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Political Notebook: Gay former SF supe Campos to lead DA staff

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David Campos will be chief of staff for San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin. Photo: Rick Gerharter
David Campos will be chief of staff for San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin. Photo: Rick Gerharter  

Santa Clara County is losing another high profile LGBTQ official, as gay deputy county executive David Campos has been hired by San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin to be his office's new chief of staff.

Campos, a lawyer and former San Francisco supervisor, will start October 19. He is succeeding Cristine Soto DeBerry, who left the district attorney's office to become the executive director of the Prosecutors' Alliance this month, an advocacy group created by several district attorneys in California to press for criminal justice reforms.

It gives Campos, chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party, another powerful post in the city as talk already swirls that he will seek House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's congressional seat in 2022 should she decide to retire. And it brings Campos, who had served on the city's police commission, back into the public safety field amid the calls for reforms of both the police department and the criminal justice system intensified by the Black Lives Matter protests this summer.

"It is a great honor to welcome David to the district attorney's office, where he will play a pivotal role in implementing our vision of a decarceral, data-driven approach to public safety," stated Boudin in announcing Campos' hiring. "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. 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."

In the statement from Boudin's office Campos said that he has "been impressed by the pace and breadth of the reforms already implemented" by Boudin since he took over the city's district attorney's office in January after being elected last November.

"I am excited to be joining an office that is thinking big and is serving as a model to the rest of the nation," added Campos, who also previously worked as a deputy city attorney for San Francisco and was general counsel for the city's public school district.

In a phone interview with the Bay Area Reporter, Campos said his hiring "is bittersweet" and that he will miss working for Santa Clara County.

"Bitter because I love Santa Clara County and it is sad to leave. We have done a lot," he said. "I am thrilled not only to be back in San Francisco but to be working for Chesa Boudin, who I think is a visionary leader we need right now. I am excited."

A Mission district resident, where he lives with his husband, Campos was hired by Santa Clara County in 2017 after he was termed out of his District 9 supervisor seat in early January of that year. Campos helped establish the South Bay governmental body's Division of Equity and Social Justice.

He also helped plan for and has been working on its census efforts this year, and since the coronavirus outbreak in March, has served as the lead public information officer for the county's Emergency Operations Center that is responsible for addressing the health crisis.

Campos has also been a champion for LGBTQ issues and programs in Santa Clara County, taking on an even more critical role after the departure of gay former Santa Clara County supervisor Ken Yeager, who was termed out of office in 2018. Since then the county board has been without LGBTQ representation and there are no out supervisor candidates running this fall.

"Obviously, it's sad to hear he is leaving and obviously we wish him the best. He has done an incredible job here as an advocate for LGBTQ issues and diversity in general," said Michael Vargas, a gay man and lawyer who co-chairs the Silicon Valley Stonewall Democrats.

Vargas told the B.A.R. he hopes the county not only hires from a diverse applicant pool for Campos' position but uses the opportunity to put into place a plan to ensure there are more than just a handful of LGBTQ people working for the county. In addition to the county's LGBTQ affairs office, Campos told the B.A.R. there are two other out deputy county executives: John Mills, who oversees the county's employee services agency, and Sylvia Gallegos.

"We would love to see more LGBTQ representation but at the same time we also want to make sure there is representation for every community," said Vargas. "This is a great opportunity for the county to think more strategically about LGBTQ hiring and hiring of people of color more generally. When it is we have one or two people working and they leave, then the question becomes is our community properly represented.

"That is not the situation we want to be in," added Vargas. "We want to have representation at the county all down the line and a strategic plan in place to ensure representation in the county, so one person leaving doesn't create this vacuum."

Campos told the B.A.R. that having LGBTQ leadership is important for the county.

"I know that is a big priority and has been a big push. It is one of the things I will be hoping for as we transition," said Campos.

As for speculation regarding his future political ambitions, Campos told the B.A.R. he had "nothing to say" when asked about his running for Congress.

"I wouldn't leave a great job I have and the amazing opportunity I have had in Santa Clara unless it was for something I felt deeply about and really believe in," he said.

Being given an opportunity to reform the criminal justice system wasn't something he could pass on, noted Campos.

"What is going to motivate me is to do everything I can to make sure Chesa and his great team are successful in reforming our criminal justice system," said Campos. "If we can't reform our system in San Francisco, where can you reform it? It has to be done in San Francisco. I am thrilled to be part of that effort and honored by the opportunity he has given me."

Web Extra: For more queer political news, be sure to check http://www.ebar.com Monday mornings for Political Notes, the notebook's online companion. This week's column reported on Alameda Democrats' endorsing a number of LGBTQ candidates on the November ballot.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBT political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/politicalnotes

Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail m.bajko@ebar.com

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