San Francisco Green Party District Attorney Candidate Questionnaire 2019

Due Date: Thurs, Sep 12

Candidate Name: Leif Dautch for District Attorney
Phone Number: 415-735-1942
Web site:
Name of Campaign Manager: Daniel Anderson
Signed voluntary spending limit: No
Major Endorsements:

San Francisco Fire Fighters Local 798
San Francisco Latino Democratic Club (#2)
San Francisco League of Conservation Voters (#2)
California State Treasurer Fiona Ma
Progressive Democrats of America (#2)
San Francisco Board of Education Commissioner Mark Sanchez
San Francisco Board of Education Commissioner Gabriela López
California Assembly Speaker Emeritus John Perez
San Francisco Fire Commissioner Ken Cleaveland
San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs' Association
Sex-Positive Democratic Club President Mark Press
Brownie Mary Democratic Club of San Francisco
Former San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Brown
California State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones (fmr.)
Assemblymember Monique Limon
Willie B. Kennedy Democratic Club President Toye Moses
San Francisco Jewish Bar Association President Ben Feuer
Democratic County Central Committee member Keith Baraka (#3)
Run for Something
Resurgent Left
100 more community leaders:

Who did you endorse for Mayor in 2018 (all 3 choices, if applicable): Mark Leno
Who did you endorse for Mayor in 2015 (all 3 choices, if applicable): Ed Lee
Who did you endorse for Sheriff in 2015: Vicki Hennessy

1) Would you have charged the police officers who shot:

Without seeing the case files, I cannot commit to a specific charging decision in any particular case. However, when I launched my campaign for District Attorney, I spoke with members of the Justice for Mario Woods Coalition. One recurring theme in their comments was the belief that the current DA was applying a different standard to the investigation and charging of police officers than he would apply to anyone else accused of a crime. Investigations dragged on for years, with an elaborate presentation to justify not charging an officer. In fact, not a single charge has been filed against a single officer for any of the fatal shootings that occurred during the incumbent's tenure.

I will bring three things to the DA role that will be measurable improvements on the status quo. First, I will not have the inherent conflict of interest of making charging decisions involving police officers that I used to supervise as Police Chief. Second, rather than taking years to investigate these cases, I vow to complete my investigation of any officer-involved shooting within 6 months and hold a town hall explaining my decision to charge, or not charge, the officer. Third, I will follow the lead of some jurisdictions around the country by exploring whether charges other than homicide may be brought that would circumvent limitations in current law that prevent victims of crime from getting the justice they deserve.

a) Alex Nieto
b) Alice Brown
c) Amilcar Perez-Lopez
d) Giovany Contreras Sandoval
e) Herbert Benitez
f) Javier Lopez Garcia
g) Jessica Williams
h) Luis Góngora Pat
i) Mario Woods
j) Matthew Hoffman
k) Nicholas McWherter
l) O’Shaine Evans

2) Who else have you endorsed in other contests (this year or next)?

I'm focused on my own race and have not endorsed any candidates in 2019 or 2020 races.

3) What do you think of the Death Penalty?

I oppose the death penalty and cannot envision any circumstances in which I would seek it.

4) What do you think of SF closing our Juvenile Hall?

I have supported the closure of Juvenile Hall since the start and have proposed converting the nearly-empty facility into a Mental Health Justice Center for youth and adults battling mental illness. Such a center would offer a range of treatment options, from crisis services and short-term transitional care to inpatient treatment. Critically, the Department of Public Health should be the lead agency, rather than the Sheriff's Department or Juvenile Probation Department, with treatment, not incarceration, the primary objective. A “just transition” retraining and hiring preference program should be established for current juvenile hall counselors to minimize the disruption and labor effects on those employees.

5) What do you think of current police staffing levels?

I support recent efforts to increase the number of foot patrol officers as a way of preventing crimes from occurring in the first place.

6) What do you think of closing 850 Bryant?

I'm hopeful that we can get to a place where we do not need to build replacement facilities for the seismically-unsound jails at 850 Bryant Street. In particular, I believe bail reform will significantly reduce the pretrial population serving time in the county jail system. However, my decision about closing jails will always be driven by public safety and crime rates, as with my desire to support shutting down Juvenile Hall.

7) What do you think of the concept of restorative justice? What specific plans do you have to implement your ideas?

We need to move away from a system focused on punishment and toward a rehabilitative and restorative justice model. The juvenile justice system provides a path. The sole purpose of our juvenile system is to rehabilitate young people. Every sentence, every probation condition, every placement is targeted at the underlying cause of a young person's problem, whether it be mental health or substance abuse, a lack of economic opportunity, or gang influence. Working to address root causes has allowed San Francisco to significantly reduce the number of kids entering our justice system without a corresponding uptick in juvenile crime rates. In fact, our Juvenile Hall is so empty, there are calls to shut it down (I would like to turn it into a Mental Health Justice Center for those battling mental illness inside and outside our criminal justice system).

