The Rise of Candidate X - Page 5

The absolutely true story of how a complete unknown rocketed from political obscurity, electrified the city, tackled real problems, and beat Ed Lee in 2015. 

All illustrations by Sean Morgan

District 6 incumbent Jane Kim appears to have narrowly won reelection after being strongly challenged by three candidates to her left, who criticized her ties to Mayor Lee and her sponsorship of the big tax break for Twitter and other mid-Market businesses almost four years ago. But Kim appeared to blunt that criticism by leading this year's repeal on that and other business tax breaks and firmly aligning herself with Candidate X.

Kim's vote in favor of raising fees on Ellis Act evictions and more than tripling the fees charged to office developers for Muni and affordable housing almost certainly saved her seat and the refusal of Farrell and Cohn to support the tenant and economic fairness agenda were major factors in the campaigns that unseated them.

SFmagXCandidate X defies easy categorization, and confusion surrounding this political dynamo's gender identity is just the tip of the iceberg.

Since announcing her candidacy, she's been the subject of rampant speculation among the city's political insiders. Is she a native Spanish speaker, or did she grow up speaking Cantonese? Was she born and raised in San Francisco, or is she a transplant from the Midwest, or a foreign-born resident? Which supervisorial district does she live in? What is her annual income? Does Candidate X have any tattoos?


For all the questions this rollercoaster-like campaign has raised, Candidate X has left little doubt about his stance on certain issues. He frequently spouts a philosophy of "radical inclusion," which he says could be put into practice in San Francisco city government by creating an online platform where all residents could log in and vote directly on discretionary funding allocation. He's proposed eliminating the system of mayoral commission appointments altogether, instead allowing residents to digitally cast votes for commissioners. And he's floated the idea of making every single public document tagged, searchable, and readily available, to anyone, the moment it's created.

Candidate X's unique method of campaign fundraising has spurred several economic studies. She's created partnerships with a wide network of independently owned, San Francisco small businesses to allow customers to chip in a bit extra when they make a purchase, then used her considerable social media reach to encourage supporters to shop at those businesses. The approach has helped her tap a broad pool of donors, while sending new clientele through the doors of struggling proprietors in every corner of the city, many of whom have been losing ground in the face of rising rents and competition from national chain stores.

Candidate X has also organized campaign fundraising events with sliding scale admission fees. They are rumored to draw large, diverse crowds and occasionally last until sunrise, with attendees lingering for impassioned political discussion long after the performers have left. The events tend to start early in the evening with talks by local artists and authors, followed by aerial circus arts performances and live sets by Bay Area bands spanning a wide range of musical genres.