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The Democratic primary season is almost over. It’s almost certain that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee (and, for the sake of the nation, we hope she will be the next president). But it’s critical that people still go to the polls June 7.
On the national level, it’s about sending Bernie Sanders to the convention with as much clout as possible to shape the debate and the party platform.
On the local level, it’s a political war for the soul of the city.
It’s too bad that Mayor Ed Lee has created one of the most economically and politically divided cities in years. Just a few months into his final term, the mayor is so unpopular that he can hardly go out in public anymore; the police scandals, the homeless problems, the housing crisis … everywhere he goes, he is hit with questions he can’t answer.
And he has put San Francisco politics in a position where there is no middle ground left.
We have always appreciated and looked for independent voices in elective office, people who weren’t part of one party or slate or another. We are always wary of political machines, not matter who is in charge.
But in Ed Lee’s San Francisco, 2016, there is no room for a middle ground. The developers, the real-estate industry, the tech companies, Ron Conway and his folks are so close to controlling this town and driving the rest of us out that we have to fight back as a united front. There are young men of color dying in the streets, shot dead by the police, and the mayor is saying that the chief is doing a great job. There are too many evictions to count, day after day, and the mayor is missing in action. People who won’t choose sides under these conditions have already made a decision that the current situation is tolerable.
That’s very, very wrong.
The left in SF has always been a bit fractious, as it should be: Progressives don’t follow leaders very well, and the best of us are brought up to question authority. There has never been any form of serious party unity on the left, and that’s a good thing.
There are disagreements in this election, over some endorsements and some ballot measures, and we are among those who are not supporting the elected progressive leadership on some issues, like the Rec-Park set-aside (No on B!)
But overall, this is an election that is defined by two sides, by two approaches to public policy, by two distinct visions of San Francisco. And for the most part, we are urging our readers to look at the election in those terms. If you think the displacement, the evictions, the police killings, the housing crisis, the destruction of entire communities is okay, that a few moderate changes around the edges are all we need, then you are with the mayor. If you think this situation is radically unacceptable, then you are against him, and his allies, and the people he and his big-money backers support.
The June election is a precursor to the more important election in November, when six seats are up on the Board of Supervisors. The people elected to the Democratic County Central Committee will decide who the party endorses in those races – and the balance of power at City Hall will be up for grabs.
When it comes to the key races – state Senate and DCCC – there is no middle ground. Those days ended with Ed Lee cast his lot with the Conways of the world and put the city under siege. In that (unfortunate) spirit, our selections follow.
The most remarkable thing about this nominating contest is that it’s happening at all, and that California is playing at least some role. By the time June rolls around every four years, the decisions of the major parties are mostly pretty well done; California doesn’t matter. That not only hurts the state’s voters, who are denied a role (other than giving money) in choosing a presidential nominee; it hurts all of the down-ticket races, where turnout is lower than it should be.
It’s pretty much impossible at this point for Sanders to head into the convention with enough delegates to win the nomination; even an overwhelming win in California won’t change the math, and Hillary Clinton will be the nominee. But the battle is close enough, and public interest high enough, that the Sanders campaign will be bringing tens of thousands of voters, many of them new voters, to the polls June 7.
We don’t know how far down the ballot those voters will go – in fact, the Sanders campaign has largely failed so far to make the point that electing a president isn’t nearly enough: His agenda, and the Clinton agenda, will go nowhere if the Democrats don’t also take back the Senate and the House, and the House will continue to be dominated by right-wing Republicans unless Democrats take back state Legislatures and governor’s offices … and San Francisco will continue to be dominated by the real-estate industry and tech companies unless local voters put progressives in office at every level.
That said, the Sanders Movement has made huge strides nationally, energizing a new generation of voters and activists – and if he’s serious about his political “revolution,” he needs to make sure that those supporters don’t fade away when the election is over.
Sanders has his flaws, as a candidate and a potential president. He comes from an overwhelmingly white state, and has had trouble reaching out to and working with communities of color. He often comes across more as angry than charismatic.
But he’s the only major candidate for president in decades who has made income and wealth inequality and the failure of our political system the centerpiece of his campaign. He is talking about single-payer health care. He’s talking about raising taxes on the highest earners (even Obama didn’t go that far). He’s talking about breaking up the big banks and cracking down on Wall Street.
