Op-Ed: Ash Kalra Should Be California’s Next AG

As public defenders who represent people and serve families most impacted by our criminal legal system, we call upon Gov. Gavin Newsom to appoint Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) as California’s next Attorney General.

Mr. Kalra is a dedicated public servant and reformer who possesses the diverse experience and unique talent to unify people and lead our state into the next frontier of criminal justice. Appointing him as Attorney General will help ensure healing from decades of systemic racism, public safety for all, the end of mass incarceration, and a re-imagination of policing in our communities.

Mr. Kalra served 11 years as a Santa Clara County deputy public defender representing the indigent. He battled in courtrooms where the death penalty, the prosecution of kids as adults, and life without the possibility of parole sentences were commonplace. He witnessed the inequities of cash bail and misguided Three Strikes and drug laws that fueled our mass incarceration epidemic. He saw firsthand how communities of color are disparately targeted and treated inhumanely by law enforcement.

Most importantly, Mr. Kalra sat in jail interview rooms with the people, most often Black and brown, that he represented. He talked to their families.  He heard their stories of trauma, poverty and police brutality. He learned about their context, not just their criminal conduct. These human contacts cultivated Mr. Kalra’s unique insight into how the criminal legal system harms our communities but also fostered expertise on how to repair our institutions to ensure equity, justice, and safety for all.

Mr. Kalra served eight years on the San Jose City Council, the 10th largest metropolis in the United States and the hub of Silicon Valley. He helped manage a multimillion-dollar budget, worked with a diverse constituency, and invested himself in remedying community struggles like homelessness.

As a city councilperson, Mr. Kalra was a voice for police accountability. He pushed for a body camera policy, for data collection on curb sitting, and for stronger investigatory powers for the Independent Police Auditor.  Throughout his time as a city councilor, Mr. Kalra developed acumen in how systems like education, public welfare, behavioral health, and criminal justice intertwine and impact the safety and well-being of our communities.

Mr. Kalra then took his spirit of service to Sacramento as an Assemblyman in 2016, the first Indian American to ever serve in the California State Legislature.  In just a few years at the Capitol, Mr. Kalra, through his special ability to rally people and cultivate widespread support, has helped enact a wave of groundbreaking reforms to make our system more humane, strip away constructs of mass incarceration, and combat police violence and the manifestations of systemic racism.

Mr. Kalra voted to end the practice of prosecuting 14- and 15-year-old kids as adults. He voted to amend the outdated and over-broad felony murder rule that resulted in people serving unfair sentences. He has pushed legislation to curtail enhancements that perpetuate excessive prison terms and over incarceration. He authored and helped pass necessary legislation to make juries more diverse and reflective of the community. He spearheaded legislation to ban police choke holds.

Most recently, Mr. Kalra authored and led the charge to enact The California Racial Justice Act, cutting-edge legislation that will push our state to overcome insidious racial disparities in the criminal legal system from policing to charging to trials to sentencing.

Mr. Kalra, a son of South Asian immigrants and an immigrant himself who grew up in San Jose, will also value and protect California’s 11 million immigrant people. He will honor the lives of California’s children, half of whom have at least one immigrant parent.

In the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd, Californians took to the streets to interrupt the status quo, demand that Black Lives Matter, stop mass incarceration, and end police brutality. And for these changes to manifest, California needs an Attorney General that can unify, build coalitions, and persuade others not yet in the fold to appreciate the need for reform. The person most uniquely qualified and ready to answer these imminent demands is Ash Kalra.

Signed,

Molly O’Neal, Santa Clara County Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Manohar Raju, San Francisco Public Defender, San Francisco, CA

Oscar Bobrow, Solano County Chief Deputy Public Defender, Vallejo, CA

Tracie Olson, Yolo County Public Defender, Woodside, CA

David Epps, Santa Clara County Alternate Defender, San Jose, CA

Michael Ogul, Past President, California Public Defenders Association, Fair Oaks, CA

Sajid A. Khan, Deputy Alternate Public Defender, San Jose, CA

9 Comments

  1. Gov. Gavin Newsom,
    Please appoint Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) as California’s next Attorney General.

  2. Ash Kalra is one of the most far leftist progressives. As crazy and extreme as Trump but on the extreme left! The maker of Silicon Valley Asian Pacific American Democratic Club, Silicone Valley De Bug, and other far left progressives group where the Chair, CEOs, and founders are all way too far leftists. No way Jose!

  3. Didn’t this privileg-o-crat get a DUI in his 40s?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ash_Kalra

    Isn’t DUI like Schrodinger’s Negligent Homicide, you don’t know if you killed someone until after you get home?

    Didn’t we just put someone’s head on a political spike for this, a woman no less.

    What kind of privileged patriarchy is this, a UC Santa Barbara / Georgetown flavor of it no less?

    Where is Mother Dauber when things really matter?

    Gavin Newsom should demand his resignation immediately if you ask all the mothers of babies killed by DUI in my opinion!

  4. SJ Kulak, people killed mother Dauber making her a witch for attempting to put those that belong in prison there. They are also against Susan Bassi for reporting corruption. Now they are trying to silence Ana Gabriela Hermosillo for exposing corruption of these top far left progressives. They call them feminazis, crazies, and so on. Yes, this is a typical example of patriarchy. If Ash Kalra is elected to any California office, this will be the land of the Iran regime.

  5. This could be refreshing, only relatively, but still refreshing, if the advocates conceive of this lefty Dem turning the A.G. office into a public defender’s office. It continues the sickness, on the other hand, if what’s sought is another “progressive prosecutor” for the A.G. position’s political corruption. (Adults say hell, no to that.)

  6. There are feminazis and the there is Mother Dauber and her Dionysian Sisterhood of the Burning of Men.

    I am very unimpressed with their lack of mobilization against this duplicitous hustler who thinks it’s okay to put kids life at risk so he can pound liquor than drive his BMWer home.

  7. Any objection with the burning🔥 of these types of men? One thing for sure about Ash Kalra, he creates different far left progressives political groups to buffer his supposedly “grandiose” credentials! He is just a typical corrupted politician who ask people to to as he says not as he does! Top credentials and talent, our chulis #KamalaHarris #ForThePeople

  8. Sociopath libertarian property owners and crazed evangelist Kamala Harris sycophants on the same anti-Kalra page? Could there be a better or stronger endorsement of Ash Kalra for Attorney General?

    Let’s turn the page. !Arriba Ash!

  9. Thank you for this well-written article. As one of his many grateful constituents, I can confidently say that Ash Kalra is the best choice for California Attorney General, and I urge Governor Newsom to appoint him as soon as Becerra is confirmed by the Senate.

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