The underground campaign - Page 2

Despite the veneer of Newsom's popularity, the mayor's race shows some real discontent -- and some good policy ideas

"The best kind of government is the least kind of government," Hoogasian told us.

Those are hardly your typical progressive sentiments.

Yet Hoogasian has also embraced the Guardian's call for limiting new construction of market-rate housing until the city develops a plan to encourage the building of more housing affordable to poor and working-class San Franciscans. He supports public power, greater transparency in government, a moratorium on the privatization of government services, and a more muscular environmentalism. And he thinks the mayor is out of touch.

"I'm a native of San Francisco, and I'm pissed off," said Hoogasian, whose father ran for mayor 40 years ago with a similar platform against Joe Alioto. "Newsom is an empty suit. When was the last time the mayor stood before a pool of reporters and held a press conference?"

Mecke, program director of the Safety Network, a citywide public safety program promoting community-driven responses to crime and violence, is equally acerbic when it comes to Newsom's news-release style of governance.

"It's great that he wants to focus on the rock star elements, but we have to demand public accountability," said Mecke, who as a member of the Shelter Monitoring Committee helps inspect the city's homeless shelters to ensure that people are treated with dignity and respect. "Even Willie Brown had some modicum of engagement."

Mecke advocates for progressive solutions to the crime problem. "We need to get the police to change," he said. "At the moment we have 10 fiefdoms, and the often-touted idea of community policing doesn't exist."

Hoogasian said he jumped into the mayor's race after "this bozo took away 400 garbage cans and called it an antilitter program." Mecke leaped into the race the day after progressive heavyweight Sup. Chris Daly announced he wasn't running, and he won the supervisor's endorsement. Both Hoogasian and Mecke express disgust at Newsom's ignoring the wishes of San Franciscans, who voted last fall in favor of the mayor attending Board of Supervisors meetings to have monthly policy discussions.

"Why is wi-fi on the ballot [Proposition J] if the mayor didn't respect that process last year?" Mecke asked.

Hoogasian characterized Newsom's ill-fated Google-EarthLink deal as "a pie-in-the-sky idea suited to getting young people thinking he's the guns" while only giving access to "people sitting on the corner of Chestnut with laptops, drinking lattes."

In light of San Francisco's housing crisis, Hoogasian said he favors a moratorium on market-rate housing until 25,000 affordable units are built, and Mecke supports placing a large affordable-housing bond on next year's ballot, noting, "We haven't had one in 10 years."

Hoogasian sees Newsom's recent demand that all department heads give him their resignations as further proof that the mayor is "chickenshit." Mecke found it "embarrassing" that Sup. Ross Mirkarimi had to legislate police foot patrols twice in 2006, overcoming Newsom vetoes.

"San Francisco should give me a chance to make this city what it deserves to be, " Hoogasian said.

Mecke said, "I'm here to take a risk, take a chance, regardless of what I think the odds are."


Holmes and Sumchai have made the murder rate and the city's treatment of African Americans the centerpieces of their campaigns. Both support increased foot patrols and more community policing, and they agree that the root of the problem is the need for more attention and resources.

"The plan is early intervention," Holmes said, likening violence prevention to health care.