He’s both inspiring and refreshing – and the popularity of his message has put the notion of class conflict, of the 1 percent, of the collapse of the middle class on the national agenda in a way we haven’t seen since the heyday of Occupy.
We are not among those short-sighted people with no sense of history who say that there is no difference between Clinton and the Republicans, and that if Sanders loses they won’t come out to vote for her. If Clinton is, as expected, the Democratic nominee, we will support her and urge everyone else to do the same.
But for now, vote for Bernie Sanders, to let Clinton and the rest of the corporate leaders in the Democratic Party know that there is a strong constituency for economic change (which could influence her choice of VP). And let’s hope Sanders can keep his message alive.
United States Senator (Democratic)
We all might as well face facts: The day she announced she would not challenge Gavin Newsom for governor and would instead seek to replace longtime Sen. Barbara Boxer, Kamala Harris was the prohibitive front-runner. She will win the primary, and she will win the general election this fall.
We could do worse. The US Senate is not a bastion of progressive thought, and Boxer was one of its most reliable left-leaning members. Harris comes from a more moderate tradition; she was at best a cautious district attorney in San Francisco, who did nothing to take on political corruption. She has been a bit more aggressive in Sacramento, particularly on issues like same-sex marriage and immigration. She is smart, politically savvy, and incredibly ambitious.
Her opponent, Loretta Sanchez, has had a hard time getting much traction, and isn’t raising any important issues that could force Harris to debate (like, for example, the death penalty, which Harris didn’t promote as SF district attorney but has aggressively defended as AG).
Congress, District 12
Allow us to wallow for a moment in historical fantasy.
In 1987, after Sala Burton died of cancer, San Francisco had a rare contested race for Congress. Nancy Pelosi, who had never held any elective office and whose experience in politics was largely as a fundraiser, was the pick of the Burton Machine. Harry Britt, a supervisor and heir to Harvey Milk’s legacy, was the progressive community candidate. On Election Day, Britt came in first – but Pelosi’s campaign, using a new tactic of organizing absentee ballots, narrowly emerged as the victor. She quickly decided that San Francisco didn’t matter anymore – she wanted to be a national leader, so stepped adroitly away from the issues of her district (she was very, very late to endorse same-sex marriage) and became the first woman to serve as speaker of the House.
She also used her clout to support conservative politicians and causes at almost every level in San Francisco. She most famously turned the Presidio into a corporate park, allowing George Lucas to build an office building in what was supposed to be a national park, saving him $60 million in taxes, and setting the standard for the privatization of national parks everywhere.
A few thousand votes, and Britt might have had that seat – and while he would never have been speaker, he would have paid much more attention to his district and would have used his clout to promote a progressive agenda at home. San Francisco would be a different city today.
But that was then and this is now, and Pelosi is the best hope the Democrats have for taking back the House. If that doesn’t happen in the next two election cycles, she should probably step down and retire and give someone else a chance.
We’re glad to see Green Party candidate Barry Hermanson in the race, and it would be nice if he could get more votes than the Republican candidate and face Pelosi in the November election. That might force her to debate some critical local and national issues with a real progressive. Pelosi’s going to win anyway, so voting for Hermanson is a perfectly legitimate way to register a protest against the direction of the Democratic Party.
State Senator, District 11
The race to replace Sen. Mark Leno, who is leaving Sacramento after a distinguished career because of term limits, is one of the defining elements of San Francisco politics in 2016. The June election is only Round One – thanks to the odd “top two” primary system in place in California, both Democrats will advance to the November election. So, like David Campos and David Chiu two years ago, Kim and Sup. Scott Wiener will face off twice.
The two candidates represent the two sides of San Francisco politics today. Kim is part of the progressives on the Board of Supes, and Wiener is in the moderate (by SF standards, conservative) camp. They have taken dramatically different positions on issues, and it shows in their support.
Pretty much every left-leaning group in the city is with Kim. Wiener has the conservative unions, including the Police Officers Association, and it’s unclear to us why any San Francisco politician would want to be associated with that organization right now.
In fact, there’s no way to explain Wiener’s bizarre vote in April to oppose a bill sponsored by his ally and mentor Leno that would increase public access to police disciplinary records except for his wooing of law-enforcement groups.
Wiener is a hard-working supervisor and likes to say that by any standard, he would be a progressive in Sacramento (the state Senate is not by any stretch a bastion of liberal thought). He’s accessible and thoughtful. He’s been supportive of nightlife and entertainment in the city.
