Candidates line up to defeat S.F. interim district attorney Brook Jenkins

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — The race for San Francisco district attorney is taking shape the day before a deadline for would-be candidates to file their paperwork.

On Thursday, former San Francisco police commissioner and criminal defense attorney John Hamasaki announced he is in the running. Hamasaki has been a vocal critic of interim DA Brooke Jenkins’ approach to crack down on drug dealers in the city.

Hamasaki has had a contentious relationship with San Francisco police and fashions himself a progressive who is all-in on criminal justice reform. 

Hamasaki did not respond to a KPIX request for comment.

Joe Alioto Veronese is a civil rights attorney, former police and fire commissioner and former police officer who insists he brings the right experience to the table.

“This is actually getting down and doing the work and holding the system accountable on both sides — on the criminal-justice side and the safe-cities side. I’m confident I can do it. I can make people feel safe again in 60 days again in San Francisco and at the same time we can start to do the real work of rehabilitating the criminal justice system,” Alioto Veronese said.

The new candidacies come just a day after Jenkins drew criticism for being paid more than $100,000 for consulting work for a non-profit with ties to a billionaire who bankrolled the effort to recall former DA Chesa Boudin.

Jenkin’s team pointed out she wasn’t paid by the recall campaign directly but her critics — including Hamasaki — say it raises serious ethical questions.

Still, some analysts say the November election will hinge on two central themes — criminal justice and public safety.

“San Franciscans want someone who can figure out how to mitigate some of this petty crime we see every day,” said USF politics professor James Taylor.

Taylor said name identification will also be important and he argued that Jenkins has an advantage as the incumbent.

“I don’t think there’s enough of a groundswell among progressives to support a candidacy like Hamasaki. If it was someone with greater name recognition, someone with less online baggage, I think people would consolidate behind them just because they offer themselves up as an alternative to Jenkins.”

A spokesperson for Jenkins’ campaign declined to comment Thursday night.

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