California’s new top cop, San Francisco’s progressive District Attorney Kamala Harris, vowed to insure “the law of this state is on the side of the people.”
In a victory press conference Nov. 30, the state attorney general-elect pledged to crack down on fraudulent mortgage lenders, cut down on the state’s high prison recidivism rate, and aggressively enforce environmental and civil rights laws.
After a nail-biter race that saw the post-election count flip-flop between Democrat Harris and Republican Steve Cooley, Harris pulled ahead decisively a week to ago to become the first woman and person of color State Attorney General. Harris’ parents are of Jamaican and Indian decent.
With Harris’ victory, Democrats made a clean sweep of all California statewide offices, in which the voters gave the boot to Republican incumbents for governor and state insurance commissioner as well.
Harris pledged to help local law enforcement take on predatory mortgage lenders and to reform California’s “revolving-door,” overcrowded prison system.
An advocate of offender rehabilitation programs in San Francisco, Harris has promoted rehab and support services for nonviolent criminal offenders. She has only sought the three-strike sentence of 25-years-to-life in those cases of a violent or serious crime.
Harris vowed to prioritize environmental protection in the state, which has among the most advanced climate protection laws and programs in the nation.
In San Francisco, Harris created the first environmental unit in the DA’s office. In the November elections she opposed failed Proposition 23, which would have suspended California’s greenhouse gas emissions laws until unemployment dropped to 5.5 percent or below for a year.
Harris personally opposes the death penalty but she is committed to enforce state law, which requires the state attorney general to prosecute death-penalty appeals.
California’s main law enforcement groups opposed Harris’ candidacy because, as San Francisco’s district attorney, she refused to seek the death sentence in the case of a San Francisco police officer killer in 2004.
However, supporters of Harris campaign, eager for a pro-people attorney general, included the California Labor Federation, the Services Employees International Union, civil liberties and rights groups and independently financed campaigns backed by the labor movement and Powerpac.org, a progressive social justice organization.
At the Nov. 30 press conference, Harris said, “one does not have to run from their convictions when they choose to run for office.”
Photo: California Attorney General Kamala Harris at a Los Angeles campaign rally, Nov. 10. Chris Carlson/AP