (Allen J. Schaben and Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)

About Jackie Lacey:

Jackie Lacey grew up in L.A.’s Crenshaw neighborhood, going on to graduate from UC Irvine and USC law school. She soon became a prosecutor in L.A. County and has spent most of her professional life in the DA’s office.

She was elected as the county’s first woman and first African American DA in 2012, and won re-election without opposition in 2016. Now 63, Lacey is asking voters for a third term. She says her top priority is keeping the streets of L.A. County safe from violent and dangerous criminals. She is committed to safeguarding children from human sex traffickers, seniors from financial elder abuse and communities from environmental crimes, according to her website.

Here is where Lacey says she stands on the issues, and here is a list of her endorsements.

About George Gascón:

George Gascón immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba as a teen. His family settled in Cudahy, and Gascón went on to join the U.S. Army. After graduating from Cal State Long Beach, he became an LAPD officer, working his way up to the rank of assistant chief under Bill Bratton. He left become chief of the Police Department in Mesa, Arizona, then was chosen to head San Francisco’s department by then-Mayor Gavin Newsom. He was appointed San Francisco’s DA — the county’s first Latino to hold the job — when Kamala Harris became attorney general in 2011. He left the San Francisco job in 2019 to return to L.A. County to challenge Lacey from the left.

Now 66, Gascón says he is running as a progressive to modernize L.A.’s criminal justice system. He has been endorsed by the Los Angeles Democratic Party, as well as Sens. Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren. 

Here is where Gascón says he stands on the issues, and here is a list of his endorsements.

About the race:

In the March primary, Lacey at first looked like she’d squeak to victory, but she ended up with 48.65% of the vote, while Gascón bested Rachel Rossi to force a runoff in November.

Then, in late May, protests swept the nation, calling for criminal justice reform following the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Long a target of Black Lives Matter activists, Lacey’s name was soon often heard at massive L.A.-area protests. She had already spent much of her second term under scrutiny for declining to prosecute officers in a number of controversial shootings of unarmed men, the Los Angeles Times reported. Some of her supporters began to pull their endorsements. A month before the election, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti switched his endorsement to support Gascón. 

Gascón, who served in the L.A. Police Department for decades, did not prosecute any officers in various high-profile shootings in the Bay Area either, the Times reported. But progressives like his emphasis on restorative justice programs rather than jail for nonviolent offenders.

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