It’s just that on economic issues, he’s a conservative – that is, he believes in market-based solutions to issues like housing, he didn’t support the anti-speculation tax, he doesn’t support higher mandates for affordable housing, he was on Airbnb’s side in the critical vote on saving housing from conversion into hotels … he’s just wrong on most of the issues we care about.
Kim isn’t perfect, and she’s not by any stretch a left-wing radical. She supported the Twitter tax break (which turned out to be a big mistake). She works with developers to figure out how projects can get approved (yes, with additional affordable housing.) There have been times when she has clashed with her progressive allies.
But she presents a very different vision than Wiener. Kim has been on the right side of nearly every contested vote at the Board of Supes, from affordable housing to police accountability to Airbnb. There are plenty of moderate Democrats in Sacramento; the person representing San Francisco should be pushing the economic and political limits from the left.
And there’s a way better chance of that with Jane Kim.
Both candidates are smart, qualified, and ambitious, and both could play a role in the city’s future. The winner of this race could wind up as a candidate for Congress, or mayor; if that’s Wiener, the conservative element in the city would be empowered.
Wiener would be a state Senator who used his local influence to promote candidates and policies that favor the moderate side Kim; would be a part of a progressive coalition.
So this is about more than a state Senate seat, about more than how either of the candidates would vote in Sacramento. It’s about the city’s future and which side will control it.
That’s an easy choice. Vote for Jane Kim.
State Assembly, District 17
There will be a time, no doubt, when we will come around, and accept that David Chiu is the state Assembly member from the east side of San Francisco, and he will do some valid things in the future. But he was the author, with the help of Airbnb lobbyists, of the bill that legalized that company’s lucrative enterprise, which has taken thousands of housing units off the rental market in San Francisco, and he resisted mightily any efforts to make the law enforceable. He has endorsed Scott Wiener for state Senate (over his old friend and one-time ally Jane Kim).
When he first ran for public office, Chiu positioned himself as a progressive. He has sold out that constituency, and in the process, won higher office. He’s going to get re-elected, but this time around, he won’t have our endorsement.
State Assembly, District 19
Ting represents the more conservative side of the city, but he’s been a remarkably progressive member of the Assembly. As a former Assessor, he’s introduced legislation to close one of the critical loopholes in Prop 13, a scam that allows businesses to cheat the state when their property changes hands. He’s now the chair of the powerful Budget Committee, and we’d love to see him use that position to talk about more progressive taxes (like an oil-severance tax).
Ting, unlike Chiu, has aligned himself to a significant extent with the progressives. He’s endorsing Jane Kim for Senate. And we’re happy to endorse him for another term.
Superior Court Judge
Judicial elections are rare in San Francisco. In theory, judicial office is an elected position, but in practice, judges hate elections and avoid them whenever possible. Most judges retire mid-term, which allows the governor to appoint a replacement; sitting judges don’t even appear on the ballot when they are up for re-election unless someone challenges them, which hardly ever happens.
But in this case, incumbent Ernest Goldsmith decided to step down at the end of his term. So this is an unusual opportunity for the local legal profession – there’s an open seat, and any qualified lawyer can run.
Frankly, we’re surprised there aren’t more contenders: Lots of people who ought to be judges and who will never get appointed by any governor (Matt Gonzalez comes to mind, as does his former law partner Whitney Leigh) could be running. And it’s not as if the San Francisco Superior Court is doing just fine; there are some pretty bad judges on the bench, and it needs a nice shakeup.
In this case, there are three candidates, all of whom have some solid credentials, and some drawbacks.
Most of the political attention has focused on Victor Hwang, a civil rights lawyer, former public defender, and former prosecutor, and Paul Henderson, a long time deputy district attorney who for the past five years has worked for Mayor Ed Lee. A third candidate, Sigrid Irias, who has spent most of her career in corporate law, has won the endorsement of the Tenants Union and the Harvey Milk Club.
In terms of the geopolitics of the election, the race is something of a subset of the state Senate battle: Jane Kim is a strong backer of Hwang, and most of her allies are endorsing him. Scott Wiener and almost everyone in his camp backs Henderson.
But Irias, who has worked successfully as a pro-tem judge (including in eviction cases) and is former president of the La Raza Lawyers Association, is very much a contender.
