San Francisco races
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
In the fall of 2011, Supervisor Eric Mar introduced legislation banning the sale of toys as part of a fast-food meal promotion — and instantly, Mar and his colleagues became the target of national jokes. Right-wing radio went nuts. The Chronicle lampooned him. Even the Daily Show did a segment teasing him and suggesting that parents could control their kids' nutritional intake just fine.
Lost in the media furor was the fact that a lot of parents — and much of the activists fighting the epidemic of childhood obesity — loved the law. And McDonald's responded by ending free toys in its San Francisco happy meals. Also lost was the fact that Mar was, generally, a hard-working, serious-minded supervisor who has pushed for tenant and senior protections, better transit, and help for small independent businesses. He's been a leader in the fight against chain stores and the malling of San Francisco.
His race for re-election is also one of the defining contests in San Francisco this fall.
We endorsed Mar with enthusiasm four years ago, and for most of his term, he's done a fine job. But in the past few months he's started to waver on key issues. He voted the wrong way on 8 Washington (condos for millionaires on the waterfront), and it was a struggle to get him to support Mike Hennessey over Ed Lee for mayor. He went completely south on the Sept. 25 vote giving the mayor complete control of the successor to the Redevelopment Agency. He voted in favor of a ban on recreation vehicles parking on city streets — a direct attack on homeless people. He's been less-than dynamic on promoting new revenue sources. He's siding more and more with the mayor and is no longer the reliable progressive vote he once was. And guess what? All of those pro-development, pro-mayor votes are now paying off for him — we hear Rose Pak, a key supporter of 8 Washington, is now out raising money for Mar. Ick.
But so far, Mar's still rock solid on tenant issues — he helped create owner-move-in eviction protections for families with kids. He's a strong support of bus rapid transit on the Geary corridor. He supports Clean Power SF (and eventual municipal ownership of the power grid). He has the support of every progressive elected official and organization and, for all his occasional bad votes, his re-election in a district that is not by any means the most left-leaning in the city is a high priority.
Mar's opponent, David Lee, is the candidate of downtown, the landlords, and the cops. He has the support of Senator Dianne Feinstein, former Mayor Gavin Newsom, the Police Officers Association, Plan C, and just about everyone else in town who has sought to undermine progressive politics and legislation.
As executive director of the Chinese-American Voter Education Project, Lee has taken millions of dollars (including huge contributions from downtown interests, while refusing to provide a full breakdown) and used about a third of it on his $90,000 annual salary and that of his wife, Jing, according to federal disclosure records. While he claims to have registered 100,000 voters — claiming to highly value voting while sometimes failing to do so himself, according to election records — Lee's more public role has been to repeatedly and deceptively go after the ranked-choice voting system and take other moderate stands in media interviews.
Lee served as a member of the Recreation and Park Commission since 2005, presiding over the controversial privatization schemes that have alienated so many San Franciscans that there is an unprecedented level of opposition to this year's proposed parks bond.