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George Gascon wins San Francisco district attorney’s race

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The former police chief who was appointed district attorney received the confidence of voters Wednesday when preliminary ranked-choice results gave him the win with 63.6 percent of the vote, according to the Elections Department.

Click on the photo at right to see a chart on DA race results.

Despite a highly competitive campaign, George Gascón, 57, handily prevailed over his two closest competitors, UC Berkeley academic David Onek and Alameda County prosecutor Sharmin Bock.

Onek, who finished second, issued a statement earlier Wednesday acknowledging it was “unlikely” he would overtake Gascón. Onek would need to win almost every one of the 32,000 uncounted votes to prevail in the race. Bock issued a similar statement late Wednesday.

As the incumbent, Gascón drew the most fire in the campaign, with some opponents questioning whether someone with no prosecutorial experience was fit for the job. Others said the former police chief had a conflict of interest in investigating officers accused of misconduct.

But Gascón insisted he was the most qualified candidate to lead a large organization, and stressed his experience as a reformer.

The refusal of Gascón’s office to release a memo reportedly critical of the Police Department’s DNA testing lab to defense attorneys in a murder case also became a
campaign issue.

Gascón, a former Republican who became a Democrat after his appointment as district attorney, also was criticized for allegedly shifting his stance on the death penalty. He has said he would consider it in especially heinous cases, but also that he was personally against it and would campaign to abolish it in California.

As prosecutor, he has emphasized the need to develop alternatives to incarceration. He revitalized the office’s neighborhood courts program to shift low-level crimes from the overburdened court system, and, with convicts increasingly being sent to jails instead of state prison, he’s working on a risk-assessment model of offenders to determine prosecution priorities.

aburack@sfexaminer.com