Frankly, this is not an easy call for us.
Henderson is a smart, accomplished lawyer with a successful career as a prosecutor. He was the odds-on pick to replace Kamala Harris when she was elected attorney general, but at the last minute then-Mayor Gavin Newsom shocked everyone by appointing the police chief, George Gascon.
He gets good marks from everyone who worked with him, on both sides; the defense bar considers him ethical and reasonable, and as a gay African American man, he understands the reality of discrimination (and police abuse).
He is the only candidate who strongly and unequivocally supports more openness in the courts, who told us the judges should hold public meetings, and who would support televising most trials and court hearings.
But Henderson is part of the Ed Lee operation. For five years – while the local cops shot men of color with impunity, while the tech industry took over the city, while thousands were evicted – he was sitting there as a deputy chief of staff and criminal justice advisor. He told us that he “wasn’t the one making the decisions,” but he was part of that team. (And it’s not as if he was forced to take that job – law firms all over town would have lined up to hire him if he didn’t want to be part of the Lee Administration.) In the battle for San Francisco, he chose his side.
Irias is a credible candidate who could turn out to be a fine judge. She has a good understanding of the role of justice in administering the courts, and has done well as a pro tem. But her entire career has been in corporate law; she’s done very few trials, and has no background at all in criminal law. The Tenants Union likes the way she’s handled herself as a pro tem judge in landlord-tenant cases, and that’s a strong plus.
On paper, Hwang is by far the best candidate. He’s been a public defender (in LA), a civil rights lawyer, and a prosecutor. He’s had plenty of trial experience and has a strong background in public interest law (at the Asian Law Caucus and Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach). He’s on the Police Commission.
As managing attorney with the ALC, Hwang helped to get false charges dismissed against Wen Ho Lee, a scientist who the government claimed was giving nuclear secrets to China. The case turned out to be a horrible example of racial profiling, and Lee was cleared. Hwang was a Bay Guardian Local Hero in 2004.
We are still unhappy that Jane Kim engineered the move to have Hwang to replace Police Commissioner Angela Chan; Hwang has been a decent member of a generally bad panel, but Chan was better, and should have kept her seat. Still, it’s hard to hold that against a candidate for judge.
The bigger issue is that the defense bar, and in particular members of the Public Defender’s Office, have serious problems with Hwang. As a prosecutor, they say, he’s been unreasonable, pushing for harsher sentences and refusing to drop charges that don’t make sense. Public Defender Jeff Adachi, despite a long history with Hwang, has not endorsed him.
Hwang told us that as a prosecutor in the Hate Crimes Unit, he may have been “too aggressive” in pushing criminal enhancements that some of his predecessors bargained away. He made it clear when he arrived in that job that he would not dismiss hate-crime allegations under almost any circumstances – which is fine in theory, but in practice, the cops and DA’s Office often file charges that turn out to be bogus, and most line prosecutors in this city work with the defense to avoid trying cases that aren’t justified.
We understand the need to prosecute hate crimes, and prosecutors and defense lawyers often clash. But the folks in the PD’s Office and the DA’s Office typically treat each other with respect and maintain a professional relationship, and the concern we are hearing in this case is unusual.
Hwang got a harsh lesson in political reality when the Democratic County Central Committee, led by the allies of the city’s first Chinese mayor, whom Hwang helped elect, refused to endorse him (because the DCCC is run by the Wiener side of the party, which favors Henderson).
Given the options, and his long history of progressive public service (and the fact that nearly every progressive leader in the city is backing him) we will go with Hwang. But this is just the first round in the election; the two top finishers will face the voters again in November. And Hwang needs to convince the larger community that he can work with all sides with respect.
State ballot measures
Suspension of Legislators
It’s dangerous to allow anyone to suspend from office an elected official. The voters have an excellent way to remove people who violate public trust; it’s called the recall. But recall elections are tricky and expensive, and Prop. 50 would deal with the situation we’ve seen on too many occasions recently: State legislators like Leland Yee have been accused (and later convicted) of serious felonies. Colleagues were able to suspend them – but they still got paid. This just stops their paychecks. Not a solution to corruption. Not always fair (there is such a thing as due process, even for someone accused of a serious crime). It’s kind of a feel-good measure that will have no real impact on the serious problem of pay-to-play politics in Sacramento. But good-government types like the League of Women Voters are supporting it, and we see no reason not to go along.
