Harris Brings a Bit of Jamaica to Attorney General’s Race

San Francisco D.A. is first African-American woman to run for statewide office in more than 30 years.

Promotional photo of Kamala Devi Harris as she filed her initial paperwork at city hall for her 2010 run for CA Attorney General.

Promotional photo of Kamala Devi Harris as she filed her initial paperwork at city hall for her 2010 run for CA Attorney General.

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala D. Harris has announced her candidacy for California Attorney General. Born in Oakland, California, to a Jamaican father and an Indian mother, Harris is the first African-American woman to serve as a district attorney in California.

She was elected District Attorney in December 2003 and reelected to a second term in November 2007. A graduate of Howard University and the University of California, Hastings College of Law, Harris began her legal career as a Deputy District Attorney for Alameda County, California, which includes the City of Oakland. There she specialized in prosecuting child sexual assault cases.

In 1998, Harris was named managing attorney of the Career Criminal Unit in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. Two years later she served as head of the San Francisco City Attorney’s Division on Families and Children.

According to her campaign website (www.kamalaharris.org), Harris, who opposes the death penalty, has increased the homicide conviction rate in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. Critics, many of whom come from the San Francisco Police Department, accuse Harris of being slow and overly selective in the prosecution of murder cases.

“Justice does not necessarily occur if you put all the expectations of the community, all the resources that are necessary to putting on a trial, just to ‘go for it,’ knowing that you don’t have the evidence to convict,” Harris said in response to her critics in a 2006 San Francisco Chronicle article. “Because in that process a guilty man is getting away with murder, and the community is certainly not winning.”

Harris is not the first African-American woman to run for California Attorney General. In 1978, US Rep. Yvonne Brathwaite Burke won the Democratic nomination, but lost in the general election to Republican State Senator George Deukmejian, who eventually became Governor of California.

Robert Wheaton is a writer for Carib Press.

Photo from Wikipedia

Leave a Reply