The Interview: San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon

Gascon opens up about his transformation from dropout to district attorney

He's a high school dropout who's been elected to one of the most high profile and powerful positions in the state.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon is one of the most interesting Bay Area public figures, and he doesn't hold back speaking out about his convictions and defending his stance on controversial issues.

Gascon says it comes from his background, as a Cuban immigrant who didn't speak any English when fled from his homeland in 1967, and moved to Southern California.

He dropped out of high school and was on a very different path until he enlisted in the military.

"I went on to get a GED and got into the military and it was in the military that I got my high school diploma and started going to college," Gascon said. "My mentors were superior officers that saw in me probably something I wasn't seeing anymore."

Gascon also is the very first police chief in the country to become an elected district attorney and while some people may see that as a conflict of interest, Gascon sees it as a benefit.

"I was probably one of the harshest critics of bad police practices even when I was inside policing. For those who knew me well, they saw it as a really good thing," Gascon said.

Other detractors criticize him for never trying a case. "My answer to that is there are airlines that are run by people who have never flown a commercial jet, but they're good business people that know how to run large organizations. There is a distinction between being able to do some work at the ground level and being able to run a large organization."

Like any good politician, Gascon can be self deprecating, even about one of his most talked about features, his hair. "My mother would try to control my hair, Vaseline and hair spray and all that stuff," Gascon said. "I'm not going to say that I'm not using any products, then I'd be lying to you. My hair is just very unruly by nature."

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