The June primary will host the first competitive race for Santa Clara County District Attorney in 12 years, with incumbent Jeff Rosen facing the challenge after running unopposed in his last two re-election bids.
As Rosen, career public defender Sajid Khan and Daniel Chung, a prosecutor who most recently worked under Rosen, move closer to election day, they have held three separate positions for the top law-enforcement position in the South Bay. perspectives are presented.
How he defines himself: Rosen was first elected in 2010 and is establishing herself as the only candidate with an established ability to head the state’s second-largest district attorney office. He introduces himself as the only candidate who has worked with law enforcement in the investigation, unlike his opponents, whom Rosen explains do not have meaningful experience trying cases.
“The choice comes down to proven leadership of complex and important issues, and whether people want a balanced approach,” Rosen said in an interview. “Since my office prioritizes security and improvement, we get both of those things. I feel like the people running against me are stressing one or the other, and when you do that, you get nothing.” .
How opponents have tried to define him: Rosen’s opponents claim he has not met growing demands for criminal justice reforms in the wake of massive police protests following the killing of George Floyd in 2020. Khan has repeatedly mentioned that Rosen has not prosecuted any officers involved in more than 20 fatal shootings. Which has happened in the district in the last five years. And both he and Chung say the DA’s process for prosecuting cases relies heavily on incarceration and perpetuates systemic inequalities.
In response, Rosen stated that he is the only candidate with any real experience in reviewing police shootings and misdemeanor cases. He also said that at least 58 police officers have been prosecuted during his tenure, including three prison deputies who were convicted of the 2015 lynching of Michael Tyree in prison. He also pointed to his office’s investigation into corruption at the county sheriff’s department, which led to allegations of pay-to-play broking of concealed-carry weapons permits against the county undersheriff and sheriff’s captain.
Rosen also argues that the county jail and juvenile hall populations have dwindled, and the lengthy prison sentences followed by his office also declined sharply during his term. And in a major charging reform, his office stopped prosecuting minor drug possession cases unless the person involved had a serial run-in with the police.
“By doing this we have disproportionately benefited black and brown communities, who have been disproportionately prosecuted,” he said.
Other critics have argued that Rosen’s support for criminal-justice reforms has been inconsistent. In a sample of posts on statewide reforms, he supported Proposition 47, which effectively made most possession drug offenses non-criminal, but opposed and unsuccessfully challenged the constitutionality of SB 1391, which decriminalized minors. narrowed the pool, who can be charged as adults.
“I’m interested in improvements that work,” Rosen said. “Not everything that one calls an improvement is something that works.”
Who supports him: Rosen has strong support in the county’s established political leadership, including longtime San Jose-based Representative Joe Lofgren, San Jose Mayor Sam Licardo and county supervisors; As well as the support of the president of the local chapter of the NAACP, several retired South Bay police chiefs and Hilary Blaut, a former prosecutor who runs the sentencing reform organization For the People.
How he defines himself: Mines is looking to follow in the footsteps of Reformation-based District Attorney Chesa Boudin in San Francisco and George Gascon in Los Angeles and Diana Becton in Contra Costa County, in seeking a transformative change of office.
“The current DA is not in alignment with the progressive values of Santa Clara County,” Khan said, adding that county voters have supported statewide criminal-justice reform measures. “We will prosecute the crime to address the core issues, while assuring to help survivors of harm, so that their loss is not repeated.”
Khan, who has served as a deputy public defender for 13 years, says he wants to shift focus rapidlyf DA’s Office Demanding non-prison and non-prison solutions and addressing long-standing inequalities in the criminal-justice system. lostA note that the emergency measures adopted during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which reduced the prison census By a third, there is evidence that the criminal-justice system has the potential to lean less on incarceration. He also wants the DA’s office to investigate the deadly police shootings further, arguing that there has been a lack of accountability for officers using deadly force.
“Our path to public safety is not a prison,” Khan said. “We have the potential to dramatically reduce our dependence on prisons and prisons.”
How opponents have tried to define him: Many critics of Khan – led by large police unions – argue that he has no solid way to credibly steer a vast team of prosecutors. Working on a template forged by opponents for the administration of Boudin and Gascon – which has faced internal challenges and recalled campaigns – critics also say he will struggle to build working relationships with law enforcement, which they need to work.
Khan says he can overcome those obstacles if elected. “Talking with law enforcement, I hope we can communicate in a way that we all want: shared respect and justice for the people of Santa Clara County,” he said in an interview. “I believe we will get there.”
Critics of Khan have also cited his previous op-ed pieces and blog posts to characterize him as insensitive to crime victims. Some, such as Stanford law professor Michelle Dauber and prosecutor Allaleh Kienersi, have particularly captured their support for the brief sentence handed down to Brock Turner, the former Stanford swimmer who was arrested after a college party in 2016. He was convicted of sexually assaulting the woman, a case that attracted international attention. Heeded and recalled a sitting judge.
Khan told this news organization that he now recognizes his ideological arguments against reactive and harsh punishment do not adequately account for the feelings of the survivors. As he has sought to rebuild his image during the campaign, he publicly revealed his own experience as a survivor of a childhood sexual assault for the first time.
“It’s not something I wanted to reveal, because it was too personal and private to me. But because of the criticism that I was not conscious of the needs and realities of sexual violence, it was more important for me to share my experience.” became relevant,” he said. “Even though I stuck to my principles, I spoke in a way that was not holistic, narrow, and did not pay attention to how my words would be received. I listened to those who were upset.”
Who supports him: Khan is supported by a range of civil rights, justice reform and labor groups in the South Bay, including SEIU United Health Care Workers, Smart Justice California, Silicon Valley D-Bug co-founder Raj Jayadev, as well as public defenders unions. and elected officials including Assembly Member Ash Kalra, retired Representative Mike Honda and Mountain View Mayor Lucas Ramirez.
How he defines himself: Until last year, Chung was a line-level prosecutor in Rosen’s office who earned an internal award for his work at the agency, which he joined in 2018. But Chung wrote an op-ed claiming that criminal-justice reform was publicly falling short. Security In the county, tensions grew between him and Rosen’s administration, eventually leading to his termination and his lawsuit accusing the office of retaliation and discriminating against him.
Chang now presents himself as a choice between Rosen’s status quo of power and the sudden change proposed by Khan.
“I’m going to be at the center,” Chung said. “I will bring about fundamental change without breaking the office.”
How opponents have tried to define him: Chung faces questions about his motives for running, given that he is challenging the district attorney he was working for as recently as a year ago. But Chung says that even while working under Rosen, he tried to explain what he saw as over-charging practices by the office and unequal treatment within.
“This campaign is much more than ‘He’s a disgruntled employee,'” Chung said. “I’m the only prosecutor saying I want us to be tough on crime, tough while pushing balanced reforms.”
“The people of Santa Clara County deserve a choice,” he said.
Who supports him: Chung’s supporters include the Los Gatos Monte Sereno Police Officers Association and two Gilroy council members.