- PDF of our print voter guide - print it and bring it to the polls!
- Jump to our voting cheat sheet. See below for all of our research and analysis.
10/7: Early voting has started at City Hall, 8am-5pm, Mon-Fri.
10/21: Deadline to register to vote at registertovote.ca.gov
10/26-27 and 11/2-3: Weekend voting in City Hall! 10am-4pm.
11/2-5 Early voting starts at SFSU Towers Conference Center, 10am-4pm weekends, 8am-5pm weekdays.
11/5: Election Day! Polls open 7am-8pm. If you’re in line by 8 you can vote!
Where’s your polling place? See YourFuckingPollingPlace.com, call 311, or just go vote at City Hall.
Non-citizens Can Vote on Board of Education! Parents/caregivers of school-age children can vote.
Don’t have an address? You can vote! If you don’t have a fixed address, you can register using cross streets.
Former Felons Can Vote! Even if you've been convicted of a felony, you can vote as long as you’re off parole. Don’t let the Man disenfranchise you!
Slackers Can Vote: Election Day Voter Registration! Missed the 10/21 deadline to register to vote? Head directly to City Hall—DO NOT PASS GO—to register and vote right up through Election Day! From November 2-5, you can also register and vote at SFSU Towers Conference Center. Now get out there and make us proud.
Youth Can Vote! If you’re 16 or 17, pre-register and your registration will be activated automatically when you turn 18.
San Francisco is expanding the number of options on our ranked-choice ballots this year. We can rank up to TEN candidates! The Department of Elections has a nifty online practice ballot to help folks figure it out.
Attack of the Appointed Incumbents!
City & County Offices
- Mayor: No Endorsement
- Board of Supervisors, District 5: Dean Preston
- City Attorney: Dennis Herrera
- District Attorney: Chesa Boudin
- Public Defender: Manohar Raju
- Sheriff: No Endorsement
- Treasurer: No Endorsement
- Board of Education: No Endorsement
- Community College Board: Ivy Lee
City & County Propositions
- Prop A: $600M Affordable Housing Bond: YES
- Prop B: Representation for Disabled and Aging Adults: YES
- Prop C: Let Juul Write Vape Law “For The Children”: HELL FUCKING NO
- Prop D: Teeny Tiny Traffic Tax on Lyft and Uber: YES
- Prop E: Finally! Affordable Housing For Teachers and Families: YES
- Prop F: Sunlight on Dark Money: YES
Like our voter guide?
Housing and Criminal Justice Reform in a Low Turnout Election
Amid the onslaught of mayor-appointed or long-time incumbents running to keep their jobs, we can safely say this election is all about Housing and Criminal Justice Reform.
Housing is where progressive solutions are most necessary in San Francisco. Broad coalitions put two housing measures on the ballot and we have a tenant champion running in District 5. Yes on Prop A! Yes on Prop E! Dean Preston for Supervisor!
Across the country, communities are rallying for real Criminal Justice Reform, and we have the opportunity to elect two radical attorneys at the forefront of the Racial Justice and Immigrant Justice movements. Chesa Boudin for District Attorney! Mano Raju for Public Defender! No Endorsement for Sheriff!
November 2019 is projected to be another low turnout (maybe 40%) San Francisco municipal election, which means incumbent Mayor Breed will easily coast to victory with token opposition.
Mayor Breed is presiding over the rapid depletion of rental housing stock, with gentrification getting so bad that even the millionaires are getting evicted by the billionaires (oh the poor millionaires!).
Housing is an issue that affects every San Franciscan, which is why it’s so frustrating that nobody is running against incumbent London Breed while she presides over this unprecedented crisis. So why is nobody running for Mayor?
Municipal Elections In Off Years
We think it’s time for San Francisco to get rid of Municipal Elections in off-years (2019, 2015, 2011, 2007) and move Mayor, District Attorney, Treasurer and Sheriff over to presidential election years if we have any hope of fielding progressive champions for these seats.
|Entrenched Incumbent + Low Turnout = No Chance in Hell for Progressives|
Nobody wants to burn their political career on that funeral pyre. In this town, politicians end their careers by running unsuccessfully for Mayor- that’s the 👻 Curse of San Francisco Municipal Elections 👻, and the only way we can overcome the curse is by shifting election years so that they are synced up with presidential elections.
The theory behind having our local elections in odd years is that it would allow voters to focus on City and County races without being distracted by the fight for the White House. But over and over again, it’s meant lower turnout for the Mayor--which means an older, whiter, more conservative slice of the City picks our Mayor. Progressive turnouts above 80% for these key offices could help San Francisco shake these moderate incumbent blues with some revolutionary reds.
Why so many “No Endorsements”?
It’s weird and sad that in hyper-politically-active San Francisco, 7 of 9 offices have candidates running either unopposed or with no viable challengers. League members voted “No Endorsement” for Mayor, School Board, Treasurer and Sheriff.
Instead of giving these unopposed candidates an undeserved mandate to continue policies that we oppose, we can use this opportunity to remind our public officials that they aren’t entitled to our support by leaving it blank.
City & County Offices
Mayor: Leave it Blank :/
We wish we could tell you more about where the Mayor stands on our top issues, but she declined to respond to our questionnaire. Breed repeatedly avoids taking positions on important-but-politically-tricky issues or changes her mind.
- Anti-Speculation Tax (Prop G, Nov 2014): Breed never took a position. It lost 46% to 54%.
- Right to Counsel for Tenants Facing Eviction (Prop F, June 2018): Breed first tried to undermine Prop F by offering a watered down alternative ordinance, then she stayed neutral on Prop F after tenant advocates rejected her alternative, before finally supporting it and trying to take credit for it.
- Mandatory Tasers Policy (Prop H, June 2018): Breed’s position on tasers waffled while she was Supervisor. She started out neutral on Prop H, then told us and the Green Party she supported it, before finally opposing it after virtually every other leader in the City already opposed it.
- Our City Our Home (Prop C, Nov 2018 business tax to address homelessness and mental health): Breed refused to meet with the authors of Prop C. She then stayed on the sidelines for months claiming she was “studying it,” before finally siding with big business and dubiously claiming Prop C would harm the economy.
- Josephine Zhao: Breed endorsed Zhao for School Board and stood by her after Zhao’s awful transphobic comments came to light and she gaslit the whole City about if she was sorry or if she was dropping out. After Zhao dropped out, Breed offered some sorry excuses for her lack of leadership in calling out her hate speech.
Breed clearly wants to take credit if something is popular or succeeds, and we should give her credit for things we like that she’s done:
- She’s made some solid appointments: Ivy Lee for Community College Board and Manohar Raju for Public Defender!
- She pushed hard to build the Embarcadero navigation center against awful opposition from a bunch of entitled neighbors.
- She’s ending the exploitation of people in jail through messed-up markups on items in the jail store and charging for phone calls.
- She sped up the application process for Accessory Dwelling Units (known as “in-law units” or “granny flats”) that helped build these new rent controlled units in existing buildings. She also waived the fees for the units to make them more feasible to build.
- She had a mixed record on pedestrian and bicycle safety as a Supervisor, but we give her credit for pushing the MTA to move faster and go further on protected bike lanes and traffic safety.
But Breed has also done a ton of things that piss us off:
- Failing to act on repeated reports of homeless people’s possessions being stolen or destroyed by DPW. (Check out the powerful stories on this at stolenbelonging.org)
- Attempting to convert permanent housing for the severely mentally ill into temporary shelter--all part of her focus on trying to sweep homelessness under the rug instead of addressing the root causes and creating real solutions
- Sacking one of the most respected members of the Rent Board for an inexperienced appointee who resigned under protest from tenant advocates.
- Pushing back on the Homelessness Commission proposal from Supervisor Matt Haney that would bring more oversight to the City’s programs that address homelessness--even though one of her main reasons for opposing Our City Our Home was literally a lack of “adequate oversight.” (Side note: what’s up with the Mayor deleting her statement opposing Our City Our Home? Isn’t that a violation of the Sunshine ordinance?)
- Pushing back on Mental Health SF, the groundbreaking proposal to provide free mental health services to all San Franciscans.
San Francisco desperately needs a leader who can seriously address inequality, displacement, and corruption. Sadly, since we don’t have a legit progressive option this time around, our best advice is to leave this part of your ballot blank and send a message that the status quo is not working.
What About the Other Candidates for Mayor?
When the League evaluates long-shot candidates, we have some informal criteria we consider:
- Do they share our values?
- How hard is the candidate working? If they aren’t hustling as hard as we are on this election, do they deserve our endorsement?
- How much trust do we have them? If we give them our endorsement, do we need to worry about them doing something wacky or stupid that will embarrass us?
Unfortunately, none of the candidates for Mayor earned a majority vote from our members, but here’s a little about them:
Joel Ventresca is a retired administrative analyst with SFO who unsuccessfully ran for Mayor, Treasurer and citywide Supervisor in the 1990s, and previously served on the boards of SF Tomorrow and Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council, and on the Commission on the Environment. His responses to our questionnaire show he generally shares our values, but he doesn’t have a website or any campaign that we can tell, and some of his answers suggest he isn’t up on the latest developments on issues like land use and housing.
Ellen Lee Zhou is the other candidate who answered our questionnaire. She’s a public health worker who ran for mayor last June and picked up less than 4% of first-place votes before being eliminated by the city’s ranked-choice voting system. Her platform includes “restoring a Republican form of government.” Yikes. She recently spoke at a rally convened by right-wing demonstrators to denounce perceived censorship of politically conservative views by social media companies, and she’s promoting gun ownership to combat crime. That’s gonna be a NOPE from us.
Paul Ybarra Robertson didn’t answer our questionnaire but does have a website. Fixing Muni and banning cars on Market Street sounds good to us, but no *buses* on Market? “Fixing” traffic by prioritizing private cars and on-street parking? And opposing navigation center-style homeless shelters? Next!
