Jeff Adachi has been an excellent public defender and talks passionately about social justice. He has strong roots in the progressive community. We give him credit for forcing pension reform onto the agenda. But he seems a bit too willing to attack the public sector as the source of the city's economic woes — he refused to support the last public power measure and his main budget proposal is to make city employees pay more for their pensions –without in any way pairing that with a hike in the taxes that big businesses and wealthy people pay. And his lone-wolf approach to the pension issue has been divisive and doesn't play well in this labor town.
Joanna Rees has offered some interesting, independent ideas, but she's never held any elective office or had any involvement in local politics.
That leaves Sen. Leland Yee. A classic lesser of the evils.
Yee has a very mixed record. He was a conservative School Board member who wouldn't even talk about higher taxes and once tried to split the wealthier West Side off into its own school district. He had a pretty bad voting record on the Board of Supervisors, particularly on tenant issues. He didn't support health benefits for transgender city employees. But on a board almost entirely controlled by then-Mayor Brown, he was something of an independent, one of only two or three supervisors ever willing to go up against the powerful mayor.
And he's moved to the left in the past couple of years. He has fully apologized for his vote on transgender benefits, has been strong on labor issues — and is (and always has been) a leading voice on open government. He has 100 percent voting scores from the leading labor and environmental groups in Sacramento. He has the support of a lot of local progressive groups, including SEIU Local 1021. He is supporting the proposal by Sup. David Campos to close the loophole in the city's health-care law. He told us he would oppose any effort to change district elections.
Yee makes us nervous. As we noted in a profile (see "The Real Leland Yee," 8/30/11):
"He's grown, changed, and developed his positions over time. Or he's become an expert at political pandering, telling every group exactly what it wants to hear. He's the best chance progressives have of keeping the corrupt old political machine out of City Hall — or he's a chameleon who will be a nightmare for progressive San Francisco.
"Or maybe he's a little bit of all of that."
But in the end, after 24 years in public life, it's safe to say that Yee is not part of the old machine, not part of the Newsom/Kawa/Brown team that put Lee in office, not part of anyone's corrupt operation. He's himself, for better and for worse, and he'll clean house in the Mayor's Office. And at a time when City Hall could too easily drift back into the very bad old days, we're willing to take a chance on Leland Yee.
1. David Onek
2. Sharmin Bock
3. Bill Fazio
District Attorney George Gascon is not a bad guy. He was a better police chief than many of the people we've seen in that job. He has a history of standing up for immigrants under very, very difficult circumstances — as the chief of police in Mesa, Arizona he had to tangle with a rabidly anti-immigrant sheriff and a conservative population, and he emerged with solid credentials. He brought some much-needed professionalism and stronger management practices to the SFPD. He's personable, accessible and works hard to stay in touch with the community. As D.A., he's worked well with the public defender and has (finally) come around to opposing the death penalty.
We just wish that Gavin Newsom hadn't decided that the way to advance his own political career and agenda was to put his police chief in the District Attorney's Office.