Dispatch from California: Crime and a Recall Election

At San Francisco City Hall, many voters took selfies as they placed ballots into the drop box in front of the stately, domed building. In this California primary election, a local recall is garnering plenty of attention. District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who took office in January 2020, has become the target of ire as some residents say they feel less safe in a crime-ridden city. They blame Boudin and his efforts at criminal justice reform.

While polling numbers have looked unfavorable for him, some voters are willing to give him a chance. Alexxi Adams, a 34-year-old dog sitter who has lived in San Francisco for 10 years, isn’t convinced that crime has worsened while Boudin has been in office. She voted not to recall him. “I don’t think crime has gotten worse,” she said. “I think during the pandemic, people are stuck inside so they’re just watching it all.”

David Wrubel, 57, has lived in San Francisco for 35 years and performs as a drag queen named Emma Peel. “The city’s problems are many, and I don’t think one person can really take care of it themselves.” He, too, voted not to recall Boudin because he believes the city has greater priorities.

Ernestine Jensen was having none of it. The 75-year-old clerical worker, who has lived in San Francisco since 2009, was emphatic that Boudin had to go. She voted yes on the recall. She said that she was tired of walking her dog down the street and having to dodge needles and human feces.

“We want some law and order,” she said.

Published in The Washington Post, 2022
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All Content Copyright Katherine Kam, 2024