After claiming victory in the nationally watched battle to lead the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, reform challenger George Gascón promised swift changes in criminal justice policies, vowing to stop trying juveniles as adults and prevent prosecutors from seeking the death penalty, reports the Los Angeles Times. Gascón’s ascension in the nation’s largest local prosecutor’s office was a major victory in the movement to elect progressive district attorneys. Incumbent Jackie Lacey, who had been seeking a third term, conceded the race. Gascón, 66, is the former district attorney in San Francisco and has had a long career in law enforcement, serving as police chief in San Francisco and Mesa, Az., and as an assistant chief in the Los Angeles Police Department.
“Just one year ago I entered this race. I moved home to be closer to my family. I entered this race because after decades of working to reform safety institutions in Arizona, in San Francisco, I knew doing it here, in my hometown, was the most important place of all,” Gascón said . A champion of alternative sentencing measures and reducing mass incarceration, Gascón was met with fierce opposition from law enforcement unions, which cited his lack of trial experience and surging property crime in San Francisco under his tenure. With the support of L.A.’s activist community and a massive fundraising advantage including hefty donations from progressive mega-donors, Gascón had captured 236,000 more votes than Lacey by week’s end. His win marks the biggest victory yet for a nationwide movement that has seen similar candidates become prosecutors in St. Louis, Chicago and Philadelphia. “We cannot continue to do business as we have for the past 30 years and somehow expect a different result,” he said. “It’s important to recognize that community safety does not travel alone on a singular track.”