The underground campaign - Page 3

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

"We need to start looking at preventative measures."

In addition to mentoring, after-school programs, and education, Holmes specifically advocates comprehensive community resource centers — a kind of one-stop shopping for citizens in need of social services — "so individuals do not have to travel that far outside their neighborhoods. If we start putting city services out into the communities, then not only are we looking at a cost savings to city government, but we're also looking at a reduction in crime."

Sumchai, a physician, has studied the cycles of violence that occur as victims become perpetrators and thinks more medical approaches should be applied to social problems. "I would like to see the medical community address violence as a public health problem," she said.

Holmes said he thinks the people who work on violence prevention need to be homegrown. "We also need to talk about bringing individuals to the table who understand what's really going on in the streets," he said. "The answer is not bringing in some professional or some doctor from Boston or New York because they had some elements of success there.

"When you take a plant that's not native to the soil and try to plant it, it dies.... If there's no way for those program elements or various modalities within those programs to take root somewhere, it's going to fail, and that's what we've seen in the Newsom administration."

Holmes spoke highly of former mayor Art Agnos's deployment of community workers to walk the streets and mitigate violence by talking to kids and brokering gang truces.

The fate of the southeast sector of the city concerns both locals. Sumchai grew up in Sunnydale, and Holmes lived in the Western Addition and now lives in Bernal Heights. Neither is pleased with the city's redevelopment plan for the Hunters Point Shipyard. "I have never felt that residential development at the shipyard would be safe," said Sumchai, who favors leaving the most toxic sites as much-needed open space.

Despite some relatively progressive ideas — Holmes suggested a luxury tax to finance housing and services for homeless individuals, and Sumchai would like to see San Francisco tax fatty foods to pay for public health programs — both were somewhat averse to aligning too closely with progressives.

Sumchai doesn't like the current makeup of the Board of Supervisors, and Holmes favors cutting management in government and turning services over to community-based organizations.

But both made it clear that Newsom isn't doing much for the African American community.


The mayor's race does have several colorful characters, from the oft-arrested Kaplan to nudist activist George Davis to ever-acerbic columnist and gadfly H. Brown. Yet two of the more unconventional candidates are also offering some of the more original and thought-provoking platforms in the race.

Activist-blogger Wolf made a name for himself by refusing to turn over to a federal grand jury his video footage from an anarchist rally at which a police officer was injured, defying a judge's order and serving 226 days in federal prison, the longest term ever for someone asserting well-established First Amendment rights.

The Guardian and others have criticized the San Francisco Police Department's conduct in the case and Newsom's lack of support.