Endorsements: Local offices

Mecke, Sumchai, and Chicken John for mayor. Plus: Other endorsements





Let us be perfectly clear: none of the people we are endorsing has any real chance of getting elected mayor of San Francisco. Gavin Newsom is going to win a second term; we know that, he knows that, and whatever they may say on the campaign trail, all of the candidates running against him know that.

It's a sad state of affairs: San Francisco has been, at best, wallowing helplessly in problems under Newsom, and in many cases things have gotten worse. The murder rate is soaring; young people, particularly African Americans, are getting shot down on the streets in alarming numbers. The mayor has opposed almost every credible effort to do something about it — he fought against putting cops on foot patrol in the most violent areas, he opposed the creation of a violence-prevention fund and blocked implementation of a community policing plan, and he's allowed the thugs in the Police Officers Association to set policy for a police department that desperately lacks leadership. The public transportation system is in meltdown. The housing crisis is out of control; 90 percent of the people who work in San Francisco can't afford to buy a house here, and many of them can't afford to rent either. Meanwhile, the city is allowing developers and speculators to build thousands of new luxury condos, which are turning San Francisco into a bedroom community for Silicon Valley. Newsom only recently seems to have noticed that public housing is in shambles and that the commission he appoints to oversee it has been ignoring the problem.

The mayor is moving aggressively to privatize public services (including turning over the city's broadband infrastructure to private companies), and he's done little to promote public power. He's cracking down on the homeless without offering adequate alternatives to long-term housing. Much of the time, he seems disconnected, out of touch with the city; he won't show up and take questions from the Board of Supervisors and won't even comply with the Sunshine Ordinance and release his daily calendar so the voters can see what he's doing all day. He rarely appears in public, unless his handlers have complete control of the situation.

In fact, almost all of the significant policy discussions and initiatives that are happening in San Francisco today (including the universal health plan that Newsom likes to take credit for) have come from the Board of Supervisors.

There are good things to say about Newsom. We were among the huge number of San Franciscans who applauded when Newsom directed the city to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He did more than make a political statement, more than allow hundreds of couples to get married; he put one of the leading civil rights issues of our time on the center stage of the political agenda. And he made all of us proud to be San Franciscans. We were happy to see him stand up against the big international hotel chains and support striking hotel workers. In some ways, he's brought modern management to the city — the 311 system, which connects callers directly to the proper city services, actually works, and sometimes works well.

But San Francisco is one of the world's great cities, and it's in serious trouble, and the person in charge isn't offering much in the way of leadership — and he certainly isn't offering the sort of progressive agenda that this city ought to be showing the nation. Newsom doesn't deserve another term.

And yet the progressives in the city, who have come so very far since the return of district elections in 2000, were unable to field an electable candidate. We could spend pages dissecting why that happened. Matt Gonzalez should have made a decision much earlier in the process. Ross Mirkarimi should have run.