National | News

Public defender and Jewish son of jailed radicals elected San Francisco district attorney

AN FRANCISCO (J. The Jewish News of Northern California via JTA) — Voters here have elected progressive public defender Chesa Boudin, the Jewish son of 1970s anti-war radicals, as their new district attorney.

Boudin, 39, won a close-fought battle with Suzy Loftus, who was appointed to the position on an interim basis by Mayor London Breed last month.

He was a baby when his parents, Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert, were arrested and sentenced to lengthy prison terms for their involvement in a 1981 robbery attempt in Rockland County, New York, that left three dead. Boudin and Gilbert were members of Weather Underground, a radical left military group that was classified as a terrorist organization by the FBI.

Adopted and raised in Chicago by Weather Underground leaders Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, Boudin would go on to earn a Rhodes Scholarship and a law degree from Yale in 2011. In 2015 he became a full-time public defender in San Francisco.

During the campaign, Boudin outlined an ambitious agenda of progressive priorities including eliminating cash bail; ending racial disparities in the city’s criminal justice system; forming an “immigration unit” to protect immigrants against ICE policies; and expanding mental-health treatment in a city beset by highly visible mental illness and drug addiction challenges.

“We’re safer when we stop using jails and prisons as an answer to all social problems,” he said Monday in a radio interview.