Regional wetlands tax
This measure ties an urgent cause, the restoration and protection of the San Francisco Bay’s wetlands, to a dangerous policy, a regional tax levied by appointed officials. It also starts to expand regional government in the Bay Area – before anyone has had a chance to discuss what that ought to look like.
Long before sea level rise was recognized as a threat, environmental groups were working to save The Bay’s shrinking tidal marshes. The wetlands cleanse and retain the Bay’s waters, help prevent flooding, and provide habitat for wild plants and creatures. Climate change has made their value even more apparent. To borrow the Sierra Club’s apt phrase, tidal marshes offer “a natural and growing levee” that slows storm surges and lowers the height of waves and encroaching waters.
And the Bay wetlands are in dire need of help. A regional approach makes sense; everyone in the nine Bay Area counties has a stake in the wetlands’ health. Measure AA would raise $500 million over 20 years for projects that reduce trash and pollution, restore wildlife habitat, improve water quality, and more.
But the measure has problems. While an annual $12 parcel tax seems like a small price to pay for ensuring the wetlands’ health, it’s unfair: Google and other corporations whose big new campuses are threatened by rising water would pay the same $12 as individual homeowners. A tax on the assessed value of property would be much more equitable.
And Measure AA has a much bigger problem.
The tax would be levied and administered by the San Francisco Bay Authority, a public agency created by the California Legislature. The Authority is governed by a five-member board of appointees who are chosen by yet another appointee, the president of the Association of Bay Area Governments, which is itself on the verge of a hostile takeover by an autocratic state agency, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
So who would decide how to spend the money? Nobody who was elected to that job. Whom do you complain to if you think the decisions are wrong? Good luck with that; SF’s current representative is Scott Wiener, and it’s entirely possible in the future that nobody ever elected by a San Francisco voter (and thus not accountable to any of us) will be doling out our tax dollars.
Measure AA also furthers the creeping privatization of government, stating that “[t]he Authority shall give priority to projects that,” among other things, “[m]eet the selection criteria” of the Coastal Conservancy, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, and San Francisco Bay Joint Venture.
San Francisco Bay Joint Venture is a public-private entity whose members include the Bay Planning Coalition, a private organization that last year backed MTC’s efforts to remove key anti-displacement policy from the forthcoming update of our region’s official land use and transportation blueprint, Plan Bay Area.
The measure’s supporters note that it would be the first regional tax in the Bay Area. If it passes, it would set an somewhat disturbing precedent at a time when local business and political elites are clamoring for the expansion of regional government– without any discussion of how that government should be run.
We’d gladly support an equitable proposal to restore and protect the Bay wetlands that mandated democratically accountable governance. We’d also gladly welcome a much larger discussion of how regional government should work – how much power it should have, and how the people who wield that power should be chosen.
Regional government may very well be part of the Bay Area’s future, and there are good arguments in favor of it (should someone be able to tell Cupertino not to approve a huge new Apple headquarters without providing any housing at all)? But it involves really complex issues of local land-use authority, local spending authority, and how the members of a regional agency are chosen.
We’re already worried about how the regional bodies, the Association of Bay Area Government and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, operate with little oversight (which means, in the end, in the interest of developers, not the public). Measure AA takes us a long way further down a path that we haven’t even begun to map.
Paying taxes for wetlands restoration is a fine idea. We can even live with the unfair parcel tax. But first let’s decide who ought to handle the money. Vote No on AA
San Francisco ballot measures
Public Health and Safety Bonds
This is a $350 million bond act to improve seismic safety at critical facilities like SF General and the city’s ambulance deployment facility. There’s $20 million (nowhere near enough) for homeless shelters and other related programs.
There’s no reason to oppose this. We wish the mayor would put more effort into raising money for housing and back off from his pledge never to put new bonds on the ballot until old ones are paid off (which amounts to a “no new taxes” position.
But sure, vote Yes on A
Recreation, Park, and Open Space Fund
No. Seriously, No
It’s hard to oppose something that sounds like more money for parks and open space, which we all love. But Prop. B doesn’t bring in a single penny in revenue; it’s another in a long string of “set-asides,” which would guarantee a percentage of the city budget for one particular department.
