The District 8 dilemma

The Castro/Noe Valley district offers the sharpest contrasts between candidates — and is getting the least attention

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Rafael Mandleman is clearly the most progressive candiate to in the D-8 race

tredmond@sfbg.com

Gabriel Haaland, a longtime queer labor activist, was talking to a friend from District 8 the other day, chatting about the race for a supervisor to fill the shoes of Harvey Milk, Harry Britt, Mark Leno, and Bevan Dufty. "She told me that she didn't know who to vote for," Haaland said, "because she didn't know who the progressive was in the race."

For supporters of Rafael Mandelman, that's a serious challenge. "The polls are very consistent," Haaland said. "Most of the voters in D-8 would prefer a progressive over a moderate, and when they know who the progressive is, they support that candidate."

But oddly enough, although District 8 — the Castro, Noe Valley, and parts of the Mission — is one of the most politically active parts of the city, where voter turnout is consistently high, the supervisorial race is getting only limited media attention. The neighborhood and queer papers are doing a good job of covering the race, but for the rest of the media, it's as if nothing's happening. And that's left voters confused about what ought to be a very clear choice.

The San Francisco Chronicle featured the District 6 race on the front page Sept. 19, with a long story about how demographic changes in the South of Market area would affect the successor to Sup. Chris Daly. District 10, with the mad political scrum of 22 candidates, no clear front runner and endorsements all over the map, has received considerable media attention.

Yet D–8 — which offers by far the most striking distinctions between candidates and the sharpest divisions over issues — has been flying under the radar.

Three major candidates are in the race, two gay men and a lesbian. All of them, for what it's worth, are lawyers. Rafael Mandelman, who works for a firm that advises cities and counties, has the support of the vast majority of progressive leaders and organizations. Rebecca Prozan, a deputy district attorney, and Scott Wiener, a deputy city attorney, are very much on the moderate-centrist (some would say, by San Francisco standards, conservative) side of the political spectrum.

"As Barbara Boxer has said in her ads, the choice is clear," Aaron Peskin, chair of the local Democratic Party and a Mandelman backer, told us. "Not to exaggerate, but this is like Boxer v. Carly Fiornia, and Rafael is our Boxer."

Yet by almost all accounts, Wiener is ahead in the race.

 

ON THE ISSUES

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has been roughly divided in the past decade between the progressive camp and moderate camp. And while those labels are hard to define (the Chronicle won't even use the term "progressive," preferring "ultraliberal"), most observers have a basic grip on the differences.

The moderates, who tend to support Mayor Gavin Newsom, are social liberals but fiscal conservatives. They talk about the city surviving budget red ink without major tax increases. They talk about controlling government spending and increasing public safety. The progressives generally see local government as underfunded after four years of brutal cuts and support the idea of raising new revenue to fill the gap. They support tenants over landlords, seek stronger protections for affordable housing, support Sanctuary City, and oppose sit-lie.

Certainly with Wiener and Mandelman, it's abundantly clear where the candidates fall. The two agree on some things (they both oppose Prop. B, the pension-reform measure that would reduce health care payments for the children of city employees) and they both support nightlife. But overall, they take very different political stands.

Wiener told us, for example, that the city's structural budget problems won't be solved without cuts. "We're not going to able to tax our way out of this," he said in an endorsement interview. "We have to lower our expectations for government."

Comments

There is a dilemma for progressives in D8?

-marc

Posted by marcos on Sep. 21, 2010 @ 9:01 pm

"The polls are very consistent," Haaland said. "Most of the voters in D-8 would prefer a progressive over a moderate, and when they know who the progressive is, they support that candidate."

Leno destroying Migden, Dufty winning twice, Wiener winning... What the hell kind of poll is Haaland looking at? D8 ain't no progressive district.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 21, 2010 @ 9:46 pm

District 8 includes Noe Valley and the Castro -- two neighborhoods with high home ownership and relatively high incomes and levels of college degree holding voters.

It is probably the middle of the road in the SF spectrum, and residents pay attention over longer periods of time and are generally pretty good at smelling a rat or a proxy candidate.

