SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- At Tuesday's San Francisco district attorney candidate forum at the University of San Francisco, crime and public safety were the big topics of the night.
"Being a black and Latina woman, and coming in wanting to make sure that this system was more equitable to people that look like me, but also to fight for justice for victims most of whom look like me," says Brooke Jenkins, the Interim D.A., and considered by many as the frontrunner in the race.
Jenkins was appointed by San Francisco Mayor London Breed after the recall of the former DA Chesa Boudin.
Attorneys Maurice Chenier, Joe Alioto Veronese, and John Hamasaki are the other candidates in the race.
Illegal drugs were another big issue at the forum, and how to deal with the city's current fentanyl crisis.
"You can't fight drugs without partnering with the federal government," says Chenier, who describes himself as the most "pro-police" of the four.
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Some spoke of putting more drug users in jail and getting tough on dealers.
"Making sure that these dealers are admonished that, should they be connected to selling fentanyl to somebody that overdoes, that they could be charged with murder. Because we have to hold these people accountable," said Jenkins to a loud applause.
Along the lines of accountability was a discussion about police surveillance and over-policing, especially in communities of color.
Veronese, a civil rights attorney and former police and fire commissioner, spoke of the need for more effective law enforcement.
"Put the sheriff's department to work. In any other county in this country, the sheriff's department are the chief patrol agents of any county," he said. "We got to get them out of babysitting these buildings. Put them to work."
There was agreement among the candidates to not criminalize the homeless or the mentally ill. And the need to do more to stop hate crimes.
Hamasaki, a progressive endorsed by the San Francisco Democratic Party, partly blames San Francisco's spike in crime on the selective enforcement of laws. He also says poor management of the DA's office has contributed, which must be fixed.
"San Francisco is everybody's favorite place to take a case," says Hamasaki. "Why? Because you can go to trial. Why can they go to trial? Because they don't put together good cases here."
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