Wilma Pang is a professional singer and music educator who ran unsuccessfully for various offices in the past, including multiple runs for Mayor and the District Three Supervisorial seat. Her central issue as a candidate, she said, is enhancing cultural tourism in San Francisco.
Jean-David Hsu filed to run as an independent right before the filing deadline with a “full focus” on cleaning up the Tenderloin.
Robert Jordan, a street minister, rounds out the list of long-shot mayoral candidates. He filed just before the 5 p.m. deadline and said he was “a hard worker with no ego. I think this is my year.” Maybe, maybe not.
Board of Supervisors, District 5: Dean Preston
District 5 has a history of progressive politics, iconic music and culture, and also devastating gentrification and displacement (from the 40’s to the 70’s Japantown, the Fillmore, and Western Addition were bulldozed in the name of “urban renewal”). While this oddly-shaped district in the center of the city was once home to the activists that brought us the Freeway Revolt, in more recent years it’s seen increases in youth homelessness and retail vacancies. The former Yoshi’s site on Fillmore remains vacant, and residents of the Midtown Park Apartments are still fighting for the homeownership the city promised them decades ago. Pledges and promises have been made to district residents for years and voters are ready for a new approach. Luckily, they have a chance to elect a progressive superhero this November!
Dean Preston will fight for visionary, structural changes to reverse soaring inequality: a Green New Deal for San Francisco to replace investor-controlled utilities with clean public power, free preschool for all families, and a San Francisco Public Bank that can divest the City’s dollars from Wall Street megabanks and invest them in the community to build affordable housing and provide low-cost loans for first-time homeowners and small businesses. Dean is a Bernie-style Democratic Socialist, public school parent, and daily Muni rider who will fight for the investments our public services need.
Best of all, he has spent decades throwing down for tenants. He founded Tenants Together and authored 2018’s Prop F, which guarantees free legal representation to all San Franciscans facing eviction. We’ve never had a tenant lawyer on the Board of Supervisors! And we haven’t had a Democratic Socialist as Supervisor since Harry Britt left office in 1992. Dean’s also a labor ally who won the endorsement of the radical ILWU by standing with unionizing Anchor Brewery workers and striking VCA workers, and has the backing of both the city’s educator unions, UESF and AFT 2121. Those are big reasons why a lot of us are excited about Dean and working hard to elect him. We know he’ll be accountable to tenant advocates and stay true to our values when he’s in office.
Dean is a longtime League ally and we’re excited to get this progressive champion on the Board! Vote Dean Preston for District 5 Supervisor!
Vallie Brown is the current District 5 Supervisor, picked by Mayor Breed to take her spot on the Board when she was elected Mayor. People who’ve known and worked with Vallie since she started in City Hall as a legislative aide for Supervisor Mirkarimi know her as someone who got involved to help her local community and who rolls her eyes at the petty games of SF local politics.
Without that backstory though, you’d know her as London Breed’s appointed successor who is likely to enable Breed’s business-friendly, homeless-harassing policies that are way out of line with District 5’s values. Brown’s campaign messaging relies heavily on her community organizing and accomplishments from when she was a legislative aide, but some of that is old news and her time as Supervisor hasn’t been as impressive (she talks about ending violence in the Haight “years ago” but at least 10 people have been shot in D5 in 2019 already).
Like everywhere else in this town, homelessness is a big deal in D5. Notably, when challenged on the lack of a Navigation Center in the district, Brown said to give her a full year in office (even though other Supervisors haven’t needed nearly that long). That year passed months ago, and district leaders tell us they’ve been waiting far longer for Brown to prioritize services for homeless constituents.
Brown’s fundraising shows she’s the clear choice of the realtors, landlords, and developers who want to get rich off of this housing crisis and are terrified of Dean Preston on the Board. While Vallie offered some thoughtful amendments to Scott Weiner’s SB50 (see page 5 of her response to our questionnaire), and she has bucked Breed on some important issues, we’re concerned about how much of her financial backing is coming from the realtors and developers who put profits over people in the housing wars.
We have to change the dynamics at the Board of Supervisors and elect a leader who is a legit expert in all of our biggest problems. We don’t have time to F around with the incrementalism and moderation that Brown has demonstrated in office so far. Dean Preston is our guy!
Nomvula O’Meara is a film producer from South Africa who we wish we knew more about. O’Meara didn’t answer most of our questionnaire, and even though she’s been to the debates, the reporters haven’t been writing about her, which sucks! We dug her analysis of the civil rights movement while listening to her at the Milk Club endorsement meeting, but without much else to go on, she didn’t receive our endorsement.
Ryan Lam is barely old enough to vote and already running to represent his generation in City Hall. We love that! Lam has ideas not only for housing and homelessness, but also policing, discrimination, and public schools (although we do wonder about his plan to “make standardized testing standard again”). Unfortunately he didn’t answer a lot of our questionnaire so we aren’t sure how he stands on a lot of important issues, but we are encouraged by the entry of young candidates and hope Ryan continues to be politically engaged!
City Attorney: Dennis Herrera
The City Attorney is San Francisco’s lawyer. That means when voters decide something, the City Attorney defends voters in court. The City Attorney helps Supervisors draft legislation and is also the attorney for the Board of Supervisors. And the cops. And every other City department.
Longtime SF City Attorney Dennis Herrera has gotten national attention for leading the charge to stand up to the Trump administration’s attacks on justice and basic human decency. Like seriously, Herrera has been up in Trump’s business: defending sanctuary cities, suing to protect health care for women and LGBTQ folks, speaking out against bogus appointments.
In 2017, Herrera wrote a big, bold legal opinion that will hopefully shift the balance of power in California to help pass tax measures to fund all the things we need to fix. Herrera interprets a recent state Supreme Court ruling to mean that when voters gather signatures for a tax measure dedicated to a specific purpose (like June 2018’s Prop C for early childhood education or Nov 2018’s Prop C to address homelessness), they should only need 50%+1 to pass, not the 2/3rds supermajority these measures have needed since 1996’s Prop 218. (Here’s the full memo.) This would be a HUGE benefit to passing tax measures to fund important needs, because voters are more likely to support a tax when the money goes to something they value, but it’s damn hard to get over 66.6%! Unfortunately, both of those super-important Prop Cs from 2018 got more than 50% but less than 66.6%, so they are still stuck in appeals-court-limbo. SF corporations are paying the new taxes, but the money is sitting in a bank account, because the City can’t use it until the appeals are settled. (Thanks for nothing, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association!) We’ve been nervous that no other City Attorneys have joined Herrera in this bold opinion, but in July, the first appeals court ruled in his favor. (Suck it, Howard Jarvis!)
Our biggest beef with Herrera in the past has been over the gang injunctions going back to 2007, which targeted communities of color and violated individuals’ civil rights. BUT Herrera is now pushing for them to wind down by the end of this year. We hope he’ll work with other City departments to repair some of the damage that’s been done.
To keep him honest, we have a couple other, fresher beefs:
- In 2015, Herrera pissed off the ACLU and disability rights groups by appealing to the supreme court to defend cops who shot a woman with mental illness, which could've set precedence for cops to ignore the ADA when using force.
- And this year, the ACLU has pushed Herrera on his interpretation of SB1421, the new state law requiring disclosure of police misconduct records, concerned about potential loopholes.
But overall, we give credit to Herrera for being a damn good City Attorney and assembling an office of bad-ass lawyers who are fighting the good fight in the courts on a wide range of issues. Herrera literally helped write the book on how City Attorneys can proactively fight for their communities: “A Practical Guide to Affirmative Litigation for Local Governments.”
Herrera is running unopposed, AGAIN. He’s a progressive City Attorney that is alone out front in some of these huge Trump-squashing fights, so we’ve endorsed him this election. Vote Dennis Herrera for City Attorney!
District Attorney: Chesa Boudin
As a public defender, Chesa fights in court every day for equity under the failing criminal justice system. His parents were incarcerated for his entire childhood--so he knows firsthand there is no justice in using cages to tear families apart. Chesa’s at the forefront of progressive legal initiatives such as ending cash bail, fighting racial bias in the courts, and prohibiting cooperation with ICE.
District Attorneys wield extraordinary power. They determine which crimes are prosecuted and can push for alternatives to mass incarceration. Across the country, there’s a growing movement of public defenders and defense attorneys running for district attorney with a focus on fixing the policies that contribute to mass incarceration.
Chesa’s transformative vision of criminal justice has garnered powerful endorsements from civil rights icons like Angela Davis, Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrice Cullors, Tiffany Caban, and dozens of progressive leaders throughout San Francisco and all across the nation.
Chesa Boudin is a lifelong fighter for transforming the egregious criminal justice system and has been on the front lines of crafting our Sanctuary City policy. He initiated the case with the State of California to end money bail, and was the first person to convince City officials to not honor ICE holds. He’ll prosecute ICE for their illegal raids and harassment!
Vote Chesa Boudin for District Attorney!
We hope that most San Franciscans see mass incarceration and the prison-industrial complex as some of America’s worst stains. But, as our City struggles with the ravages of America’s opioid, mental health, and poverty crises, we’re heartbroken to see so many of our neighbors--including lots of politicians and the press--calling for a “lock ‘em up” approach to property crime. Aside from Chesa Boudin, all of the other candidates running for DA are career prosecutors, representing the failed status quo of the law enforcement establishment.
Suzy Loftus is a former Deputy District Attorney. As a prosecutor, she climbed the ranks by not making waves in a system that destroys families and locks up immigrants and people of color, feeding mass incarceration for years- but now she talks about "reducing the footprint" of mass incarceration. We're glad to see the change in tone, but not sure what to believe.
Loftus entered the race a year ago running to the right of former DA George Gascon with a focus of cracking down on property crime. But with Gascon retiring and Chesa Boudin stepping into the race, she's flipped the script to the left, echoing support for Chesa's progressive initiatives such as ending cash bail and demanding police accountability.
Loftus's core values shift so often that flipping the script seems to be her script.
