Greetings political nerds! Remember those happy bygone days when the voter information handbook was nearly as thick as a phone book? More recently, some of us may have come to fear that this not-so-new era of comity and consensus at City Hall would mean the end forever of San Francisco’s propensity for ballot box legislating. Well, friends, fear not! Chris Daly and Aaron Peskin may have long since left the building, but the allure of the ballot measure as a vehicle by which to move an agenda, settle scores or simply get some attention apparently endures under the dome.
By my count, there look to be in the neighborhood of a dozen local measures coming at the voters this fall, and that’s not even counting the various State propositions we will get to puzzle over. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, our own Supervisor Scott Wiener has his fingerprints on a couple of the more high profile and contentious items. One we have known about for a while is the sugary beverage tax, which appears likely to garner majority support but will need a two-thirds vote to pass and goes on the ballot without the support of four of eleven supervisors (Breed, Kim, Tang and Yee) or the mayor. The other is a budget set-aside for Muni that is expected to generate an additional $22 million a year for Muni operations, with additional funding tied to population growth. The measure is strongly supported by transit advocates, but has managed to unite frequent antagonists Ed Lee and John Avalos in opposition to what both see as an irresponsible and unjustified end run around the annual budget process.
The fall’s supervisor races are shaping up to be a bit of a snoozefest, however, with District 10’s Malia Cohen the only incumbent facing more than token opposition. Challenger Tony Kelly, who lost to Cohen in an IRV-runoff in 2010, believes this is the year and he’s the guy to unseat an incumbent he argues is out of step with the District. So far, Kelly has won endorsements from the Potrero Hill Democratic Club, SF Rising, the Sierra Club, Tom Ammiano, David Campos, John Avalos and Art Agnos.
The race for School Board, where three seats are up this fall, is drawing some strong contenders. I have been very impressed with Stevon Cook, a native San Franciscan who attended public schools here before earning admission to Williams College and now works as coordinator of the Post-Secondary Success Program at the San Francisco Education Fund. Stevon has shown himself to be a tireless campaigner and an impressive fundraiser. Out queers Mark Murphy and Jamie Wolfe have thrown their hats in the ring as well, a welcome development as the Board has been without an LGBT member since Mark Sanchez left in 2010. Executive Director of a workforce development agency in the Bayview, Shamann Walton is also running a strong campaign and looks to have a good shot.
This year, as City College’s very survival hangs in the balance, this is a race that deserves the voters’ close attention. Thea Selby, a pragmatic progressive who ran a solidly respectable campaign for District 5 Supervisor in 2012, is in and looks to be a strong candidate. So too does District 11 Democrats President and San Francisco State Professor Brigitte Davila. My friend Wendy Aragon has thrown her hat in the ring, and queer activist Dan Choi looks likely to join the race as well. Amy Bacharach, who nearly won in 2012, is thinking about another run, as, I am told, are several other potential last minute additions to the field. More updates to come in the months ahead.
Speaking of City College…the Harvey Milk Club annual dinner is coming up Thursday, August 7th, and I am incredibly gratified that the Club has chosen to show its love for City College by throwing its biggest party of the year at the College’s beautiful Mission Campus and honoring a slate of City College “champions” comprised of Congresswoman Jackie Speier, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, Student Trustee Shanell Williams, former AFT 2121 President Alisa Messer and myself. The keynote speaker will be the formerly incarcerated transgender civil rights hero CeCe McDonald. It is going to be a fantastic night, and I hope to see every last one of you there.