District Attorney George Gascón will name a politically savvy mayoral aide as his new chief of staff today, his first move in a broad reorganization of the District Attorney’s Office, The San Francisco Examiner has learned.
Cristine DeBerry has served as deputy chief of staff to former Mayor Gavin Newsom and current Mayor Ed Lee before joining the District Attorney’s Office.
Gascón said in a statement that DeBerry “has the perfect blend of skills to help run this office.”
In addition to her work in the Mayor’s Office as a chief adviser on criminal justice issues, DeBerry spent five years as a public defender in Los Angeles, and has worked on state ballot initiatives as well as nonprofit policy issues, according to Gascón. She has a law degree from the UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in political science from UCLA.
Gascón said her experience makes her “an expert at navigating both City Hall and the criminal justice system.”
Her new job, which begins March 7, will entail developing policy and legislation, interacting with other government agencies and community groups, overseeing the communications and media unit, scheduling and special projects.
“I’m very excited,” DeBerry said in an interview Tuesday. “I have a lot of respect for the DA, and I have a great love for this city and its willingness to innovate.”
She praised Gascón as “a leader that’s willing to step out and take a chance, and try new ideas.”
In a musical-chairs shake-up of the top elected offices of San Francisco, Gascón, the former police chief, was named district attorney in January to replace Kamala Harris, in one of Newsom’s final acts in office before becoming lieutenant governor. Harris is now the state attorney general.
Gascón has since declared his intention to run for a four-year term as district attorney in November.
Political observers said hiring DeBerry could be seen as a way of strengthening his political ambitions.
“He has clearly hired someone who is going to be a political resource person for him … to be able to navigate through the election and beyond,” Golden Gate University law professor Peter Keane said.
As police chief, Gascón did not have to worry about re-election. The chief serves at the pleasure of the mayor.
“It’s not surprising that he’s trying to solidify his political front in San Francisco,” Keane said. “He’s a total novice in regard to running for office, and also he’s a relative newcomer and knows virtually nothing about the political landscape of San Francisco.”
Gascón is expected to announce further details of the reorganization later today.