District Attorney Chesa Boudin has a new chief of staff: David Campos.  

Campos, currently the Deputy County Executive for the County of Santa Clara, will leave that position and begin as Boudin’s right-hand man Oct. 19.

Before working in Santa Clara County, Campos represented District 9, which includes the Mission District, on the Board of Supervisors, from 2009 to 2017. In an interview Tuesday, Campos characterized his eight-year tenure as “outside-the-box,” as he helped to create free Muni rides for youth and better legal representation for the city’s poorest. 

As the Mission’s supervisor, Campos was at the forefront of many large community battles as an influx of wealth and gentrification took hold of the Mission. He was also the chief sponsor of a law that prohibited youth probation officers from notifying immigration authorities before minors were convicted of crimes, strengthening San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy

“David’s lengthy record of successful advocacy for the most vulnerable, his ability to unite others around common goals, and his extensive legal experience make him perfectly suited for our office and for this important position,” Boudin said in a statement. “I am thrilled he is joining our team and am excited for all that we will accomplish as we push for a more just criminal legal system.”

Campos said that, since Boudin was elected last November, he has been following the District Attorney’s work and the two have kept in touch. “At some point the issue came up, whether I would want to do anything to help him,” Campos said. “He knows that I’ve always been interested in criminal justice reforms.” 

The city’s Mt. Rushmore of progressivism lined up for DA candidate Chesa Boudin. From left, Jane Kim, Sandra Lee Fewer, Hillary Ronen, David Campos, and John Avalos. Photo by Julian Mark.

Campos came to the United States from Guatemala at age 14 and settled in Los Angeles. Despite initially speaking no English as a child, Campos eventually made his way to Stanford University and Harvard Law School and became a lawyer. 

He began his law career in private practice at the firm Howard Rice, now Arnold & Porter, and then moved to the San Francisco City Attorney’s office, where he represented the San Francisco Unified School District and worked on the same floor as his then-colleagues Nathan Ballard, the Democratic strategist, and Kamala Harris, the U.S. Senator and Democratic vice presidential nominee.  

Campos also served on the Police Commission for three years, beginning in 2005. “During that time, he worked to reduce violence in the Mission and to promote community policing approaches,” according to the DA’s office. 

And in addition to bringing his passion for criminal justice reform, Campos said he will work on coalition-building and community engagement for the office. “What [Boudin] is looking for is someone who understands how local government works, not only in San Francisco but in Santa Clara,” Campos said. “To be successful as District Attorney you need to build coalitions and relationships. There has to be a deep understanding of community.” 

Campos will replace Cristine DeBerry, who recently departed the DA’s office to work for the Prosecutor’s Alliance, a lobbying entity formed by four “progressive prosecutors,” including Boudin and George Gascón, to further criminal justice legislation and candidates. DeBerry primarily served as Gascón’s chief of staff. 

“I’m very excited,” Campos said. Boudin is “a visionary leader that’s doing something that’s needed not just for the city but the whole country.”