Fundamentally, the problem with police violence in San Francisco is the lack of civilian oversight. SFPD got away with killing Alex Nieto, Mario Woods, Luis Gongora Pat, Amilcar Perez Lopez, O'Shaine Evans and others for years, and not a single police officer lost their badge. Ask Suzy Loftus, President of the Police Commission up until the SFPD's fatal shooting of pregnant mom Jessica Williams finally caused enough outrage to force Police Chief Suhr's resignation.
Suzy Loftus's time on the Police Commission was a dark time for criminal justice - racist texting scandals, fatal officer shootings and no police accountability.
- Loftus caved to the Police Officers Association on body-worn camera policy, allowing cops to view footage before filing their reports, and no consequences for 'forgetting' to enable the audio on their cameras.
- Loftus refused to endorse Senator Mark Leno’s bill SB-1286 to make police misconduct records public.
- Loftus let the POA unnecessarily drag out reforms through endless “meet-and-confer” negotiations on the policies for taser and use-of-force.
Loftus played ball with the POA for as long was politically expedient. But the Department of Justice found SFPD's use-of-force policy a confusing joke and suggested “21st Century Policing” reforms such as “no more firing guns to ‘signal for help’” and “no more gun euthanization of pets”. Loftus, with a burgeoning political career, threw the POA under the bus by approving the new policy- another script flipped. Avoiding the political fallout, she resigned from the commission due to a "conflict" suggested by her new employer, Sheriff Hennessey.
The POA has since imploded after wasting $500k to lose their Mandatory Taser Charter Amendment (2018’s Prop H). And Loftus, the newfound progressive, brags that she is the only candidate for DA that has been targeted by the POA on TV and radio. As long as they’re talking about Suzy Loftus on TV and radio, let ‘em talk!
Loftus has long eyed a higher office: she graduated from the Emerge California training for political candidates, and her supporters lobbied for her to be appointed to the Board of Supervisors back in 2013. She’s even been fundraising with disgraced SFPD Chief Greg Suhr and right-wing “champion” Annemarie Conroy. We don't need another DA looking to climb the political ladder no matter the cost.
Loftus represents the status quo that is standing between San Francisco and justice: career prosecutors entrenched in the corrupt “City Family” political machine who use the DA’s office as a weapon of mass incarceration. She has prosecuted cases for the District Attorney and worked as counsel for the Attorney General and Sheriff Vicki Hennessey. Loftus calls this “serving San Francisco Law Enforcement.”. It’s time to elect a DA that serves San Francisco.
October surprise! Guess there was no need for an election after all- Suzy Loftus was just unethically appointed District Attorney by Mayor London Breed on the surprise resignation of DA George Gascon. Gascon is retreating to LA, where progressives have recruited him to challenge their own awful DA Jackie Lacie. Breed took a page out of her mentor Willie Brown's playbook and appointed her favorite candidate to the District Attorney position for some sort of stab at incumbency advantage.
The advantage would seem to be slim. Gascon could have resigned earlier- his parting gift to SF was resigning too late for Loftus to change her ballot designation. Voting starts weeks before she will be sworn in on October 18th. And she can't say she's running for re-election. Still, her face is everywhere and voters might not be paying enough attention to see this for the sneaky play that it is (This would have been the first DA race without an incumbent in 100 years!)
There's already a seismic backlash, with protests at the swearing-in ceremony, an angry denunciation from the ACLU, and dormant politicos such as Mark Leno throwing their support behind Chesa Boudin. Even the Examiner cancelled their endorsement of Loftus! Circumventing the voters might piss off more people than win over.
The City Family must really be scared of Chesa to try something like this. Every vote will matter. Please volunteer to turn out voters for Chesa Boudin for District Attorney.
Leif Dautch, current Deputy Attorney General for the State of California, will tell anyone what he thinks they want to hear. The ultimate cliche in all of politics is the lofty promises candidates deliver in hopes of securing votes and endorsements. Leif pretends to be progressive at times and conservative at others, so much so that he got caught lying while seeking the endorsement of progressive organizations and the Police Officers Association.
Nancy Tung is a Deputy DA in Alameda County and a former narcotics prosecutor. She is literally a narc! In her questionnaire, she told us she would continue to file charges against sex workers, didn’t believe in decriminalizing drugs, and doesn’t want to close the juvenile jail. Before Loftus’ surprise appointment, Tung seemed to be her ranked choice ally- but the gloves have come off now.
What Could Criminal Justice Look Like in San Francisco?
The District Attorney Candidates: Boudin, Loftus, Dautch and Tung (Photo credit KQED)
Side note: Why do all candidates for District Attorney have to wear blue suit jackets in their campaign glamor shots? Playing police dress-up seems to confer some law and order credibility. Maybe that's why their budget is so high!
We’ve had enough “tough on crime” DAs to know that what SF really needs is visionary criminal justice reform. Defunding the District Attorney (and eventually the Police and the Sheriff, their co-owners of mass incarceration) could spread the Public Safety budget around to pre-trial diversion programs, social worker services, housing and treatment options. This is what justice could look like in San Francisco. We can't abide the District Attorney status quo of overcharging to increase conviction rates and treating mental illness with solitary confinement at 850 Bryant's crumbling, death trap of a jail (Hi Paul Miyamoto!).
I thought the Public Defender was running for District Attorney? Or was that City Attorney?
Many voters are confused by our myriad Public Safety departments - made more complicated by San Francisco being both a City and a County- so our budget funds Sheriff and Public Defender as well as the Superior Court!
Here's our attempt to make these terms less confusing, and to show each department's funding priorities in San Francisco’s 2019-2020 $12 billion budget.
|Department||What They Do||2019-2020 Budget|
|Public Defender||Defend people in court||$41 million|
|City Attorney||Defend the City in court||$91 million|
|District Attorney||Put people in jail||$73 million|
|Sheriff||Run the jail||$261 million|
|Police Department||Shoot people||$695 million|
A progressive DA like Chesa could undo the war on drugs, decriminalize sex work, prosecute ICE agents and fight for a just Public Safety budget. Vote Chesa Boudin for DA!
Public Defender: Manohar Raju
Fun fact: San Francisco is the only county in California that elects its Public Defender! Manohar (Mano) Raju is a tireless fighter for the most exploited and vulnerable people in the San Francisco criminal justice system. He has been a public defender in San Francisco since 2011, and when he was appointed to follow in the footsteps of the late great Jeff Adachi, there was a great sigh of relief from the Public Defender’s Office. Now he has to officially run to stay in the position. He’s on the ballot unopposed this time, and he’ll need to run again in 2022.
Mano is committed to continuing Adachi’s legacy of ensuring the highest-quality defense for all San Franciscans. He’s also hugely respected in the legal field (he’s literally never had a client go to prison in a case that went to trial) and has the support of progressive allies in the public defender’s office like Matt Gonzalez.
His top priorities are investing in top-notch skills within the public defender’s office, supporting clients through re-entry programs and services, and defending immigrant clients from unjust deportations and other abuses.
We lucked out with the Mayor’s appointment this time. Let’s support this rising progressive leader and help him spread his message of equal justice for all! Vote Manohar Raju for Public Defender!
Sheriff: No Endorsement
Hey look, it’s another unopposed election for an important citywide office. :/ But this lack of competition is particularly galling because there is no incumbent. (Current Sheriff Vicki Hennessey is retiring.) How the hell is it that in our City with so much work happening on criminal justice reform, we ended up with Paul Miyamoto running unopposed for this open Sheriff’s seat??
Partly because not many people can run for Sheriff. Government Code Section 24004.3 sets these oddly specific eligibility requirements to run for Sheriff in California: between one and four years of full-time law enforcement experience (depending on your level of college degree) and an Advanced Certificate from the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training. Basically, you have to be a cop to run for Sheriff.
Not many progressive, social justice-minded folks want to devote the time to becoming cops--especially in this era where the proliferation of police discrimination and violence shows how deep the tentacles of white supremacy are entangled in law enforcement culture. As long as we have cops and jails, that’s a problem we need to address. (Side question: Should we even elect Sheriffs? Should we elect Police Chiefs?)
Paul Miyamoto has been a deputy in the SF Sheriff’s Department for over 20 years. He’s currently the Chief Deputy and runs the jail - poorly! He ran for Sheriff eight years ago (when Mike Hennesey, unrelated to Vicky Hennessey, retired). Miyamoto and Chris Cunnie split the conservative “law and order” vote, which allowed the more progressive Ross Mirkarimi to win. He’s running again this year, and barring a Mirkarimi-esque scandal, he’s going to be our next Sheriff.
A lot of his contributions come from police officers and Sheriff deputies, and both the Police Officers Association and Deputy Sheriff Association endorsed him. That could be good if it means he has the trust of the rank and file in the department to make needed reforms. But we worry it would make Miyamoto less likely to push for reforms.
And unfortunately, it’s become painfully clear that the Sheriff’s office needs reform:
- In 2015, inmates at 850 Bryant accused deputy Sheriffs of running a fight club in the jail. The investigation was later dropped when DA Gascon learned the Sheriff’s office had destroyed evidence!
- In 2018, the number of misconduct cases shot up to 119, compared to 58 in 2017 and 62 in 2016, according to statistics released by Sheriff Vicki Hennessy.
- Earlier this year, inmates at the San Bruno jail accused deputies of abuse and degrading strip searches
All of this happened in the jail that Paul Miyamoto administers! And in September, deputies shot a man and killed his dog after they knocked down his door Dirty Harry style for missing a court date on a non-violent charge. Miyamoto saw nothing wrong with this.
And even with all of the media coverage of the Sheriff’s Department in the last year, we couldn’t really find much info on what work Miyamoto has done, what he’s proud of, or what he wants to do.
The most substantive things he said on our questionnaire is that he wants to add more cameras to eliminate blind spots in the jail, and that he wants to expand the department’s electronic monitoring program.
