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05/21/11

Iranian-American Woman Runs for San Francisco District Attorney

By Grace Nasri, Iran Times

Sharmin Bock An Iranian-born prosecutor based in San Francisco is running to be the first Iranian-American ever to serve as a US District Attorney.

Sharmin Bock, 48, has worked in the law enforcement community for 22 years. The Tehran-born attorney is a nationally recognized legal leader who has worked on cutting edge criminal prosecution cases including DNA cold cases, human exploitation and trafficking.

Bock is endorsed by Congresswoman Jackie Speier, the National Women’s Political Caucus, and an extensive coalition of community leaders. If her campaign proves successful, Bock will become the first American of Iranian descent to serve as a District Attorney in the United States.

In an interview with Iran Times International, Bock said: “As a District Attorney, my number one goal would be to make sure that the most violent criminals don’t roam the streets amongst us, but instead are held accountable for their crimes. Charging, prosecuting and convicting dangerous felons must be the primary responsibility of the DA.”

Bock immigrated to the United States at a young age; she received her bachelor’s degree from Occidental College and graduated from Georgetown University Law Center, Cum Laude, in 1988.

After graduating from law school, Bock made her way back to San Francisco, where she served as a Law Clerk for the Honorable D. Lowell Jensen, United States District Court, Northern District of California. In 1989, she joined the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, an office widely recognized as one of the best prosecutor’s offices nationwide. Throughout her more than 2-decades of work, Bock has appeared in court in more than one thousand cases with a 96 percent conviction rate in cases brought to trial.

The Iranian-American prosecutor currently leads the specialized trial and support units for the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. As Assistant District Attorney in Charge of Special Operations and Policy, she leads many experienced and senior trial lawyers as well as their supervisors.

Bock, who is active in public and community service, was recognized in 2009 by the California Women Lawyers with the Fay Stender Award for promoting the advancement of women in the legal profession and demonstrated ability to affect change and serve others. In March 2010, under the nomination of Assemblymember Sandre Swanson, the California State Legislature honored Bock as Woman of the Year.

“Public service is a family tradition,” Bock said. “I grew up with the notion of fair play and giving back to society. I would like to continue in this tradition by serving my community as the next District Attorney of San Francisco.”

Raised by Iranian parents, Bock explained to the Iran Times how her Iranian culture has shaped the person she is today. “I’ve been raised to always work hard and give back and have been supported to do so by a culture that is very embracing, nurturing and warm not just to fellow Iranians, but to everybody. As a result of my Persian culture, my concern for others-whether they are fellow Iranians or not-is very expansive and far reaching.... My commitment to public service is colored by a culture that supports, embraces and empowers everybody-whether they are Iranian or not.”

Despite her experience and support, however, the campaign will not be an easy one for Bock. She faces former Police Chief and current District Attorney George Gascon as well as David Onek, Senior Fellow at UC Berkeley Center for criminal Justice, in the November election.

Bock, however, remains confident in her campaign. “As the only candidate for District Attorney with court room experience, I am confident that I can win this race. The challenge that I face is raising the funds that I need to get my message out in a city-wide campaign,” she said.

The DA hopeful called on Iranians and other supporters to help her in her campaign.

“If I am elected to the office of the DA-one of the most powerful and important law enforcement positions-it will help dissipate the taint of 9/11 on Middle Easterners, and will help restore to Middle Easterners the honor and dignity they have unfairly lost. In my 22 years of work as a prosecutor, I’ve learned that the sins of one should not be attributed to the many; we are only responsible for our own actions,” Bock told the Iran Times.

“This race is not just about me,” Bock added. “It’s about the advancement of the Iranian community. And if everyone donated according to their ability, it would help me win public office. I am a vehicle in which Americans across the country can and will view Iranians; the supporters of the Iranian community will send the message that we are an important political force and agent of positive change... If the Iranian community stood up in support and donated to my campaign, it would show that the Iranian community-much like other vocal ethnic minorities in the US-are a force to be reckoned with.”

The filing deadline is June 30; before then, Bock told the Iran Times she must raise several hundreds of thousands of dollars to remain in a viable candidate for the office of the DA. She reminded, “However big or small a donation, every little bit makes a difference.”

Bock also encouraged her supporters to help by volunteering. “Everyone in the Bay Area is encouraged to volunteer. We need volunteers to host house parties, post signs, and to encourage friends and family members to support me. And if you host fundraiser events in your community, I am more than willing to attend.”

Bock currently lives in the Richmond District of San Francisco with her husband, daughter, and son. To learn more about Bock and to donate to her campaign, visit: http://www.sharminbock.com/

Grace Nasri is the Assistant Editor at Iran Times International, a Huffington Post blogger and an Editor at the comparison engine FindTheBest.com.

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