Newsletter: A heated S.F. district attorney race, and more in the week ahead

San Francisco City Hall in 2016
Voters cast ballots at City Hall in San Francisco in 2016. San Franciscans will be voting again on Tuesday.
(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, Nov. 4, and here’s a quick look at the week ahead:

On Tuesday, Californians in many parts of the state will be heading to the polls for various local elections. Here’s one race to watch:

San Francisco’s first district attorney race without an incumbent in more than a century has attracted big money and plenty of national media attention. Four accomplished candidates were closing in on the finish line when departing D.A. George Gascón abruptly announced he was resigning. Mayor London Breed then appointed Suzy Loftus — one of the four candidates — to serve as interim district attorney, significantly upping the political drama quotient. Loftus, a former Police Commission president, has the support of the San Francisco political establishment. But the four-way race still “appears to be wide open,” according to the Chronicle.


Loftus’ most high-profile opponent, public defender Chesa Boudin, has garnered endorsements from big names on the left such as Bernie Sanders and is running on a reform-minded platform in line with a wave of progressive prosecutors who’ve scored recent election victories around the country. Boudin is also deeply familiar with the personal costs of incarceration: He spent his childhood visiting his imprisoned 1970s-era radical parents behind bars. The other two contenders are Deputy Atty. Gen. Leif Dautch and Deputy Alameda Dist. Atty. Nancy Tung.

[See also: “Only in San Francisco? Child of Weather Underground parents bids for top prosecutor job” in the Los Angeles Times]

Wednesday marks the first day of the American Film Market, where thousands of buyers and sellers will converge in Santa Monica for what’s billed as the world’s largest motion picture business event.

On Sunday, the People’s Choice Awards will honor accomplishments in TV, film, music and pop culture.


And now, here’s what’s happening across California:


Finally, there was some relief this weekend, as dangerous fire weather conditions stopped in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. There continues to be no rain on the horizon through mid-November, but also, no return of dangerous Santa Ana winds for at least four to five days. At the moment, forecast models suggest some return of Santa Ana winds by Friday or Saturday, but “not nearly as strong as what we saw in the last few days.” Los Angeles Times

President Trump lashed out at California on Twitter (again) and blamed state leaders. He tweeted Sunday that Gov. Gavin Newsom and U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) had failed to properly manage the state’s forests, causing a string of recent blazes. The missives drew a combination of incredulity and anger from many Californians, in part because the vast majority of the acres consumed by fire since early October were grasslands and chaparral, far from the forest. Los Angeles Times


As the massive Kincade fire in Sonoma nears full containment, here are some major takeaways and stories to watch:

  • The Kincade fire was different — no one died. Here’s why, and what lessons were learned from the past. San Francisco Chronicle
  • California’s wine country has become fire country, leaving devastation and fear. Los Angeles Times
  • A Cesar Chavez-inspired public affairs radio station kept farmworkers informed as the Kincade fire raged on last week. Los Angeles Times

Airbnb says it will now ban “party houses” from its platform in response to a deadly shooting at an Orinda Halloween party held at one of its rentals that left five people dead. Los Angeles Times


Inside a wealthy L.A. man’s effort to help pilots fight wildfires from a remote mountain base: A former executive and L.A. County have transformed this picturesque property in the Santa Monica Mountains into a base for helicopters to refill their water tanks. Los Angeles Times

“69 Bravo,” an aerial firefighting base in the Santa Monica Mountains between Topanga and Malibu used by Los Angeles County and other local agencies to fight wildfires in that region.

My colleague Liam Dillon has covered California’s housing crisis for years. But he’d never lived it — until a change in assignment required him to move from Sacramento and embark on an apartment search in Los Angeles. Los Angeles Times

A celebrity sommelier was accused of sexual assault. He had worked at influential Los Angeles restaurants like Bestia, Animal and Eggslut. New York Times

The Donut Man is coming to Grand Central Market. The beloved Glendora store will bring its delectable, fruit-filled doughnuts to downtown Los Angeles. Los Angeles Times

The Donut Man founder Jim Nakano with a tray of his strawberry donuts in 2011. The shop will expand to downtown L.A.'s Grand Central Market next year.
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

L.A. voided millions of old tickets and warrants. Here’s why it won’t actually help homeless people. Los Angeles Times

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A husband-and-wife team in the state Legislature? If Republican Megan Dahle wins a special election Tuesday to represent the sprawling Northern California 1st Assembly District, she’ll join her husband, state Sen. Brian Dahle, at the Capitol. (The seat Megan Dahle is vying for in the conservative district was actually vacated by her husband when he was elected to the state Senate, hence the special election.) Capitol Weekly


California is about to have the most women in its Legislature in state history. That record will be broken regardless of who wins in Tuesday’s North State special election, as Megan Dahle’s opponent to represent the 1st Assembly District is also a woman — Democrat Elizabeth Betancourt. No matter who wins, the election will help the state break its previous record with 38 women seated in the legislature. USA Today

Residents in several San Gabriel Valley cities will also head to the polls Tuesday. Here are some of the local issues on their ballots. Pasadena Star-News

Should Fresno City Council get a say in the next police chief? This proposal would make it so. Fresno Bee



Two murder suspects escaped from the Monterey County Jail in Salinas early Sunday. Salinas Californian


Hail dusted parts of Orange and Los Angeles counties on Saturday. It’s a bit unusual for Southern California to see hail in early November, a forecaster said, unless the right conditions are present. Pasadena Star-News

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake hit Sonoma County north of Healdsburg on Sunday. It was the second quake in that part of Sonoma County over the weekend. No damages have been reported. San Francisco Chronicle



Thousand Oaks Acorn reporter Dawn Megli reflects on how the Borderline massacre and last year’s fires changed Thousand Oaks — and her as a reporter. Los Angeles Times

Here’s the Sacramento site that could house 700 people in tents, cabins and tiny homes. A vacant lot in the Noralto section of north Sacramento has been identified for the campus. Sacramento Bee

Redding’s Christmas tree is finally coming home — and staying downtown. Redding Record-Searchlight


Stars and fans of the late Puerto Rican astrologer and television personality Walter Mercado took to Twitter on Sunday morning to mourn the LGBTQ and Latino icon. Los Angeles Times


Los Angeles: sunny, 79. San Diego: sunny, 73. San Francisco: sunny, 67. San Jose: sunny, 77. Sacramento: sunny, 77. More weather is here.



This week’s birthdays for those who made a mark in California:

Rapper Sean Combs (Nov. 4, 1969), retired basketball player Bill Walton (Nov. 5, 1952), actress Sally Field (Nov. 6, 1946), L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas (Nov. 6, 1954), former California First Lady Maria Shriver (Nov. 6, 1955), Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang (Nov. 6, 1968) and singer Joni Mitchell (Nov. 7, 1943).

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.