OPINION The choice confronting voters in the State Senate District 3 primary in June 2008 is about electing the best candidate who personifies the direction, tone, and future of the progressive movement. Voters want positive changes, unequivocal vision, tangible accomplishments, and a leader who drives the movement forward.
Mark Leno represents the best progressive choice for that type of change. He is an articulate, innovative, and effective assemblymember who always makes a concerted effort to reach out to the people he serves with boundless energy; he will work equally hard as a senator.
As a legislator, Leno ensures that the voices of his constituents are well represented. His issues are driven by the communities he serves. He focuses on advancing controversial issues despite opposition in Sacramento, and he continues to achieve impressive political, cultural, and social milestones.
While serving on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Leno created the nation's first medical cannabis identification program, which has become a model for similar programs across California.
On environmental issues, Leno has also won nationwide acclaim for his efforts to promote the use of renewable energy sources such as solar power in San Francisco and across the state.
When it comes to tenant rights, Leno's legislative record speaks for itself. After many suffered the negative impact of Ellis Act evictions, he authored Assembly Bill 1217 to protect the disabled, elderly, and disadvantaged single-room-occupancy tenants from becoming homeless.
Leno has earned his reputation as a champion and visionary by introducing legislation that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in housing and employment. Much like the transgender medical benefit legislation that he introduced as a member of the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco, his AB 196 is arguably one of California's most significant nondiscrimination laws ever enacted to protect transgender people.
In 2005, Leno's groundbreaking LGBT civil rights legislation to support marriage equality was the first in the nation to win approval by both houses of a state legislature. Although Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill, Leno has reintroduced it and will not quit until it becomes law.
Leno is running for the District 3 State Senate seat because he believes that elective offices belong to the people. He will bring to the office his integrity, experience, and accomplishments in protecting marginalized and underserved communities, promoting environmental protection, and developing alternative sources of energy, and he'll still remain independent of special interests. He introduces innovative solutions to difficult problems and represents the values of the people of Northern California.
For all these reasons, Mark Leno is our best choice for change. *
Theresa Sparks is president-elect of the San Francisco Police Commission. Cecilia Chung is deputy director of the Transgender Law Center.