But on our question about “repairing the harm done by the war on drugs,” his only answer is to “continue the department’s successful efforts.”
Miyamoto answered a few of our “yes/no” questions the right way:: He supports closing jails #3 and #4 at 850 Bryant. He supports AB392, the recently passed reform to the Use of Force rules for cops. And he supports having the Department of Police Accountability investigate misconduct by Sheriff Department, a practice that was already implemented by current Sheriff Hennessey.
But there were a lot of things we didn’t like about his responses to our questionnaire:
- Didn’t take a position on supervised consumption sites
- Doesn’t support decriminalization of all drugs and didn’t explain his position on this
- Supported 2012’s Prop 35 that further criminalized sex workers
- Opposes having a civilian oversight committee (like the Police Commission) make disciplinary decisions for misconduct by Sheriff deputies.
- Didn’t answer our question about how he would change investigations of Sheriff misconduct in the wake of recent scandals
Ron Terry is a long-time Lieutenant in the Sheriff’s office who considered running for the top job. He helped create the nation’s first high school for jail inmates, and is the Program Manager for the well-regarded No Violence Alliance reentry program. That’s the kind of leadership the Sheriff’s department needs, but unfortunately, Terry dropped out after Miyamoto started racking up endorsements. Boo!
For 32 years, San Francisco proudly celebrated having the most progressive Sheriff in California, Mike Hennessey, who showed us what compassionate law enforcement could look like. But since he retired in 2012, the Sheriff’s department has shamefully backslid. We need a Sheriff with the guts and vision to tackle the problems in the jail. So far, Paul Miyamoto has shown neither. No Endorsement for Sheriff.
Treasurer: No Endorsement
José Cisneros was appointed in 2004 by Gavin Newsom. The City’s top bean counter has won four elections since then and is running unopposed this year. The League endorsed Cisneros in 2015 because of his work tackling predatory pay-day lenders and removing barriers to opening low-cost bank accounts. More recently, he launched the Financial Justice Project, which researches the effects of fines and fees on people living in poverty and worked with Mayor Breed to end charges on phone calls from prison.
But Cisneros’ main job is to manage the City’s money, and he has put over $10 billion in US Bank, Bank of America, and CitiBank. He flies across the country lobbying to put more money into Wall Street megabanks. Especially now that the movement to create a municipally controlled bank has gained momentum on the local and state levels, we need a Treasurer who is ready to lead a transition towards a more just and democratic management of public money. Our 2015 and 2013 guides said: “Instead of putting the City’s money in crappy big banks, the Treasurer should be setting up a municipal bank.” This year, we’re taking our own advice and not endorsing a Treasurer who sabotaged the City’s efforts by filling our Public Bank Task Force with Wall Street goons. No Endorsement for Treasurer.
Community College Board: Ivy Lee
Ivy Lee was appointed by the Mayor to finish out Rafael Mandelman’s vacant seat on the Community College Board of Trustees in 2018 after he was elected D8 Supervisor. As Supervisor Jane Kim’s Chief of Staff, Lee was the key architect of Free City, a program that gives SF residents free tuition to City College. She also drafted San Francisco’s minimum wage ordinance, raising the local minimum wage to $15/hr. Before that, Lee was a civil rights attorney directing the Immigrant Rights & Human Trafficking Project at San Franciso’s Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach.
Ivy is one of the founding members of the Rose Pak Democratic Club, the progressive API political organization in SF. She is deeply committed to mentoring and training younger progressive API activists to deepen the bench.
City College faces a number of challenges: hundreds of millions of dollars in deferred maintenance, a shaky funding source for Free City, an opportunity gap for students of color, and most worrisome, a new state funding formula that focuses on graduates and transfers to 4 year colleges and leaves out vocational and continuing education classes, creating a structural budget deficit. Ivy has plans to address each of these challenges. She clearly knows what’s she doing. We know she’ll be an excellent Trustee, and we’re excited to see where she’s going next. Vote Ivy Lee for Community College Board!
Board of Education: No Endorsement
We have mixed feelings about appointed Commissioner Jenny Lam, who is running to keep her seat.
Last year the League endorsed a slate of three Board of Ed candidates who all ran - and won - on powerful equity platforms. Commissioners Gabriela Lopez, Alison Collins, and Faauuga Moliga set a high bar for League BOE endorsements, as they continue to follow through on their campaign pledges. In January, Mayor Breed appointed her education advisor Jenny Lam to fill Matt Haney’s seat on the BOE when Haney was elected to the Board of Supervisors. So this November, SF voters will decide whether to let Lam finish the last year of that term or elect a challenger to the seat. (If elected now, Lam can run again for a full 4-year term in November 2020.)
BOE watchers in the League have mixed feelings about Commissioner Lam. We love that she co-wrote the new Equity Studies resolution, which restructures SFUSD curriculum to centralize decolonization and anti-oppressive pedagogy. Lam also co-authored, along with Commissioners Moliga and Collins, Our Healing in Our Hands, which increases wellness and mental health support to students, parents, and staff across the district. Before being appointed, she also served on Public Education Enrichment Fund (PEEF) and Quality Teacher & Education Act (QTEA) committees.
But we’re concerned about the potential conflict of interest posed by her day job as Education Advisor to the Mayor. Lam needs to show how she’ll manage that conflict in a way that prioritizes students’ needs. When Hydra Mendoza served as education advisor to Mayors Gavin Newsom and Ed Lee while also sitting on BOE, there were widespread conflict of interest concerns. Mayor Breed could have chosen one of the 15 other candidates who ran for BOE last year instead of appointing her (granted, highly qualified) employee.
We were initially unclear on Lam’s position on charter schools. We asked:
Describe your relationship with charter advocates like Innovate Public Schools, the KIPP Foundation, One Promise, and Others.
My relationship with charter school advocates is similar to my relationship with other constituents: I have an open door policy and welcome the opportunity to engage with members of our San Francisco community about how to improve educational opportunities for the students who attend San Francisco’s public schools, whether district-run schools or charters.
Having an open door to corporate education lobbyists is more than a little concerning. Journalists recently discovered that the California Charter Schools Association had a plan to take over all the state’s public schools by 2030. We gave Commissioner Lam an opportunity to clarify what she meant and appreciate her reply:
I do not support increasing privatization or expanding charter schools. I strongly support holding existing charter schools accountable for achieving strong outcomes for all students, for serving student population that reflects the diversity of SFUSD including students with special needs, students learning English, students from low-income families, and for serving students and families equitably (including with respect to school admission and discipline procedures). I also believe every aspect of our system should have the protection of labor rights and provide high quality education for all children and their families. These equity issues should be a core conversation in any charter approval or renewal decisions.
Further, it is my policy not to accept campaign contributions from charter organizations. I have not met with Innovate Public Schools, the KIPP Foundation, or One Promise.
Aaaaaaaaaand then there’s the mural thing, or as we’ve been calling it, the M-word. When the BOE initially voted to paint over the M-word in June, it was a bold stance that acknowledged decades of advocacy by Black and Indigenous students. Then, in August, four commissioners, including both Lam and Moliga, backtracked and supported a resolution to merely cover the murals, instead of paint over them. Parents and allies like Coleman Advocates have said this created a break in trust that is difficult to look past.
City & County Propositions
Prop A: $600M Affordable Housing Bond: YES
This bond would fund affordable housing in San Francisco. This measure has plenty of backing so far! A working group chaired by Mayor London Breed and Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee developed it, and it was introduced to the ballot with the support of all 11 Supervisors.
A broad base of support is important here because the bond requires a two-thirds majority to pass. To ensure the support of property owners, the City has a well-established practice of writing bond measures so that they can be repaid without increasing property tax rates past their 2006 levels. The Controller’s Office has already confirmed that this bond matches that criteria. (With displacement devastating communities across San Francisco and homelessness at a historic high, you might ask whether we are being overly considerate towards the concerns of property owners. That’s not really a reason to vote no though.)
The bond money is split between six budget categories, with the largest chunk, $220,000,000, going towards low income housing. In case you’re wondering what low-income means these days, it’s 80% AMI, or $98,500 per year for a family of four. Money will also be used for repairing public housing, preservation of existing housing stock, middle income housing, senior housing, and educator housing. The money will create an estimated 2,800 homes over the next four years, 1,050 of which will be low income housing. Landlords will be able to pass through 50% of the costs from this bond onto renters, and the League is excited for legislation currently in the works to create hardship waivers for tenants who cannot afford this type of pass through. We know those unit numbers look small. Whenever a proposal is made to tackle San Francisco’s affordable housing crisis, the size of the challenge comes into focus. This measure is an obvious step in the right direction, though, so the League says Vote YES on Prop A!
Prop B: Representation for Disabled and Aging Adults: YES
This simple charter amendment requires a majority vote to change the name of the “Aging and Adult Services Commission” to the “Disability and Aging Services Commission”. The name change also applies to the City Department that the Commission oversees, as well as the Dignity Fund administered by the Department. Prop B is a no-brainer, put on the ballot by the Board of Supervisors, with no real opposition. But since you’re here and you’re Voter Guide Curious, let’s take this opportunity to dig a little deeper.
In San Francisco, Commissions are part of the executive branch. They provide budgetary and policy oversight for their corresponding City Departments. Commissioners are usually appointed by the Mayor, but in 2002 a progressive Board of Supervisors wrestled away some power from Mayor Willie Brown, amending the charter so that some Commissioners are appointed by the Board.
The Aging and Adult Services Commission is appointed exclusively by the Mayor, and Prop B does not change that. But Prop B does add requirements to the charter, that three of the seven Commissioner seats should reflect the constituencies served by the Department. One seat must be held by a senior (60+), another seat by an adult (18+) with an ADA-recognized disability, and a third seat by a former US military member who was other-than-dishonorably-discharged.