We’re dubious about set-asides anyway — we supported the Children’s Fund, which is a set-aside for programs for people who can’t vote, but at a certain point, all this does is tie the hands of the supervisors during budget season. Parks are important; are they more important than housing, homeless services, or public health? Is it more important to have money for open space than for critical psych emergency beds at SF General?
Those aren’t easy questions, and there are reasons that the supes and the mayor, with public input, vote on a budget that balances lots of needs. So this thing starts off with a high threshold to get our support.
Now let’s look at where the money would go.
We’re big supporters of parks, recreation, and open space – but we are not fans of the current management of the Rec Park Department. General Manager Phil Ginsburg seems to think that privatization and “monetizing” the parks is a great idea, and we don’t. He kicked the venerable nonprofit Haight Asbury Recycling Center out of a tiny corner of Golden Gate Park because rich neighbors didn’t want to see poor people coming by with empty bottles. It took a ballot measure to keep him from turning Coit Tower into a corporate party center.
We can’t support the current direction of the department. We can’t support this set-aside. It’s a bad idea on every level. Vote no. Seriously – vote no.
Affordable Housing Requirements
YES, YES, YES
The most important part of Prop. C is not the numbers. The measure would increase to 25 percent the amount of affordable housing required in many private projects – but it would also take that number out of the City Charter and allow the supes to change it by ordinance.
The developers demanded, as part of the deal for their support of the mayor’s affordable housing trust fund a couple of years ago, that the city limit – in the charter, the city’s Constitution – the amount of affordable housing that city officials could demand. That number was set at 12 percent.
It was a mistake: Not only is that number way too low, but it’s inflexible, and the housing situation in San Francisco changes all the time.
Developers have testified at public hearings that 25 percent is too high, that the numbers don’t add up. That’s something that ought to be discussed – and the developers should come forward with the figures to prove their case. But the city’s own studies show that market-rate housing creates a demand for low-income housing, since all the rich people who move into the new luxury condos need people to serve their coffee and clean their homes. If the affordability level is below 30 percent, the city actually loses ground. So if the developers of luxury housing can’t meet reasonable levels, then their projects don’t make sense for anyone.
Prop. C is a critical part of the progressive housing agenda, pitting Sups. Jane Kim and Aaron Peskin against the mayor and the developers. By all means, vote Yes.
Investigations of Officer-Involved Shootings
San Francisco has an unusual procedure for investigating police misconduct. In most places, the cops investigate themselves. In this city, thanks to legislation by former Sup. Harry Britt in the early 1980s, an independent civilian agency takes complaints.
It’s not a perfect system, since the mayor appoints the head of the Office of Citizen Complaints, and the agency is often limited by the lack of aggressive leadership. But it’s better than the alternative, and has tremendous potential.
Right now, the OCC only acts on complaints; if nobody files one, the agency can’t do anything. Sup. Malia Cohen has put forward this measure, which would mandate civilian review of all office-involved shootings.
In practice, it might not make much difference – somebody almost always files a complaint about police shootings. But it would enshrine in policy the idea that an outside civilian agency should always investigate when the cops shoot someone.
Vote Yes, and hope that the Police Commission and future mayors appoint stronger independent leadership at the OCC.
Paid Sick Leave
The language of this measure is pretty complicated, but the bottom line is simple: Prop. E would make the city’s sick-leave law consistent with state law, without in any way limiting or reducing the benefits that San Franciscans get. There’s no opposition. Vote yes.
San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee
The race for Democratic County Central Committee, often a second thought on the June ballot, is now a big deal, a proxy for the defining struggle to save what’s left of San Francisco from corporate power and real-estate greed.
The DCCC sets policy for the local party. A lot of times that means passing resolutions that don’t have immediate policy impacts. In the best of times, it means registering voters, building a more progressive party structure.
But right now, what’s at stake is the party’s endorsement in the November supervisorial races. Control of the city is up for grabs – the six seats on the board that are on the ballot will determine whether the mayor and the tech moguls can dominate city politics for the next two years, or whether the rest of us have a fighting chance.
There are, to be blunt, two sides in this race. We know that some candidates want to appeal to everyone, to say they are “independent” or “moderate” or somewhere in the middle of the battleground.
But at a time of crisis – and anyone who thinks this city isn’t in crisis isn’t paying attention – there is, for better or for worse, no room in the middle. Either you are on the side of the evictors, the developers, the landlords, Airbnb, and the one percent – or you think that it’s unacceptable for the chair of the Democratic Party of San Francisco to be a lobbyist for the Board of Realtors.