This publication hated Dufty (not mentioned anywhere in this article) and Dufty was elected because people had respect for his work -- he paid his dues, and wasn't a proxy.

The reason Weiner is ahead in the poles is that same reason.

No amount of shrill finger pointing or splitting of hairs is going to make any difference in a district like 8.

Put your energy on 6, where the real fight is in full flower as we speak. Just the number of phones ringing with pollsters in D6 tells you its the race to watch.

Posted by Not so fast on Sep. 22, 2010 @ 8:50 am

It is totally a progressive district if you use the national definition of progressive rather then the homespun city version. All three candidates are by the national definition, very, very progressive.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 22, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

It's only progressive because this country's "center" is way out in right field.

Posted by Greg on Sep. 23, 2010 @ 7:38 am

"But oddly enough, although District 8 — the Castro, Noe Valley, and parts of the Mission — "

Please don't forget Glen Park is part of District 8. While it might be as outspoken a neighborhood as Noe or Castro, that doesn't dampen its importance.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 23, 2010 @ 5:42 am

I'm of the opinion that we should expunge "moderate" from our political vernacular. The same goes for "pragmatic" and "practical", since they are nothing more than slurs at progressives. Scott and those like him are not even conservatives (though, for now, I'm O.K. with describing him that way). They are social service corporatists. Henceforth, when speaking of Scott Wiener et al., they should be called "corporatists". Conservative, when properly used, would more accurately reflect the ideology of a libertarian.

Posted by Matt Stewart on Sep. 26, 2010 @ 9:44 am

By the way, did you notice how the conservative-corporatists are put on the defensive when you call them conservatives? They don't need to do that when progressives give them the "moderate/practical/pragmatic" free pass. I think every progressive should take a course in linguistics.

Posted by Matt Stewart on Sep. 26, 2010 @ 9:50 am

The goofy left is so caught up in how dumb we all our they think that by changing word meanings and removing some words from usage they will change the whole way everyone looks at the world, to their way.

Matt Stewart is like the born againers who thinks that if they call late term abortions "partial birth abortions" enough they will get over.

His post is also interesting in that the Jesus types have claimed "conservative" and the so-called progressives have claimed "liberal", while neither are.

Many people don't want to be put in a group with authoritarians like the progressives or born again types, so yes, maybe they don't want to be lumped in with kooks. The spectrum is probably off too, to the SF progressive, not wanting the government to manage people's lives for them is conservative.

Posted by matlock on Sep. 26, 2010 @ 10:26 am

Now, now, 'matlock',

The left is just finally getting wise to, and employing effectively, the same old Orwellian word tricks that right wing reactionaries and corporate elites have been deploying for decades to very effectively warp the shit out of the public discourse.

But, thanks to Lakoff and others like him, we are at last learning to turn the tables on your asses.

What's the matter 'Matty', can't handle a little heated competition in the joke-ass circus ring of public debate that you helped erect?

Ah well... regardless.. I gather you'll still be whining your way to the bank for a long time to come...

Posted by Eric Brooks on Sep. 26, 2010 @ 11:55 am

From my post

"Matt Stewart is like the born againers who thinks that if they call late term abortions "partial birth abortions" enough they will get over."

You

"What's the matter 'Matty', can't handle a little heated competition in the joke-ass circus ring of public debate that you helped erect?"

It is sad what has become of supposed liberals. The SF liberal really doesn't have much of anything without attacking the far end of the spectrum. Its always Glen Beck this, Rush Limbaugh that, or reactionary this, or corporate elite that, while the vast majority of people could careless about those loudmouths or these ravings.

Is it that Brooks and Stewart think that anyone not a so-called progressive is really the same thing as a Glen Beck listener?

There really needs to be an update for "the Paranoid Style of American Politics" and include the progressives and born again types.

Posted by matlock on Sep. 26, 2010 @ 1:31 pm

Matlock: Please refer to my policy of not getting into intellectual debates with drooling lobotomy experiments. And that, as they say, is that.

Posted by Matt Stewart on Sep. 26, 2010 @ 4:05 pm

cracking me up.

Posted by matlock on Sep. 26, 2010 @ 4:47 pm