Chiu's challenge - Page 2

Mayoral candidate wants to demonstrate that a new consensus is possible

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PHOTO BY LUKE THOMAS

But Chiu is uniquely positioned to turn that rhetoric into a reality at City Hall — if it's possible. Over the past two years, he took the lead on challenging bad budget proposals from the Mayor's Office and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, only to back down in the end and make compromises that many of his progressive colleagues opposed. Similarly, he spent months working on a business tax reform measure that would have raised city revenue without costing private sector jobs, only to abandon it in the face of big business opposition.

This year, some progressives are banking on Chiu to deliver on their issues and have offered his mayoral campaign their early support.

"He's willing to take bold moves to make Muni continue to improve," MTA Commissioner and cycling activist Cheryl Brinkman told the gathering.

"There is no one running for mayor who has David's zeal for social and environmental justice," Fei Tsen, chair of Chinatown Community Development Corporation — a core Chiu constituency — told the gathering.

"I think he's the right choice for low-income communities of color," Planning Commission Christina Olague said at the event.

Sup. Eric Mar, the only elected official at Chiu's kickoff, told the crowd that "David Chiu has shown he has the ability to bring communities together,"

But the rest the progressive community, from elected officials like Assemblymember Tom Ammiano and Sup. David Campos to the leading advocates for renters, environmentalists, and the social and environmental justice movements, are still waiting to see what happens this year. Many are disappointed that Chiu is pushing tax breaks for Twitter and other corporations rather than progressive budget solutions, as well as putting moderate supervisors in control of some key board committees.

In an era of fiscal desperation, it may not be possible to bring progressives and downtown together around a common agenda. But if Chiu wants to try, voters are likely to learn whether that approach works even before they head to the polls in November.