The Dignity Fund administered by the department won’t change substantively if this passes- just its name. This fund, added to the City Charter by voters in 2016, supports Seniors and Adults with Disabilities with home care, emergency care, housing, transitional support, transportation and other benefits that help our City live up to the name of St. Francis. Side note: Senior displacement to the suburbs often means lack of access to these funded services.
One of the first steps of the Dignity Fund was a Community Needs Assessment that reached out to those served by the Department to determine barriers to access. A key finding of the needs assessment was that Adults with Disabilities weren’t accessing Department services because “Disabilities” wasn’t in the name. The Board of Supervisors responded to this finding by placing this new Charter Amendment on the ballot, which we support as an inclusive step to increase access to services via the Dignity Fund, which we endorsed the creation of in 2016. Now you know the background for this innocuous but important measure. Vote YES on Prop B!
Prop C: Let Juul Write Vape Law “For The Children”: HELL FUCKING NO
This is the slimiest political move we’ve ever seen, and that includes Gavin Newsom’s hair.
In June, our Board of Supervisors passed a moratorium on vaping products while the Feds take a closer look at their health effects (spoiler: BAD). Hometown nicotine peddlers Juul and their tobacco industry buddies didn’t like that, so they crafted Prop C to overturn the moratorium. Hmm, corporations writing their own rules… When has that ever worked out?
Prop C claims to replace the ban with “regulations,” but many are already state law (like pretending to raise the legal age of purchase) some are impossible to enforce (a complicated online registry with no money to manage it), and some are downright scary (a point-of-sale system that could track purchaser data).
They even sued the City over the ballot digest language. The Ballot Simplification Committee and City Attorney spent a ton of time on that language and finally settled on saying it may repeal the flavored tobacco ban because Juul’s ballot measure language was so misleading. The courts sided with the City, finding that Juul could have included clarifying language saying it would not mess with the flavored tobacco ban but chose not to.
The Yes on C campaign’s “protect the children” messaging is disingenuous and disgusting. Juul has taken every move from Big Tobacco’s playbook, sometimes with a Silicon Valley twist (exploiting social media influencers to get teens to vape). The CDC says youth vaping rates have more than doubled in the last two years, and now young adults are dropping dead from this shit.
You may have heard that vaping is safer than smoking, or that it helps people quit.
But here’s the deal: vaping chemicals are hella harmful. The FDA is investigating Juul for claiming vaping is safer than smoking. It seems like every day another state or country (including California) calls for a ban on this garbage.
A little bit inside baseball, but we watch the games -- Juul can’t run an $11M campaign by themselves. They need campaign consultants. They even hired a Trump pollster. We’re super disappointed that folks who’ve worked on progressive campaigns are peddling Juul’s bullshit. We progressives need to keep each other accountable!
Plot Twist Update: Juul just pulled their funding for Prop C and the Yes on C campaign is scrambling. Say whaaa?!? We didn’t see that coming, but it kinda makes sense. Juul is in disarray. New York, Massachusetts, and Michigan banned flavored vapes, people are dying from vaping, and even Trump is going after them. Juul’s CEO just stepped down, but the new CEO comes from Altria, Philip Morris’s parent company, which recently bought 35% of Juul. Now the grown-up cancer merchants are calling the shots.
You see, Juul is now playing the Big Tobacco game: acting conciliatory and responsible while biding their time and using their massive stockpile of money to outlast their competition. Supposedly none of their competitors have the resources to go through the FDA approval process. So if Juul is able to get that approval, they'll have a legal monopoly. And, they’d be allowed to sell in SF again.
Nobody knows what this means for the Prop C campaign, which technically operates independently. Some of the $11.6 million Juul put into the campaign must have gone to polling - did they back out because it was looking so bad for them? Or so good?
So stay frosty, pissed off voters. We’ll still need to work hard to defeat this one, so tell your friends: Vote HELL FUCKING NO on Prop C!!!
Prop D: Teeny Tiny Traffic Tax on Lyft and Uber: YES
“I’ll take ‘What’s the Bare Minimum Lyft and Uber Can Do’ for $1000, Alex.”
Prop D is a modest tax on “transportation network companies” (AKA commercial ride-share companies, AKA Uber and Lyft) to fund Muni and traffic safety improvements. The tax rate varies depending on the type of ride:
- 3.25% tax on Uber/Lyft rides
- 1.5% tax for shared rides (Uber Pool, Lyft Line, etc.)
- 1.5% tax for rides in zero-emission vehicles (this discounted rate expires 12/31/2024)
The tax would also apply to for-hire autonomous vehicle rides, if/when those are available on our streets.
This tiny tax would actually raise a decent chunk of change--$30-35 million/year-- that would be split in half:
- 50% to the SFMTA to improve Muni
- 50% to the SFCTA to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety
Supervisor Aaron Peskin originally planned a ballot measure to increase the gross receipts tax on Uber and Lyft. We liked that idea of taxing the corporations on their total revenue as opposed to taxing individual rides. But UberLyft vowed to fight that, so this ballot measure was a compromise with the companies to not only drop their opposition but to fund the campaign for Prop D.
Because the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) preempts San Francisco on almost all regulations of TNCs, the state legislature had to pass a special bill giving us permission to do this milquetoast ballot measure. Big ups to Peskin for navigating all of that bullshit to give us this first measure that addresses UberLyft’s impacts.
Muni is desperate for more cash--especially money like this that can go to operating costs, which bond moneys can’t be used for. And the City could really use some extra bread to style out the major upgrades to our City streets. Too often we’re forced to make broke-ass choices like, “Do you want a raised crosswalk or a bulb-out on the corner or pedestrian-scale lighting? But you can only have one!”
So for a $10 ride, this tax would add $0.32 to the bill. We tried to look into the specifics of how these companies charge per mile, but ha, silly us, they don’t publish that! A total lack of transparency--for riders, drivers, and regulators--is baked into their business model. We assume their algorithms are always refining how to charge riders the most and pay drivers the least, so we assume they’ll absorb this tiny tax into their gross capitalistic calculations. (Sidenote: did you know that taxis are often cheaper or the same price as Lyft/Uber, with less worker exploitation and more insurance and transparency? You can order a taxi using the Flywheel app!)
The tiny size of this tax is good for people who like to use Uber and Lyft, but not so good for public transit or, you know, the planet. UberLyft’s vision that we should all be able to order a cheap private vehicle in less than five minutes is completely unsustainable! We know it can be super convenient, but if we want to continue adding more people to the City, we need to prioritize MASS transit over PERSONAL transit. So this tiny tax, while a step in the right direction, is unlikely to change behavior to nudge people towards sustainable transportation options.
The most effective measure addressing UberLyft we’ve seen is New York City’s “Minimum Wage and Utilization Charges for TNCs. It does the following:
- Sets a minimum wage for drivers
- Pays drivers more when companies have “low utilization rates,” i.e. when drivers are “dead-heading” (driving around causing congestion while waiting for rides). This means the more cars the companies have circling without passengers, the more they have to pay their drivers. This has led both Uber and Lyft to stop hiring new drivers for the first time!
Other measures that might actually improve things on our streets:
- A higher tax
- A cap on the number of for-hire vehicles allowed in the City at one time
- Congestion pricing
- A tax on delivery vehicles (Door Dash, Caviar, Amazon Fresh, etc.)
Between UberLyft, the Amazon/on-demand revolution in retail, and the explosion of food delivery services, the way we use our streets is dramatically changing. And while it can be convenient for individuals, as a whole, it’s strangling our City with congestion and making it impossible to densify our City and make room for more people to live the San Francisco lifestyle. Shit’s gotta change. Prop D isn’t that dramatic change, but it’s a tiny step in the right direction. Vote YES on Prop D!
Prop E: Finally! Affordable Housing For Teachers and Families: YES
The Affordable Homes for Educators and Families Now measure is designed to be a one-two punch with this year’s affordable housing bond measure. Prop A raises money for affordable housing, while Prop E frees up the land- thousands more sites- for cheaper and quicker affordable housing development. It also pilots a first-of-its kind “teacher housing” program, created in partnership with both the SFUSD teachers and City College faculty unions.Prop A includes a line item that will earmark some of the money raised for affordable housing specifically for the program Prop E establishes.
The teacher housing program laid out in Prop E will address a dire need: SFUSD reports that 64% of teachers meet the legal definition of “rent burdened,” and 15% of teachers spend more than half of their income on rent.
The program will allow land owned by San Francisco’s school and city college districts to be used for affordable housing specifically dedicated for SFUSD and CCSF employees. (Under California's Fair Employment & Housing Act (FEHA), you can't commit housing placement based on tenants' occupations or jobs - but if you OWN the land, then you can say who gets to go into the units because it then qualifies as "employee housing" - in other words, you're building housing for your workforce. Are you listening, Big Tech??) Our public land is one of the most precious assets we have - and with land costs being a large part of why affordable housing is so expensive to build, this measure is critical to ensuring we maximize these assets for the public good. The units will be subject to standard affordable housing requirements, and each unit will need to be occupied with at least one resident who works for SFUSD or CCSF to qualify as "employee housing"..
The second half of this measure gets real technical. Prop E will “streamline” the affordable and teacher housing development processes in order to get these projects approved faster than usual. Prop E also changes zoning rules, which outline what buildings are built where, just for affordable housing.
Zoning changes are a lot less sexy than millions of new dollars in affordable housing, so we want to be sure to emphasize why these changes are actually a Really Big Deal.
City law currently forbids the construction of new apartment buildings in 75-87% of the City.
Yep, you read that right! So how does that work?
Right now, nearly 75% of the City is zoned either RH-1 or RH-2, meaning it’s only legal for developers to build either one unit or two building units on the property. Assuming that an “apartment building” would be at least 3 units, this means that it’s currently illegal to build apartment buildings in 75% of the city. If you instead assume that an apartment building should be at least five units, then it’s illegal to build apartment buildings in 87% of the City.
Bans on apartment buildings are seriously Bad News for the construction of new affordable housing. In order for a project to be eligible for subsidies through the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, an affordable housing project must be at minimum 50-70 units. In other words, apartment bans are affordable housing bans.