So there are, in essence, two slates for the DCCC. One is made up of the supporters of Mary Jung, the landlord lobbyist who is the current chair. The other includes people who have promised two things: They will vote to replace Jung with a progressive (Sup. David Campos is our first choice) – and they will support the progressive candidates for supervisor this fall. The candidates on the Reform Slate have vowed that they will not back the candidates of the mayor, Ron Conway, and the power structure under any circumstances.
There are people on the Reform Slate who might not be our first choices. Bevan Dufty was the supervisor who swung to vote to put Mayor Lee in office, and the city has been terribly damaged by that decision. But he has seen that damage first-hand as the city’s homeless coordinator, and is now standing with the left in this race. We were not always in agreement with Sophie Maxwell when she was on the board.
And there’s a strange twist – after the progressives spent months finding a broad-based diverse slate, John Burton, the former state Senate president and chair of the state Party, decided to run. That might be good news if he is part of the progressive slate, since he will almost certainly win, and Burton has been a liberal legend in Sacramento, but on local issues he has a much more mixed record.
This race is so important that both sides have scrambled to get high-profile candidates. Name recognition is critical when the voters look at choosing 14 people on the East Side and 10 on the West Side, and nine of the 11 members of the Board of Supes have filed to run. Two School Board members are on the ballot, and one Community College Board member.
Angela Alioto, former supe and daughter of a mayor, is running. Tom Hsieh, Sr., who was one of the most conservative people to serve on the Board of Supes in the past 30 years, is on the ballot.
There are arguments for lots of different candidates, but in the end, this is a classic battle of Us Against Them. (Alito, for example, was a strong supporter of public power and defied PG&E on the Board of Supes, and we would love to support her – but she’s endorsing some of the pro-real-estate supervisor candidates and is allied with the real-estate slate. She may agree with us on some issues, but she’s missing the larger politics of Ed Lee’s city, where there is no middle ground.)
The Reform Slate will kick the Board of Realtors out of the chair of the Democratic Party and ensure that the DCCC helps progressives win in the fall. The Real Estate Slate will keep things the way they are – which is, frankly, unacceptable.
So here are the Bay Guardian endorsements. Everyone on this slate has promised to replace Jung as chair and to support the progressives for supervisor. We expect that most of the progressive groups in town will be offering a similar slate. It’s our best hope for the first round in the next fight for the soul of the city.
17th Assembly District (East Side)
Leroy Wade Woods
19th Assembly District (West Side)
There are 10 seats up in this part of town. So far, only seven have met our criteria. If others decide to commit to supporting the Reform agenda, we will add them in for our final endorsements in late May, before the absentee ballots drop.
Sandra Lee Fewer
How to vote
A simplified guide to the June 7 ballot
The June primary ballot is a bit confusing, so we’re going to try to clear up what
your choices are and how to be sure you get to vote in the races that matter to you.
First of all, everyone who is registered to vote gets to vote in the primaries for US
Senate, US Congress, and state Legislature, and in the SF judicial race.
In the unlikely event that you want to vote in the Republican presidential primary,
you have to be a registered Republican, and good luck with your party, which is
imploding as we watch.
If you want to vote in the Democratic presidential primary, you have to be either a
registered Democrat or a No Party Preference voter. According to the SF Elections
Director John Arntz: “When voting by mail, NPP voters must request a party ballot
be mailed to them. If the NPP voters do not request a party ballot, the Department
will mail ‘NPP’ ballots which will not list any candidates for president.”
There are lots of NPPs, who used to be known as Decline to State. Democrats
allow those voters into the party’s presidential primary; Republicans don’t.
If you want to vote for Democratic County Central Committee, YOU MUST BE A
REGISTERED DEMOCRAT. Voters with No Party Preference don’t get a ballot
If you want to vote for DCCC and are not registered as a Democrat, you have to re-
register by May 23. You can go down to City Hall and do it at the Department of
Elections, or online at registertovote.ca.gov.
If you’re not sure what your registration status is, please don’t wait until Election
Day; double check it now. It’s easy; just go here. Takes two minutes.
If you can’t follow this and need more help, go to www.sfelections.org, where you can
find an easy-to- follow flowchart.
Early voting at City Hall opens May 9. You can contact the Department of
Elections at 415-554- 4375.