The people's election - Page 6

On (almost) every level, the grassroots beat the establishment and the progressives beat the big money
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San Franciscans celebrate America
Photo by Stefan Jora

The good news — and it's very good news — is that (as Newsom famously proclaimed) same-sex marriage is coming, whether opponents like it or not. That's because the demographics can't be denied: the vast majority of voters under 30 support same-sex marriage. This train is going in only one direction, and the last remaining issue is how, and when, to make the next political move.

The progressives didn't win everything in San Francisco. Proposition H, the Clean Energy Act, was taken down by one of the most high-priced and misleading campaigns in the city's history. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. spent more than $10 million telling lies about Prop. H, and with the daily newspapers virtually ignoring the measure and never challenging the utility's claims, the measure went down.

"This was a big, big, big money race," Latterman said. "In San Francisco, you spend $10 million and you're going to beat just about anything."

But activists aren't giving up on pushing the city in the direction of more renewable energy (see Editorial).

Latterman said the narrow passage of Prop. V, which asked the school board to consider reinstating JROTC, wasn't really a victory. "I would not call this a mandate. I worked with the campaign, and they weren't looking for 53 percent. They were looking for 60-plus percent," Latterman said. "I think you'll see this issue just go away."

Neither Latterman nor Clemens would speculate on who the next president of the Board of Supervisors will be, noting that there are just too many variables and options, including the possibility that a newly elected supervisor could seek that position.

At this point the obvious front-runner is Ross Mirkarimi, who not only won re-election but received more votes than any other candidate in any district. Based on results at press time, more than 23,000 people voted for Mirkarimi; Sean Elsbernd, who also had two opponents, received only about 19,000.

Mirkarimi worked hard to get Avalos, Chiu, and Mar elected, sending his own volunteers off to those districts. And with four new progressives elected to the board, joining Mirkarimi and veteran progressive Chris Daly, the progressives ought to retain the top job.

Daly tells us he won't be a candidate — but he and Mirkarimi are not exactly close, and Daly will probably back someone else — possibly one of the newly elected supervisors.

"It's going to be the most fascinating election that none of us will participate in," Clemens said.

The danger, of course, is that the progressives will be unable to agree on a candidate — and a more moderate supervisor will wind up controlling committee appointments and the board agenda.

One of the most important elements of this election — and one that isn't being discussed much — is the passage of three revenue-generating measures. Voters easily approved a higher real-estate transfer tax and a measure that closed a loophole allowing law firms and other partnerships to avoid the payroll tax. Progressives have tried to raise the transfer tax several times in the past, and have lost hard-fought campaigns.

That may mean that the anti-tax sentiment in the city has been eclipsed by the reality of the city's devastating budget problems. And while Newsom didn't do much to push the new tax measures, they will make his life much easier: the cuts the city will face won't be as deep thanks to the additional $50 million or so in revenue.

It will still be a tough year for the new board. The mayor will push for cuts that the unions who supported the newly elected progressives will resist. A pivotal battle over the city's future — the eastern neighborhoods rezoning plan — will come before the new board in the spring, when the recent arrivals will barely have had time to move into their offices.

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