Gascon in Crosshairs at DA Debate

by Thomas Buckley at

There were ten candidates on the stage at the Los Angeles Magazine-sponsored Los Angeles County District Attorney’s race debate – eight of them roundly criticized current DA George Gascon – two, including Gascon himself, did not.

In trying to defend his by any standard disastrous term as district attorney, Gascon repeatedly referred to his years in law enforcement – beat cop in LA, police chief in Mesa, Arizona and San Francsico, DA in San Francisco, etc.  What Gascon, like most “resume candidates” for any office, failed to note is that just because you did something doesn’t mean you did it well.

While also pointing to his resume as a federal prosecutor, Jeff Chemerinsky shied away from attacking Gascon too harshly through the evening, though he did say he would be a “better and more effective (criminal justice) reformer than the current DA.”

If there was any debate remaining to be had, Chemerinsky confirmed Thursday his candidacy pitch as being a competent version of Gascon, or a “mini-Gascon,” as candidate Deputy District Attorney Eric Siddall called him.

Gascon wiggled and dodged through the attacks, even trying to deflect blame for his poor public safety performance and his poor history of communicating with his staff of prosecutors on the pandemic – really. And crime is down. And he’s been in law enforcement for a long time.

Gascon even took a very nasty swipe at pretty much everyone else on stage, most of whom who have been prosecutors in the LA DA’s office.  Gascon said “other people on this stage” are the reason for inequality, recidivism and high incarceration rates and that his reform efforts have been undoing their past misdeeds.

Astonishingly, none of the current or former prosecutors noticed, let alone challenged, Gascon on the claim.

When asked to rate the feeling of public safety in the community, Judge Debra Archuleta was very blunt in saying “zero.”  Other candidates for the most part agreed, though Siddall, Chemerinsky, and Deputy District Attorney John McKinney said about five or six.  Gascon did not give a number, saying it was “irrelevant.”