Prop E’s zoning changes only apply to affordable housing development. These zoning changes are definitely not going to lead to tall luxury development anywhere near you. They will however allow affordable housing to be built in all neighborhoods in our city, making the city’s low density neighborhoods a little bit less exclusionary.Prop E is the rare measure that has support from all sides of San Francisco’s political spectrum—it was drafted by progressive Supervisors in partnership with labor and affordable housing developers and has been endorsed by the Mayor and the Democratic Party. In conclusion: there’s a lot of good shit in here. Vote YES on Prop E!
Prop F: Sunlight on Dark Money: YES
This good government proposition is also known by the adorable title Sunlight on Dark Money (not to be confused with the adorably depressing Smiths classic Sunlight on Dark Mondays).
Prop F strengthens the San Francisco Campaign Finance Reform Ordinance (CFRO) by closing campaign contribution loopholes and improving advertising disclosure requirements.
Prop F was put on the ballot by five progressive Supervisors and is supported by Friends of Ethics, a good government watchdog group comprised of former Ethics Commissioners and political gadflies who believe that Sunlight is the best disinfectant for political corruption.
Post-Citizens United, San Francisco is doing what it can to stay afloat in the cesspools of dark money excreted by shadowy, anonymous PACs. Last year, Republican Venture Capitalist Ron Conway raised hundreds of thousands for his Progress San Francisco State PAC to buy the Mayoral election for London Breed, but there’s no way you could have known this until late in the election, thanks to weak campaign advertising disclosure laws that Prop F will strengthen.
By shining a light on dark money, voters can know the true source of funds. Prop F will require campaign advertisements from independent political committees to disclose the top three contributors to the committee above $5k (currently the threshold is $10k), as well as the top three contributors to any secondary independent political committees that contributed to the first committee.
Prop F requires that printed campaign financial disclaimers that were required to be 12 point font size are now required to be 14 point and bold. Audio and Video advertisements will need to move their financial disclaimers to the Beginning of the media instead of the End. Can you imagine a commercial where the first words you hear are “Paid for by Juul”?
Donor identities can currently be concealed by contributions from LLCs and LLPs. Prop F closes the LLC and LLP loopholes by banning contributions to candidates running for office, same as other types of corporate entities.
Prop F also combats Pay to Play corruption by limiting contributions from persons with financial interests in pending land use approvals. Developers, owners and directors of such entities cannot contribute money to the campaigns of the Mayor, the Board of Supervisors, the City Attorney, and any candidates for these offices while the land use matters are being considered and for the 12 months afterward.
Big Developers frequently contribute thousands of dollars to local campaigns, putting their thumbs on the scales of housing justice. Money in our elections is a significant drive for displacement and lack of affordability. Voters should know who is trying to buy our votes. Vote YES on Prop F!
Like our voter guide?
THE VOTER GUIDE IS COMING IN OCTOBER! STAY TUNED!
The San Francisco League of Pissed Off Voters members voted to endorse the following candidates and props for the November 2019 election. Stay tuned for our full, unabridged Pissed Off Voter Guide with all of our analysis! And you can see the candidates' responses to our questionnaire here.
- Mayor: No Endorsement
- Board of Supervisors, District 5: Dean Preston
- District Attorney: Chesa Boudin
- City Attorney: Dennis Herrera
- Treasurer: No Endorsement
- Public Defender: Manohar Raju
- Sheriff: No Endorsement
- Community College Board: Ivy Lee
- Board of Education: No Endorsement
- Prop A: Affordable Housing Bond: YES
- Prop B: Department of Disability & Aging Services: YES
- Prop C: Vapor Products: NO
- Prop D: Traffic Congestion Mitigation Tax: YES
- Prop E: Affordable Housing & Educator Housing: YES
- Prop F: Campaign Contribution & Campaign Advertisement: YES
11/6: Election Day! Polls open 7am-8pm. If you’re in line by 8 you can vote!
- Where’s Your Polling Place? See YourFuckingPollingPlace.com, call 311, or just go vote at San Francisco City Hall.
- Slackers Can Vote: Election Day Voter Registration! Did you miss the 10/22 deadline to register to vote? Head directly to City Hall - DO NOT PASS GO -- register and vote right up through Election Day! Late registration is only available at the Dept. of Election in the basement of City Hall, not regular polling places. Go vote!
- Former Felons Can Vote! Even if you've committed a felony, you can vote as long as you’re off parole. Don’t let the Man disenfranchise you.
2018 Midterms: The Resistance Strikes Back!
- PDF of our print voter guide (made for 11x17" paper)
- Here's our voting cheat sheet. See below for all of our research and analysis.
Federal, State, and Regional Offices
Governor: No Endorsement
Lieutenant Governor: Ed Hernandez 💩😕💩
Secretary of State: Alex Padilla
Controller: Betty Yee
State Treasurer: Fiona Ma 💩😕💩
Attorney General: Xavier Becerra
Insurance Commissioner: Ricardo Lara
Board of Equalization, District 2: Malia Cohen 💩😕💩
Carol A. Corrigan: NO
Leondra R. Kruger: YES
James M. Humes: YES
Sandra Margulies: NO
James A. Richman: NO
Marla Miller: NO
Peter John Siggins: YES
John B. Streeter: YES
Alison M. Tucher: YES
Barbara Jones: YES
State Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tony Thurmond
Prop 1: $4B Bond for Affordable Housing: YES
Prop 2: Allow Previous Bond Money to Be Used for Homeless Housing: YES
Prop 3: $9B Bond for Water Projects: YES
Prop 4: $1.5B Bond for Children’s Hospitals: YES
Prop 5: Expand Prop 13 for Property Owners: HELL NO!
Prop 6: Repeal Gas Tax and Require 2/3rds Vote for Future Gas Taxes: HELL NO!
Prop 7: Start the Process to Eliminate Daylight Saving Time: YES
Prop 8: Regulation of Kidney Dialysis Charges: YES
Prop 9: Stupid Vanity Prop to Divide CA in Thirds: KICKED OFF THE BALLOT!
Prop 10: Repeal Costa Hawkins! Allow Expansion of Rent Control! HELL YES!
Prop 11: Private Ambulance Companies Try to Mess with EMTs’ Work Breaks: NO
Prop 12: New Standards for Confinement of Farm Animals: YES
Prop A: $425M Bond to Start Rebuilding the Seawall: YES
Prop B: Privacy First Policy: YES
Prop C: “Our City, Our Home!” Tax Big Businesses to Fund Homeless Housing and Services: HELL YES!
Prop D: Two for One! Tax on Cannabis and on Non-SF Companies that Sell Stuff Here: YES
Prop E: Restore the Hotel Tax Allocation for Arts and Culture: YES
San Francisco Offices
Board of Supervisors, District 2: No Endorsement
Board of Supervisors, District 4: Gordon Mar
Board of Supervisors, District 6: Matt Haney
Board of Supervisors, District 8: Rafael Mandelman
Board of Supervisors, District 10: #1 Tony Kelly #2 Uzuri Pease-Greene
We focus on San Francisco, so we can't 100% vouch for all of these voter guides, but here are some recommended resources:
- Oakland: Bay Rising Action and Oakland Space Cat Voters. These are two groups we know and trust.
- Los Angeles: Democratic Socialists of America LA chapter. We know nothing about LA, but they've done a ton of research and we love DSA-SF.
- Richmond Progressive Alliance. We don't know personally them, but they are the gold standard for organizing progressive people power.
- Berkeley, Richmond, Oakland: Frustrated Socialist Guide. Written by some East Bay DSA members including Soli Alpert, a former SF League member who is running for Berkeley Rent Board!
- San Jose: Paulina Cortes' progressive voter guide. We don't know Paulina, but they've clearly put a lot of work into this and it looks like they share our values. Plus you can print out their voter guide zine!
- Marin & Peninsula cities: Sasha Perigo's mega-long voter guide. Sasha is relatively new on the SF political scene, but she's a nerdy, passionate organizer, and her SF endorsements almost exactly match ours.
Federal, State, and Regional Offices
Governor: No Endorsement
Why not Gavin Newsom? He’s the Democrat, right? We understand why a lot of people look at him as a “great progressive hope” based on his championing issues like marriage equality and gun control, and he sure does like tweeting at Trump. But he didn’t get the 50% threshold of support from our members to earn our endorsement. Sadly many of us just can’t support him after watching his “style above substance” politics, opportunistic grandstanding, shady, and scuzzy tenure as Mayor. He was consistently on the side of big business, tried to co-opt immigrant rights activists while reporting immigrant youth to ICE, and generally acted like a spoiled rich kid who was too good for the rest of us.
We’re pissed at how he cynically propped up Republican John Cox in the primary because he’ll have an easier time beating him than another Democrat--even though having Villaraigosa on the ballot would’ve helped Democratic turnout in swing districts. We’re also pissed at how he’s parroting the Chamber of Commerce’s talking points against Prop C. Dude, when you split San Francisco for the burbs as soon as you were elected Lt. Governor, you kinda forfeited your right to lecture us about homelessness! 2016’s Prop 63 was another of example of Gavin’s “style over substance” approach: a mostly unnecessary and duplicative measure that let Gav act like a champion on gun control. We hope he’ll surprise us with a progressive turn as Governor, but we’re not holding our breath. After all, actually accomplishing something for normal Californians would jeopardize his chance of hair-gel-slime-trailing his way into the White House. We’re getting ready for eight years of empty PR politics.
Blargh. Do we really need a Lieutenant Governor? We’re skeptical that this office is worth having, and we’re bummed that Gayle McLaughlin (former Mayor of Richmond and progressive hero) didn’t finish in the top two in June. Two establishment Democrats did, and one of them will become a semi-high profile leader in California, so we’re going with the one who has the most receipts we can analyze.
