She was elected to the Berkeley City Council in 1971, served two terms as Berkeley mayor, worked as the US Department of Education's western regional director under Bill Clinton, and has been in the State Assembly the past six years. On just about every progressive issue in the state, she's been an activist and a leader. And at a time when the state is facing a devastating, crippling budget crisis that makes every other issue seem unimportant, Hancock seems to have a clear grasp of the problem and how to address it. She's thought through the budget calculus and offers a range of new revenue measures and a program to change the rules for budget passage (two-thirds vote in the legislature is needed to pass any budget bill, which gives Republicans, all but one who has taken a Grover Norquistinspired pledge never to raise taxes, an effective veto).
Chan, who represented Oakland in the assembly for six years, is a fighter: she's taken on the insurance industry (by cosponsoring a major single-payer health insurance bill), the chemical industry (by pushing to ban toxic materials in furniture, toys, and plumbing fixtures), and the alcoholic-beverages lobby (by seeking taxes to pay for treatment for young alcoholics). She's an advocate of sunshine, not just in government, where she's calling for an earlier and more open budget process, but also in the private sector: a Chan bill sought to force health insurance companies to make public the figures on how often they decline claims.
But she seems to us to have less of a grasp of the budget crisis and the level of political organizing it will take to solve it. Right now, at a time of financial crisis, we're going with Hancock's experience and broader vision.
State Assembly, District 12
We were dubious about Ma. She was a pretty bad supervisor, and when she first ran for Assembly two years ago, we endorsed her opponent. But Ma's done some good things in Sacramento she's become one of the leading supporters of high-speed rail, and she's working against state Sen. Leland Yee's attempt to give away 60 acres of public land around the Cow Palace to a private developer. She has no primary opponent, and we'll endorse her for another term.
State Assembly, District 13
This one's easy. Ammiano, who has been a progressive stalwart on the Board of Supervisors for more than 15 years, is running with no opposition in the Democratic primary for state Assembly, and we're proud to endorse his bid.
Although he's certain to win, it's worth taking a moment to recall the extent of Ammiano's service to San Francisco and the progressive movement. He authored the city's domestic partners law. He authored the living wage law. He created the universal health care program that Mayor Newsom is trying to take credit for. He sponsored the 2002 public-power measure that would have won if the election hadn't been stolen. He created the Children's Fund. He authored the Rainy Day Fund law that is now saving the public schools in San Francisco. And the list goes on and on.
Beyond his legislative accomplishments, Ammiano has been a leader at times, the leader of the city's progressive movement and is at least in part responsible for the progressive majority now on the Board of Supervisors. In the bleak days before district elections, he was often the only supervisor who would carry progressive bills.