Endorsements 2010: San Francisco candidates




Frankly, we were a little surprised by the Janet Reilly who came in to give us her pitch as a District 2 supervisorial candidate. The last time we met with her, she was a strong progressive running for state Assembly as an advocate of single-payer health care. She was challenging Fiona Ma from the left, and easily won our endorsement.

Now she's become a fiscal conservative — somewhat more in synch with her district, perhaps, but not an encouraging sign. Reilly seems to realize that there's a $500 million budget deficit looming, but she won't support any of the tax measures on the ballot. She's against the hotel tax. She's against the real estate transfer tax on high-end properties. She's against the local car tax. She opposed Sup. David Chiu's business tax plan that would have shifted the burden from small to larger businesses (even though it was clear from our interview that she didn't understand it).

She talked about merging some of the nonprofits that get city money, about consolidating departments, and better management — solutions that might stem a tiny fraction of the red ink. But she wouldn't even admit that the limited tax burden on the very rich was part of San Francisco's budget problem.

Her main proposal for creating jobs is more tax credits for biotech, life sciences, and digital media and more public-private partnerships.

It's too bad, because Reilly's smart, and she's far, far better than Mark Farrell, the candidate that the current incumbent, Michela Alioto-Pier, is backing. We wish she'd be realistic about the fiscal nightmare she would inherit as a supervisor.

On the positive side, she's a strong supporter of public power and she has good connections to the progressive community. Unlike Alioto-Pier, she'd be accessible, open-minded, and willing to work with the progressive majority on the board. That would be a dramatic change, so we'll give her the nod.

We were also impressed with Abraham Simmons, a federal prosecutor who has spent time researching city finance on the Civil Grand Jury. But he supports sit-lie, Prop. B and Prop. S, and opposes most new tax proposals and needs more political seasoning.




We've always wanted to like Carmen Chu. She's friendly, personable, intelligent, and well-spoken. But on the issues, she's just awful. Indeed, we can't think of a single significant vote on which she's been anything but a call-up loyalist for Mayor Newsom. She even opposed the public power measure, Prop. H, that had the support of just about everyone in town except hardcore PG&E allies.

She's running unopposed, and will be reelected. But we can't endorse her.






CORRECTION: In our original version of this endorsement, we said that Jim Meko supports the sit-lie ordinance. That was an error, and it's corrected below.

A year ago, this race was artist and activist Debra Walker's to lose. Most of the progressive community was united behind her candidacy; she'd been working on district issues for a couple of decades, fighting the loft developers during the dot-com boom years and serving on the Building Inspection Commission. Then School Board member Jane Kim decided to enter the race, leaving the left divided, splitting resources that might have gone to other critical district races — and potentially helping to put the most pro-business downtown candidate, Theresa Sparks, in a better position to win.

Now we've got something of a mess — a fragmented and sometimes needlessly divisive progressive base in a district that's key to holding progressive control of the board.

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