But there is no reason a 19-year-old should be denied this rehabilitative focus while a 17-year-old benefits from it. We should incrementally expand these rehabilitative programs to the adult population, beginning with 18- to 24-year-olds. Once we show that such a focus can reduce incarceration and crime rates for “transitional age youth,” we can expand it to the rest of the adult population for qualifying offenses.

Let's rethink the prosecutor's role, starting with the measures of their effectiveness. Rather than a single-minded focus on conviction rates, we should judge district attorneys on the recidivism rates of those they prosecute. By doing so, we would shift their incentives from simply obtaining a guilty verdict to addressing the actual needs of the defendant. Prosecutors are well positioned to help in that assessment. In fact, the San Diego district attorney's office has had early success with a project in which prosecutors work with the defense team, probation department and court to develop a plan for defendants so they can seek out the programs and skills while incarcerated that they will need to successfully re-enter society. Prosecutors can also highlight the staggering costs to the taxpayer of the prison industrial complex, costs that should be a factor in deciding whether (and how much) prison time is appropriate for a given crime.

Finally, we need to reduce barriers for formerly incarcerated people re-entering society. For decades, we have erected barriers to housing, jobs, voting and government services for people with criminal records, barriers that have appropriately been described as “The New Jim Crow.” Not only is there no evidence these restrictions deter criminal conduct, there is mounting evidence that they increase the chances someone will re-offend. We need to eliminate these barriers and, for example, allow the inmates who fought the devastating Tubbs, Thomas and Camp fires the opportunity to become firefighters when released. We should allow people on parole to vote, just as those on probation can. We cannot expect returning individuals to buy into a society that denies them a voice.

Such a fundamental shift in how we approach criminal justice will not occur overnight. But there are no term limits on District Attorney, I plan to spend the next decade or two steering this ocean liner in a new direction. If we want a legal system that is fair, just, and race-blind, we need to start now.

8) What standards do you support for police use of force? Are there any "less-lethal" weapons that you support arming the police with?

I supported Assembly Bill 392, which moved from a "reasonable" use of force standard to a "necessary" use of force standard. And while I am not philosophically opposed to "less-lethal" options, in light of three recent Taser-related deaths in San Mateo County, I believe we need to understand why people are dying before we give SFPD officers those weapons.

9) DA Gascon had a policy of only charging cases that he thought he'd easily win. What standard will you apply?

The ethical and legal standard for charging cases is those that you believe you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. That is the standard I will ensure my attorneys follow.

Your positions (at the time) on selected current and past Propositions
(skip any for which you didn't live or vote in SF, or didn't take
a position at the time)

I did not take public positions on most of these measures.

+ - : [ ] [ x ] [ ] Nov 2019 Prop C (Vaping regulations)
[ x ] [ ] [ ] Nov 2019 Prop D (Uber/Lyft tax)

[ x ] [ ] [ ] June 2018 Prop F (Eviction Defense)
[ ] [ x ] [ ] June 2018 Prop H (Tasers for SFPD)

[ ] [ ] [ ] Nov 2016 Prop D (Vacancy appointments)
[ ] [ ] [ ] Nov 2016 Prop F (16-17 y.o. voting, local elections)
[ ] [ ] [ ] Nov 2016 Prop N (Non-citizen voting, school board)
[ ] [ ] [ ] Nov 2016 Prop Q (Prohibiting tents on public sidewalks)
[ ] [ ] [ ] Nov 2016 Prop R (Neighborhood crime units)
[ ] [ ] [ ] Nov 2016 Prop 62 (Ending Death Penalty)

[ ] [ ] [ ] June 2016 Prop B (Rec and Park legislation)

[ ] [ ] [ ] 2015 Prop F (Short Term Rental Regulation)
[ ] [ ] [ ] 2015 Prop I (Mission Luxury Housing Moratorium)

[ ] [ ] [ ] Nov 2014 Prop H (Natural Grass in Parks)
[ ] [ ] [ ] June 2014 Prop B (Waterfront Height Limits)

[ ] [ ] [ ] 2011 Prop C (Mayor's Pension measure)
[ ] [ ] [ ] 2011 Prop D (Adachi's Pension measure)

[ ] [ ] [ ] 2010 Prop L (Ban on Sitting on Sidewalks)
[ ] [ ] [ ] 2010 Prop M (Foot Patrols)

Due Date: Thurs, Sep 12, 11:59 pm.

Please submit by email to For more information, call
Erika McDonald at 415-337-1499. Please return your answers in plain
text (not HTML, PDF, or Word format), so that we can post all
candidates' answers in the same format.

The SF Green Party will invite all candidates who return completed
questionnaires on time to speak and answer questions at our candidate
forum and endorsement meeting (scheduled for Wed, Sep 18 from 7-9 pm).
If you need to schedule a particular time slot, or if you are unable
to make the meeting, please be in touch with us at
Otherwise, we'll interview candidates as you arrive. Our forum and
endorsement meeting will take place at the Redstone Building (room
TBA). The Redstone is located at 2940 16th Street (between Mission
and South Van Ness, 1 block from 16th St BART).

Completed questionnaires will be posted on our website,