Olague faces her challengers during first D5 debate

Sup. Christine Olague is seeking election to the D5 seat Mayor Lee appointed her to in January.
SF Newspaper Co.

Tonight's inaugural District 5 supervisorial debate will be a key test for Sup. Christina Olague – who has fallen from favor with many progressives after a series of bad votes and prickly or evasive interactions with one-time allies – and a test for the rival candidates who are seeking to become the main progressive champion in one of the city's most leftist districts.

The elected incumbents on the Board of Supervisors have ended up with surprisingly easy paths to reelection [8/9 UPDATE: with the exception of Eric Mar in D1], leaving D5 – as well as conservative District 7, where FX Crowley, Norman Yee, and Michael Garcia are part of a competitive field seeking to replace termed out Sup. Sean Elsbernd – as the race to watch this year.

Olague has been trying to execute a tough balancing act between the progressive community that she's long identified with and the moderates she began courting last year with her early support for Mayor Ed Lee, who returned the favor and appointed her to serve the final year of Ross Mirkarimi's D5 term. But by most accounts, she hasn't executed the feat well, usually siding with Lee on key votes, but doing so in a waffling way that has frustrated both sides.

Progressive candidates such as Julian Davis and John Rizzo will have plenty of fodder with which to attack Olague as a turncoat, including her votes on the 8 Washington project and Michael Antonini, her strange antics on repealing ranked-choice voting, and her close ties to power brokers such as Rose Pak, who hosted a fundraiser that provided more than half of the $81,333 Olague has raised this year, much of it from developers and other interests outside of D5.

Matt Gonzalez – the former D5 supervisor, board president (from where he appointed Olague to the Planning Commission), and mayoral candidate – was so frustrated with Olague that he withdrew his endorsement of her last month, a decision that her other progressive endorsers are also said to be mulling.

With Mirkarimi tarnished by his ongoing official misconduct probe, the endorsement of Gonzalez could be the most significant in this race, and he told us that he plans to make a decision by Friday, the deadline for submission of ballot statements and a point at which we may hear about other changed or dual endorsements from prominent progressives. Other key nods in the race so far have been Aaron Peskin endorsing Davis and Tom Ammiano endorsing Rizzo, two candidates each vying to become the favorite of the left, with Thea Selby, Hope Johnson, and Andrew Resignato also courting support from the left.

Yet so far, the strongest challenge of Olague seems to be coming from her right, with moderate London Breed leading the fundraising battle with $85,461 as of late June 30, including the maximum $500 donation from venture capitalist Ron Conway – the main fundraiser behind Lee's election last year – which may be a sign that Olague's support among moderates is also soft.

Olague may be trying to get back in good with the progressives, last week introducing pro-tenant legislation sought by the San Francisco Tenants Union. But impressions have formed and the pressure is now on, and so far Olague – who didn't answer our calls seeking comment, another troubling trend – hasn't performed well in public appearances, mangling organizations' names and generally not winning over her audiences.

Will Olague step up now that the campaign in entering its public phase? Will another candidate catch fire with progressives? Find out tonight from 6-7:30pm at the Park Branch Library, 1833 Page Street. It's sponsored by the District 5 Democratic Club, the D5 Neighborhood Action Committee and the Wigg Party.

Or if you miss it, catch the next one on Tuesday, sponsored by the Harvey Milk Democratic Club, starting at 7pm in the Eric Quezada Center, 518 Valencia Street.


Politicians, particularly progressive politicians, should be accessible and accountable to the public. Unwillingness to answer questions posed on behalf of Guardian readers is insulting and unacceptable. It isn't how she answers, or a matter of kissing our ass, it's about explaining her positions and engaging a dialogue. 

Posted by steven on Aug. 10, 2012 @ 10:27 am

that rep needs to respond to all 10,0000? They'd never get anything else done.

If the NYTimes calls, I bet they answer. But the Supes know that only about 20 people read the SFBG, which can therefore be safely ignored.

Posted by lillipublicans© on Aug. 10, 2012 @ 11:09 am

number of pages or the fact that you sold your building to developers and merged with another paper which you spent years criticizing - thus making a mockery of everything for which you all claimed to stand for decades?

She's be justified in cutting you off completely since you've made clear, Steven, that she's been a big disappointment and you've been talking up her challengers relentlessly.

In much the same way Obama would be justified in freezing out FOX News so too is it entirely unsurprising that Olague has chosen to ignore the Guardian. The major difference being, of course, that FOX News reaches lots more people and isn't having a problem sustaining itself financially like The Guardian.

Posted by Troll II on Aug. 10, 2012 @ 3:41 pm

London Breed is a conservative who supports corrupt hacks such as Willie Brown, Mohammed Nuru and "Reverend" Amos Brown!

To call her "moderate" is completely idiotic!

Posted by Guest on Aug. 13, 2012 @ 8:37 am

Moderates are the majority in this city and in most districts - that's why Brown, Newsom and Lee won so easily.

We don't want extremist here, either left or right.

Posted by lillipublicans© on Aug. 13, 2012 @ 8:55 am

-- or won it at all for that matter -- was in 2007 when Newsom was basically running unopposed.

Silly asshat.

lillipublicans©, often impostered, less frequently equaled.

Posted by lillipublicans© on Aug. 13, 2012 @ 10:08 am

Voters in D5 or, for that matter, any other district know that they are not just voting for someone to make decisions about D5. In fact, Olague helps decide city-wide issues and that is what takes most of her time.

So people may vote for someone who they most think will be able to influence and persuade the other ten perps, who get to vote on D5 matters too. And that usually means an independent consensus rep and not a far-left ideolog.

Posted by lillipublicans© on Aug. 13, 2012 @ 10:58 am

It is so obvious that you are an intellectual weakling.

Zeroes such as yourself seem to thrive peddling your halfwit nonsense in anonymous fora such as this one, but in a more personal setting or as a member of a close-knit society, you'd meet an ugly end after being caught commiting some unforgivable crime against society; such as befouling the drinking well.

I'm envisioning your banishment and subsequent being preyed on by wild animals. Nobody would grieve.

lillipublicans©, often impostered, less frequently equaled.

Posted by lillipublicans© on Aug. 13, 2012 @ 5:58 pm