The Lt. Governor doesn’t have much real power, except with the Governor is out of the state, but they do serve on a bunch of important boards--the State Lands Commission, UC Regents, and CSU Board of Trustees being the most important--and appoints people to a number of others.
Ed Hernandez is an optometrist turned termed-out state Senator from the San Gabriel Valley. He has a long record of votes and legislative scorecards that show him landing somewhere between the progressive and squishy-middle camps in Sacramento, depending on the issues. He’s been solid on labor, education, and women’s issues, but squishy on some environmental, tax, and health care issues. In his 12 years in Sacramento, he’s taken $42K in fossil fuel money and voted against a 2014 moratorium on fracking. But he hasn’t taken any oil money this election and pledged not to. He’s also taken $200K from drug companies since 2011, but he also pissed them off by sponsoring 2017’s SB17, the strongest drug pricing transparency law in the country. That led PHARMA to drop $200K opposing Hernandez for Lt. Governor (AKA the “Lite Gov”).
Eleni Kounalakis was Obama’s ambassador to Hungary, and like most ambassadors it seems like she got that appointment because she comes from money. Her family made a fortune in real estate, and she was the President of their company, AKT Development. Her family has dropped $8 million on this race (her first run for office)! It rubs us the wrong way when rich people blow millions promoting their own campaigns--especially when they’re not championing specific issues. If she wanted to spend that money to make herself a leader, why couldn’t Kounalakis have spent that money on making herself the face of a progressive ballot measure? Probably the most substantive role the Lite Gov holds is a seat on the State Lands Commission. We’re concerned the Kounalakis family’s real estate interests could present conflicts of interest there. Climate activists are also upset that she’s taken in hundreds of thousands from the Western States Petroleum Association who are tenants in one of her Sacramento buildings. She says that money is now being directed to a foundation to fight climate change.
Both of these candidates talk good games on issues like making college affordable, protecting the climate, and building affordable housing. They would both probably be fine at this do-nothing job. Neither of them are the type of transformative, people-power-focused leader we’re looking for. So we’re going with Ed Hernandez because he gives us a better idea of what to expect from him.
Side note: the lieutenant governor used to serve as warden at San Quentin. We think having this role would have been good for keeping Gavin preoccupied.
Secretary of State: Alex Padilla
We endorsed Alex Padilla in 2014 and he’s lived up to his promises. He’s been a vocal champion for voting rights and expanding voting access, and for the rights of immigrants and other marginalized groups. Padilla oversaw the rollout of online voter registration (shoutout to Uncle Leland), and sponsored California’s New Motor Voter Act. He’s legitimately passionate about the role of Secretary of State - according to the Sacramento Bee, under Padilla, California has seen an increase of 2 million registered voters!
The Republican challenger is a Trumper who should be disqualified for his fashion sense alone.
Vote Alex Padilla for Secretary of State!
Controller: Betty Yee
The CA Controller is the state’s chief fiscal officer. In the 2014 Controller primary we supported progressive Democratic candidate John Perez, but Betty Yee and the Republican were the top two vote getters and so we endorsed Yee in the November race. She won 53%-47%. Since then, she’s been an honest and capable civil servant who’s not afraid of rocking the boat when necessary. Just this year, she backed calls by Sacramento legislators to expand sexual harassment training throughout the capital. In July, Yee appointed a Sierra Club board member to the Clean Energy Jobs Act Citizens Oversight Board. Her challenger is an anti-tax Republican backed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. 🙄 Vote Betty Yee for State Controller!
Fiona Ma has climbed the political ladder from the SF Board of Supervisors to the State Assembly to the Board of Equalization, and now she’s poised to be California’s next Treasurer. She was part of the conservative block on the Board of Supes and was somewhere between decent and awful in the Assembly. We’re no fans of the Board of Equalization as a legislative body, but it seems like she’s been decent there. We give her credit for calling for the audit that revealed what a shitshow that board is, and we’re glad she’s supporting the “Amazon Tax” at the state level. And her history as a CPA does give her some basic qualification for balancing the State’s books. But when push comes to shove, we question whether she would stand up against the big money that has funded all of her campaigns.
Her opponent is Greg Conlon, an old-school Republican who is also a CPA and was appointed to a couple of commissions by Republican Governor Pete Wilson. One of his big policy ideas is to cut the income tax on start-ups. No thanks.
UPDATE: We’re pissed off that Fiona Ma refuses to rescind her endorsement of Josephine Zhao for School Board. Zhao campaigned against gender-neutral bathrooms in schools using transphobic language back in 2013. When she was recently called out on it, she attacked the Harvey Milk club in Chinese language posts, while apologizing in English. Basically, Zhao’s been gaslighting the whole damn City, and shame on Fiona Ma for condoning that behavior.
Attorney General: Xavier Becerra
Xavier Becerra, the Democratic incumbent, served 12 terms in Congress before Jerry Brown appointed him to replace Kamala Harris when she won her Senate seat. He’s the first Latino Attorney General and is widely seen as leading the “California resistance,” filing tons of lawsuits against the Trump administration - about the travel ban, DACA, the border wall, sanctuary cities, birth control, the ban on trans people in the military, student loans, etc.
Becerra beat out Sanders-style candidate Dave Jones in the June primary, and we found both of these candidates inspiring! Becerra is now up against a scary Republican who’s backed by the NRA. Vote Xavier Becerra for Attorney General!
Insurance Commissioner: Ricardo Lara
Insurance Commissioner is just one person wielding huge power. They manage a $250 million dollar budget regulating a $300 billion dollar industry. The Insurance Commissioner is responsible for regulating healthcare insurance companies, investigating insurance fraud, and will also be tasked with deciding who pays for utility-caused wildfires in California.
Ricardo Lara was the first openly gay person of color elected to the California Senate in 2012. He’s a six-year Democratic State Senator for Long Beach and parts of Los Angeles. He's a statewide lefty, having served in the Assembly and previously worked for Kevin de Leon as his communications director. He's vice-chair of the California LGBT Caucus. His focus has been the California resistance to Trump and single payer healthcare. He authored the 2015 law that allows all low-income undocumented children and youth to enroll in full-scope Medi-Cal. In 2017, he introduced SB 562, a bill that would have brought universal healthcare to California. We thought Lara might be to the right of Dave Jones in the area of consumer protections, but he’s talking more about it, especially with the national Consumer Protection Agency at risk of being gutted by Trump.
Lara is facing off against Republican-turned-independent Steve Poizner, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and co-founder of the California Charter School Association. Poizner is running as an Independent to avoid the Republican stigma- but previously served as Insurance Commissioner as a Republican from 2007-2011, preceding Dave Jones. He ran for Governor in 2010 but was defeated in the primary by Meg Whitman, running on a platform of stopping "taxpayer-funded benefits for illegal immigrants". He's one of two Republicans to win statewide office in the last few decades (the other was Schwarzenegger), so even in today’s anti-Trump California, there’s a chance he’ll get elected. Poizner says he's come around on immigration and wants to get everyone on a path to being documented, but he’s still talking about protecting the insurance companies’ interests framed as protecting consumers. Poizner actually got more votes in the primary. YIKES! Vote Ricardo Lara for Insurance Commissioner!
In the June primary, we didn’t endorse D10 Sup. Malia Cohen. As we said in June, the Board of Equalization is problematic to the point that we’d like to see it eliminated. Until that happens, the office is mostly held by political climbers who need to keep a seat warm. Local progressives, including the League, have been pissed at Cohen for flip-flopping her position on Prop 10. On her questionnaire for the League and several other groups, she said she would support the repeal of Costa-Hawkins, yet when a resolution came before the Board of Supes, she first voted against it and blamed tenant advocates for not explaining it to her. She eventually voted for it, but her lack of knowledge about this crucial area is troubling. We’ll vote Cohen for now, but if she’s elected, we’ll keep an eye on her and hold her accountable.
U.S. Senator: Kevin de León
Five-term CA Senator Dianne Feinstein is being challenged by State Senator Kevin de León, who says he was inspired to run by Feinstein’s comments that Trump could be a “good president” if given a chance.
As the first in his family to graduate from high school or college, de León understands the struggles of working families. He started out as a community organizer and public school advocate where he fought for access to healthcare for children before being elected to the California State Assembly. A strong advocate for workers, de León worked to increase the minimum wage, create retirement security for millions of future retirees, and pass wage theft legislation.
That would be a big change in personal background and perspective from Feinstein. We can't even count the number of protests we've been invited to outside her Pacific Heights mansion where she lives with her war profiteering billionaire husband.
De León has lead the California legislature's efforts to enact strong emissions regulations in California, as well as ensuring low -income people of color communities get some of the investment. The day after Trump was elected de León issued a strong statement saying that California was ready to resist and defend all of our communities from the administration. He immediately started working with immigrant rights groups to introduce the Sanctuary State law and took on the racist Sheriff's Association to see it passed into law last year.
Unlike Feinstein, de León supports single-payer health care and strong legislation regulating police use of force. De León received more support than Feinstein and won the state Democratic party endorsement in July! We are excited to see a challenger who is pushing Feinstein to the left and forcing her to be accountable to her constituents. Vote Kevin de León for US Senate!
U.S. Congress, District 12: No Endorsement
Sigh. Every two years we debate whether or not to endorse Nancy Pelosi, and she goes on to win by a landslide, whether we do or not. We’re bummed that the FIVE progressives who challenged her in June split 22% of the vote, allowing the Republican to sneak onto the November ballot with 9%. We respect all that Pelosi has done for the national Democratic Party. She raises massive amounts of money, and her skill as a legislator and vote wrangler were key to passing Obamacare. But in all of our years following her, she’s been AWOL on almost all SF-specific issues. And her dismissive comments about democratic socialism and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez make us feel like she’s not representing our perspective in D.C. We're also concerned about how Republicans love to use Pelosi as a boogeyman against all Democrats. There’s a lot of bullshit sexism wrapped up in that, but we can’t deny that Pelosi’s persona conveys a sense of wealthy, establishment, coastal elitism that turns a lot of people off. Lastly, she’s held this seat since 1987! It’s time for Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic Party leadership to make way for the next generation of leaders.
