Women's Slate 2016, Changing of the Guard at the Clubs, LGBT Center Remodel and Impasse at City College

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With Sandra Lee Fewer filing for the District 1 Supervisor seat on January 14 and Hillary Ronen officially kicking off her campaign for the District 9 Supervisor seat on the same day, following Kimberly Alvarenga filing for District 11 Supervisor last month, the 2016 progressive women’s slate many of us had been hoping for has, in fact, emerged. Interestingly, after a long absence of mothers from the Board of Supervisors, all three women also happen to be moms.

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With Sandra Lee Fewer filing for the District 1 Supervisor seat on January 14 and Hillary Ronen officially kicking off her campaign for the District 9 Supervisor seat on the same day, following Kimberly Alvarenga filing for District 11 Supervisor last month, the 2016 progressive women’s slate many of us had been hoping for has, in fact, emerged. Interestingly, after a long absence of mothers from the Board of Supervisors, all three women also happen to be moms.

The luminaries showing up for Fewer’s noontime filing at City Hall included Assemblyman Phil Ting, current District 1 Supervisor Eric Mar along with his Board colleagues John Avalos, David Campos, Aaron Peskin and Norman Yee, plus School Board members Matt Haney, Rachel Norton and Shamann Walton. Fewer, a fourth generation Chinese American, was first elected to the School Board in 2008 and has also served on San Francisco’s Democratic County Central Committee. The conventional wisdom is that with her high name recognition and proven strengths as a campaigner, she immediately becomes the frontrunner in the race.

Ronen’s kickoff event later that afternoon outside St. Luke’s was awesome, with huge turnout and an equally impressive list of elected officials and labor and community leaders. The chosen site highlighted Ronen’s successful efforts working with her boss, current Supervisor David Campos, to save the hospital that has been repeatedly threatened with closure or downsizing, but is a vital medical resource in a part of the City that is underserved by hospitals. Although both Fewer and Ronen will face well-funded challengers in November, they are strongly positioned to win.

Alvarenga, who kicked off her campaign in December, probably faces the most formidable opponent of the three. Ahsha Safai has run for the job before, against John Avalos in 2008. In that campaign, Safai drew significant support from realtor and developer interests, as well as anti-rent-control activist Thomas Coates. He starts the race with higher name recognition and, with backers like those, will not lack for campaign cash. But Kimberly is off to a strong start, working the phones for campaign contributions and making the rounds of District 11 community events. The Harvey Milk Club will be voting on an early endorsement of Alvarenga, who would be the Board’s first elected lesbian member in more than 15 years, at its February general membership meeting.

Congratulations (or condolences) to Peter Gallotta, who will serve a second term as Milk Club president during the 2016 year. With co-president Laura Thomas (stepping down this year after two years at the helm), Gallotta guided the club through the challenges of 2015, which included bitter and heated internal divisions around the club’s position on Ross Mirkarimi’s campaign for re-election as sheriff. The club survived, and from what I could tell based on the turnout for the January 19 organizational meeting, it’s stronger than ever, with a crew of talented and committed young, and older, activists ready to raise hell and save our city.

!Groups like Alice and Milk are finding themselves looking for alternative locations for their monthly meetingwhile the LGBT Center undertakes a full-scale renovation that will triple the amount of affordable non-profit office space in the building and add primary medical care, mental health, substance abuse and legal services to the Center’s existing programs. The Center remains open by appointment and will continue to offer its programs and services over the next year, but the meeting spaces will not be open again until late this year at the earliest.

Meanwhile over at City College, the teachers’ union has announced that it believes the parties have reached an impasse in contract negotiations. The union will be asking the State Public Employee Relations Board to send in an outside mediator to try to bring the parties together. Nearly a year into negotiations, the teachers have been working without a contract for months, and after eight years without a raise, they are seeking significant salary increases. The problem for the College is that during that time enrollment has taken a dive and the College is facing the consequent loss of tens of millions of dollars during the term of the contract. Let’s hope we get a good mediator.

Rafael Mandelman is an attorney for the City of Oakland. He is also President of the City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees.

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