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Bar Association of San Francisco Member Benefits: Publications

BASF to Hold Plebiscite for San Francisco District Attorney Election

By Ann Murphy, Director of Communications and Public Relations


So what exactly is a plebiscite, and why is The Bar Association of San Francisco holding one this fall?
The definition of a plebiscite according to Merriam-Webster is “a vote by which the people of an entire country or district express an opinion for or against a proposal especially on a choice of government or ruler.”

BASF’s bylaws call for a vote, or plebiscite, of all dues-paying attorney members whenever there is a
contested election for San Francisco district attorney, city attorney, or public defender.

For the first time since 2003, when Bill Fazio, Terence Hallinan and Kamala Harris ran for district attorney, there will be a contested race in one of these offices. Candidates have until August 8 to file for the position and on November 8, San Francisco voters will be asked to vote for district attorney.

So, what role does BASF’s plebiscite play? BASF members could endorse a candidate in the November election. According to the association bylaws, “The candidate shall be considered ‘endorsed’ by the Association if ballots of at least one-third (1/3) of those eligible to vote are returned; and How will the plebiscite work? BASF President Priya Sanger has appointed a six-person committee headed by David Tsai of Perkins Coie. Other members include Barry Abbott, Howard Rice Nemerowski Canady Falk & Rabkin; Miriam Montesinos, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton; Carla Oakley, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; Ann Nguyen, Phan, Nguyen & Associates; and Jaron Shipp, Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office.

This diverse group of attorneys, representing solo/small firm practitioners; midsize firms; large, national firms, and government law offices, will oversee the entire process, ensure voting confidentiality, administering the vote tabulation, and declaring the results.

The committee will provide written statements from each candidate and will also host a public debate
during August.

Electronic balloting will be available during a two-week period: August 29–September 15. For those attorney members wishing to vote using a paper ballot, that option will be available
as well.

Look for more news and a voting schedule in future issues of the BASF Bulletin and please be sure that your current email address is on file. You can make changes to your contact information at

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