U.S. Congress, District 14: Jackie Speier
Speier has played a key progressive role on issues we care about while keeping her district in mind. Recently she pushed for federal funding to preserve bayside wetlands and improve flood protections in the Bay Area. She’s been a longtime congressional fighter for women’s rights. Jackie and other House Democratic women managed to protest the Brett Kavanaugh Committee Hearing without saying a damn word! They’d been in the audience watching, and when the committee pushed the motion vote, the women stood up, stood in silence, and then walked out in disdain. Dang, Jackie.
She’s only ranking 72 out of 193 House Democrats in terms of progressive votes, so we hope these wins give her confidence to take a more progressive stance in D.C. We’re glad there’s a tiny slice of SF in her district. Vote Jackie Speier for US Congress, District 14.
State Assembly, District 17: No Endorsement
We’re recycling most of what we said in June in the primary, but we’ll add this: the fact David Chiu is opposing Prop C is disqualifying for us. David Chiu, our old sparring buddy from his days as the moderate president of the SF Board of Supervisors, is cruising to re-election. Chiu’s been ok in Sacramento (like, he only low-key sucks). We wish he would grow a spine! One example: AB 1506 sought to repeal the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act (the law that prevents SF from passing rent control on anything built after 1979). Chiu was a co-author of the bill, so that’s good...but he’s the chair of the Assembly Housing Committee and was dragging his feet so long on calling for a vote that tenants rights organizations posted a 45-day eviction notice on his office door in Sacramento! It’s like he wants progressive cred without having to actually take hard stances. FWIW, the pressure worked and he moved the bill forward, though it failed as expected. Repealing Costa Hawkins is on the ballot this election, and we hope it passes. Anyway, Chiu, if you’re listening, plz fight for something that will help at home? K thx. One major addition this election: w.t.a.f. is up with Chiu opposing Prop C? You don’t get to claim to be part of the “Resistance” while protecting ginormous corporations and their Trump tax cuts. No endorsement for State Assembly, District 17.
State Assembly, District 19: Phil Ting
We didn’t endorse Phil Ting, the incumbent, in the June primary, but we’re giving him some love in November because he’s up against a Republican and voters need to know what’s what. Ting had some impressive legislative wins this session, including AB 748, which allows greater public access to law enforcement body camera recordings. Signed by Governor Brown, the law requires the release of video or audio within 45 days of a critical incident, defined as the discharge of a firearm or use-of-force that causes death or great bodily harm.
As budget chair, Ting was able to increase per-pupil spending for California public schools by more than $1,000 and secured $4 million for badly needed structural and ADA upgrades for SF’s largest middle school, A.P. Giannini. He also led the state-enabling legislation AB 1184 to allow SF to tax Uber and Lyft on a percentage of their revenue - something we need to fund transportation infrastructure in this city!" We’re told Ting’s Republican challenger is campaigning by trolling all of Ting’s events - wtf! Vote Phil Ting for State Assembly, District 19.
This election, voters will choose Judge of the Superior Court, Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, Presiding Justices, Court of Appeal, and Associate Justices, Court of Appeal. Info on the judges wasn't posted in time for us to make formal endorsements on them, but now that the final names are added to the voter pamphlet, we’ll give some pointers on how to pick when you know nothing about their records.
If we’ve learned anything this past year, it’s that there is a conservative judicial agenda with lasting horrendous impacts. In California, there are two websites run by conservatives, Robyn Nordell's Conservative California Election Website and the Judge Voter Guide, produced by Craig Huey. They absolutely hate the “judicial activism” that comes from liberal judges. Go there, find out which judges they support, and then vote the opposite. By that method, here are our unofficial suggestions with help from the Vox article, "Don’t Just Say Yes: How to Vote in California’s Judicial Races."
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court: Carol A. Corrigan
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court: Leondra R. Kruger
Presiding Justice Court of Appeal,
Associate Justice Court of Appeal,
Associate Justice Court of Appeal,
Associate Justice Court of Appeal,
Presiding Justice Court of Appeal,
Associate Justice Court of Appeal,
Associate Justice Court of Appeal,
Presiding Justice Court of Appeal,
State Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tony Thurmond
The race for the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (California’s long name for superintendent of schools) is between East Bay Assemblymember Tony Thurmond and charter school CEO Marshall Tuck. It’s pretty easy to see who we’re throwing down for here. Thurmond has a long record of serving Contra Costa County schools on its School Board and Richmond’s Youth Commission.
Tuck, on the other hand, ran the corporate charter school company that Antonio Villaraigosa allowed to take control of Los Angeles schools in 2008. Tuck’s charter school allies put $22 million into Villaraigosa’s gubernatorial bid. When Tuck ran against current SSPI Tom Torlakson in 2014, it ended up being the most expensive state race that year. Charter schools are big business. Meanwhile, Tony Thurmond is busy in Sacramento proposing to tax private prisons to pay for early education and after school programs! He expanded access to college for foster youth. His recent Assembly Bill 2153 would have funded annual training sessions for educators on how to support LGBTQ students in grades 7-12 and address issues like bullying and harassment, but Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it. Boo!
California Teachers Association battled with Tuck when he was given reign of LA’s schools, and they’re working hard to make sure he and his corporate charter allies -- like Betsy DeVos -- don’t gain more statewide power. We’ll take the public servant from Richmond, thanks. Vote Tony Thurmond for State Superintendent of Public Instruction!
Community College Board: Brigitte Davila, John Rizzo, Thea Selby (candidate questionnaires)
In this race we’ve endorsed the incumbents -- they’ve seen City College through some dark days. After the five-year dispute with the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) that sought to revoke its accreditation, City College has come out on the other side to rainbows and sunshine - short term funding of Free City College and increased enrollment.
It’s hard to judge folks on the College Board with a simple progressive-o-meter. They typically don’t face a lot of hot button issues. We asked them all about how they’d deal with the Balboa Park Reservoir development, something that could turn out to be pretty sizzly, but the deal is murky and slow. Essentially, everyone is supportive with caveats and would prioritize development for affordable housing for teachers and students. Aaaannd, everyone is aware that City College doesn’t own the land or have any authority over the matter. This is why we count on our candidate questionnaires to unearth their positions and proclivities.
Brigitte Davila has been a teacher at SFSU in the College of Ethnic Studies for almost 25 years and has fought for equitable funding for higher education at the statewide and federal level. Brigitte is mostly aligned with the League and has the most higher education experience, but she’s not with us on a couple bellwether questions.
John Rizzo is a longtime activist with the Sierra Club, and was instrumental in some of the City’s most important environmental victories. He is mostly aligned with League positions and endorsements and has the longest institutional memory in this role, but he’s a bit of a stick in the mud and has a history of not working well with others.
Thea Selby is a small business owner who’s raised two kids in the SF public school system. An Emerge CA graduate, she’s also mostly aligned with the League. She supports many of our fave progressive candidates, but she’s identified endorsements of candidates that we’d likely never support.
All of the incumbents are committed to making City College truly free, increasing student enrollment, and addressing the aging facilities in dire need of modernization. For this, we support them. Vote Davila, Rizzo, and Selby.
BART Board, District 8: Janice Li (candidate questionnaires)
Janice Li is everything we’d want in a BART Board candidate. She’s a queer woman of color, immigrant, and longtime transit advocate. Her responses to our questionnaire highlighted her knowledge in the areas we know to be pressure points the BART Board faces and issues that split the Board literally in half. She’s committed to equitable public safety. She understands the public safety concerns, specifically from women about the lack of late-night travel options, and how that is balanced with the need to immediately disarm BART police. She stands for the end of the racially biased enforcement for ticket fare evasion and exploring means-based fares, discounted and free passes for low-income passengers, and better fare integration across transit agencies. We also trust that she’ll defend shoring up BART’s core infrastructure before taking on new costly expansions to the suburbs. And in the “post-Janus” world, we know she’ll stand by organized labor during 2021 negotiations.
She’s the Advocacy Director of the Bike Coalition and has served on a ton of committees devoted to transit and mobility, including BART's own Bond Oversight Committee, which oversees how they're spending that public money! If elected, she’d be the first woman to ever serve in the District 8 BART seat, and the first Asian American woman to serve on the BART Board ever.
BART Board was a challenging endorsement this year with five qualified candidates in the race. Of these, Janice has the most extensive transit-specific qualifications and policy recommendations, and that shows in the questionnaire responses.
But we can’t help but give honorable mentions to two uniquely qualified candidates, William Walker and Jonathan Lyens, who would’ve been our top candidates if Janice hadn’t run. It’s worth noting that Janice answered in her questionnaire that she supported herself and William.
William Walker received an endorsement from the League before when he ran for College Board. He told the League he identifies as a “native born, disabled, gay, African American male who lived in a majority person of color neighborhood only two blocks from a BART station and one block from a freeway, with all of the negative externalities that that causes.” When we talk about much needed diversity on the BART Board, this hits the nail on the head. William comes from a union family, and we could be sure he’d protect workers in the next contract negotiations.
Jonathan Lyens identifies as a person with a disability (blindness), and he brings this to the forefront of issues he’s passionate about. BART has serious access issues, and he wants to tackle that along with loss in ridership and pushing for budget stability. He’s been twice appointed by Governor Brown to the State Council on Developmental Disabilities and is super active in local politics. He’s got the endorsement of a host of SF progressives and labor unions.
Board of Education: Alison Collins, Gabriela Lopez, Faauuga Moliga (candidate questionnaires)
The most crowded contest this November will be the last one on your ballot but one of the most important: Board of Education. Nineteen candidates are running for three open seats. Why all the interest? Well, school board is used by some folks as a stepping-stone to the Board of Supes. There are also some hot issues going on in SFUSD that folks without connections to schools may find a little wtf. How is 8th grade algebra a racist dog whistle? