Class of 2010: Jane Kim

The young progressive from D6 talks about broadening the movement to include jobs and safe, clean streets

Jane Kim thanks supporters on election night.
Tim Daw

Despite fears that a candidate backed by downtown could replace firebrand progressive leader Sup. Chris Daly in District 6, in the end it was the two progressive candidates — Jane Kim and Debra Walker — who finished far in front of the large pack of candidates, with Kim winning the race. And she thinks that says something about how the progressive movement has matured.

"To have the two leading candidates be progressives says a lot about the progressive political community," Kim said. "The race was really between Debra and me in end."

Kim, a 33-year-old attorney and the outgoing president of the San Francisco Board of Education, has been active in progressive politics in San Francisco for many years, from doing community organizing with the Chinatown Community Development Center to running the short-lived San Francisco People's Organization, which Daly helped create.

Yet part of her campaign strategy, and the message that she's sending in the wake of an election that divided the progressive community, focuses on issues and themes that are more common to political moderates: job creation, clean streets, public safety, and neighborhood services.

"I think it's important for progressives to cross over, and I don't think it should be viewed as selling out," Kim told us. "Progressives need to do a good job at maintaining voters' faith in the progressives' ability to lead."

In addition to courting progressive groups and voters, Kim's campaign aggressively targeted residents of the residential condo towers in Rincon Hill and Eastern SoMa, voters who are generally more affluent and newer to San Francisco than the typical progressive constituencies.

"It's a lot of new residents who don't feel like they're a part of any political faction and they're really open," Kim said. "People just want to see that things are better. They want the streets to be clean and safe."

With a new mayor and new blood on the Board of Supervisors, Kim said this is an important political moment for San Francisco, "a huge opportunity" to redefine San Francisco politics in the wake of Mayor Gavin Newsom and progressive supervisors such as Aaron Peskin, Matt Gonzalez, Tom Ammiano, and Daly.

"The Class of 2000 was able to show how progressive we can be with policy. They really pushed the envelope," Kim said, citing new worker and tenant protections and programs such as Healthy San Francisco. Now, she said, the challenge for progressives in the Classes of 2010 and 2008 is to show that they can provide effective leadership in realms like public safety and economic development. "If we're able to lead on those two issues, it would really firm up our leadership of the city," Kim said, noting that it would also affect the dynamics of next year's mayor's race.

While Kim didn't go into detail about how she intends to deal with what she says is the biggest challenge facing the new board — a budget deficit of $700 million over two years, coming at a time when all the easy cuts have already been made in recent years — she said the city needs to be aggressive in boosting the local economy and ensuring San Franciscans get most city contracts.

"We need to figure out how we can partner with small business to create a diversity of jobs in San Francisco," she said, noting that the average San Franciscan has more faith in the moderates' ability to create jobs, something that progressives need to address. But how can she help break the grip that the conservative San Francisco Chamber of Commerce has on small businesses?


These comments aren't reaching out to me at all. Maybe Rincon Hill, the NIMBYs and regressive tax crowd. It doesn't sound like she's going to be a strong advocate at all or has any understanding of how tough the situation is here in terms of troubled people's needs - no empathy or compassion except for cleaner streets. She sounds like a wishy-washy Chiu clone. I think I'll look for housing in D5 or elsewhere.

Posted by Mark Barnes on Dec. 09, 2010 @ 1:03 am

I'm disappointed that Jane Kim made no mention of the huge elephant in the District 6 room: development of high rise luxury condominiums. District 6 is ground zero for this kind of development for which there is no practical need, other than to line the pockets of developers and employ construction workers for finite periods of time. With this kind of development comes the loss of space (on the ground and in the air) for building the kind of housing that is needed: truly affordable housing. In addition, it continues of massive demographic change that forces people below a certain income to leave the city. Various well-heeled groups of people have, over the decades, been salivating at the thought of these changes, as they complete what Redevelopment only began many decades ago.

Some people use an environmental argument to promote such developments, but if most people cannot afford to live in such high rises, how can they possibly prevent people from moving out to the more affordable suburbs?

How could Kim and the Bay Guardian miss a discussion on this topic -- and the impact such development will have on existing city-provided services? Did the SFBG fail to ask?

Posted by Sue on Dec. 09, 2010 @ 2:06 pm

housing that is needed?

It's great that you want it built, I think it would be great too, but who is going to finance it? Proclamations on what other people should be doing is one thing, but some details would be interesting on how building this kind of housing that we need will come about?

On the other hand we can let our cities SUV progressives buy up all sorts of land, pay taxes on it, and you can spend it on the bottomless pit.

And when is one of these "discussions" not a progressive just talking at you?

Posted by matlock on Dec. 09, 2010 @ 5:40 pm


Those new condo towers have an affordable housing mandate. So a significant number of housing units for the poor get built along with them, if not on-site, then somewhere close.

Moreover, it is ridiculous to argue that there is no demand for these condo's when they easily sell out. And each million dollar condo provides another thousand a month in property tax receipts for the city.

What this city needs is more housing, and if the rich aren't buying new condo's in SOMA, they'd be bidding up the prices of existing housing stock in the Mission or elsewhere. So paradoxically, those new condo's not only create new affordable housing, but also help to preserve that already existsing.

Kim understand that, those who voted for her understand that.

Posted by Tom on Dec. 09, 2010 @ 5:09 pm

Progressive logic says " Don't build more highways or parking -- that only invites more people to drive cars so congestion will stay the same."

So why wouldn't building more "affordable " houseing just invite more people who need "affordable" housing ?

Why the city needs is a massive increase in luxury housing so the rich will stop driving up the price on the hovels the rest of us can use.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2010 @ 7:25 pm

I wish Jane every success. She ran a damn good campaign and is quite an accomplished presence!

Posted by Guest on Dec. 15, 2010 @ 1:41 pm

Jane Kim is an annoying rich scumbag

Posted by Guest on Jan. 26, 2011 @ 3:58 pm

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