Editor’s note: This column is one of a weekly series of conversations with District 9 Supervisor David Campos addressing issues and events in the Mission. If you have questions for Campos, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mission Local: The hot topic of the week is the Board of Supervisors’ decision to reinstate suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi. You were one of four supervisors who voted in favor of his reinstatement. Can you elaborate on your vote at Tuesday’s meeting?
David Campos: The entire board was on board with the fact that domestic violence is severe and that Mirkarimi’s actions were poor.
It’s a very difficult decision for us, and me especially. I think that it’s not something that anyone on the Board took lightly … I was very clear, I find what Sheriff Mirkarimi did egregious and deplorable and there’s no justification for it. The question before [the Board] was a question of whether or not the laws [supported the] finding of official misconduct.
I reviewed the record, the evidence and and the law. Ultimately I agreed with the [chair] of the Ethics Commission [Benedict Hur], who said that as egregious as the conduct was, that the definition of official misconduct under the charter, under the law … must be a narrow view, otherwise it opens doors for potential misuse.
As [the chair] of the Ethics Commission explained in his reasoning, under the charter, under the law, official misconduct is defined as acting under the authority of law, acting in the course of exercising your duties and that is the definition that the charter provides.
Based on the definition, the facts did not support a finding of official misconduct, under this.
On that front, one of the things that was alleged by the mayor and city attorney’s office, if it had been proven, would have constituted official misconduct, was the allegation that Mirkarimi used his power to sway and intimidate witnesses. That was a finding that the entire Ethics Commission said was not proven by the evidence presented. If they had found evidence to prove that charge, I would have supported that finding.
ML: Would you support a recall effort to remove Mirkarimi permanently? Supervisor Jane Kim — another of the four supervisors who voted to reinstate Mirkarimi — said she would support a recall vote.
DC: I haven’t talked to the people who may have started that effort or what they have to say. I do have questions about the ability of Sheriff Mirkarimi to effectively do his job. We just have to wait and see what he does, how he performs. I believe in restorative justice, but restorative justice requires that person to take responsibility and act in a way that [demonstrates that] they are changing themselves.
ML: So would you support a recall?
DC: We will wait and see. I haven’t made a decision. It remains to be seen what he does.
ML: Do you agree with District Attorney George Gascon, who yesterday called on Mirkarimi to recuse himself from domestic violence duties?
DC: I haven’t seen the letter of the comments [so] I wouldn’t be able to make a comment.
ML: Did you speak to your constituents before your vote, and after?
DC: We have been getting emails … I have tried to respond to emails that constituents have sent. We posted a message on our Facebook page to hear from people on all sides. We know that this is a difficult issue, and that there are strong feelings. There are some people who are in the middle with their views. I think that every perspective is legitimate.
But there are those who disagree with my decision. I know that many people are upset.
ML: Will the decision — and the case generally — change the dynamics of the board?
DC: Everyone took the issue seriously. I don’t think that this will change dynamics.
Let there be no question that all of the board [agrees that] domestic violence is a serous issue. It cannot be tolerated. People had different opinions about [what constitutes] official misconduct.
[We] engaged in a substantive discussion and I think that on both sides, even if people don’t agree … we respect where the individual is coming from.