Gascón unseats Lacey in district attorney’s race

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Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — With challenger George Gascón maintaining a steady lead since Election Day, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey conceded defeat Nov. 6.

I congratulate George Gascon and his team on their expected victory,” an emotional Lacey said, fighting back tears at times.

There are still about 791,000 votes to count, but my consultants tell me that while I may close the gap between the two of us I will not be able to make up enough based on the trending of the ballots to win this election.”

According to updated results released Nov. 5, Gascón had 53.7% of the vote to Lacey’s 46.2%. In terms of pure numbers, Gascón had a lead of 229,022 votes, a gain of 6,779 from the final vote count election night.

Lacey — elected in 2012 as the first woman and first Black prosecutor to hold the post since the office was created in 1850 — said, “I am so thankful to God for giving me this incredible opportunity to serve the people of Los Angeles County. Do you know it was exactly eight years today, November 6, 2012, that I was elected? I thank my family for the sacrifices they made in order for me to hold this job.”

She acknowledged that “in fighting to stay in office, we faced a tsunami of money. We were outspent by an unprecedented $5 million. But that is not the full story.”

She said the social-justice movement sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody and other high profile police-involved deaths led to a discussion that’s still in progress about racism, policing and criminal justice reform.

These incidents were painful and exposed an issue that existed in this country for years — racism,” Lacey said. “Our nation is going through a reckoning and what happened in my election may one day be listed as a consequence of that. It may be said that one day the results of this election is a result of our season of discontent and a demand to see a tsunami of change.”

Gascón — a former LAPD assistant chief, chief of police in Mesa, Arizona, and San Francisco D.A. — positioned himself as a reformer in the race against Lacey.

In a media briefing Nov. 6, Gascón thanked Lacey for her service, and the sacrifices she and her family have made. He said that while they may have fundamental disagreements, “there can be no doubt that you’re deeply committed to this community.”

I have been given a tremendous honor by the voters,” Gascón said. “But I recognize, No. 1, that I work for the people. And No. 2, I’m only a temporary [office holder]. This office is more important than me, it’s more important than any of us individually. It’s for our entire community, and I’m very mindful of that.”

Gascón also said he will waste no time implementing the progressive agenda he outlined in his campaign.

We will stop the death penalty immediately,” he said. “We will begin to unwind current cases that are on the death penalty track. We will immediately stop prosecuting children as adults. … I have committed personally to reopening some cases involving law-enforcement uses of force, and I always made it clear that there may be other cases as well, and I am committed to doing so. We’re going to be taking a very different look at the way that we handle people with mental health problems.”

Doubling-down on his commitment to being aggressive in cases involving law enforcement, saying if they commit crimes, “they’ll be held accountable just like anybody else.”

I was not elected to be on the police team or the prosecutors team,” he said. “I was elected to be on the people’s team.”

As incumbent, Lacey was plagued by protests from progressives who felt she was not aggressive enough in prosecuting police and sheriff’s deputies involved in civilian deaths.

Lacey finished first in the three-candidate field in the March 3 primary with 48.7% of the vote to 28.2% for Gascón. A runoff was needed because no candidate received a majority.

The primary came two days after a group of Black Lives Matter protesters showed up at Lacey’s home, and Lacey’s husband, David, responded by pointing a gun at the group and ordering them off of the couple’s property.

Lacey later apologized on behalf of herself and her husband, but stressed that she has been the target of repeated threats while in office, including death threats, and her husband acted out of fear when the commotion began outside their home at 5:30 a.m.

David Lacey was charged Aug. 3 by the California Attorney General’s Office with three misdemeanor counts of assault with a firearm. He pleaded not guilty Oct. 2, with a pretrial hearing set next month.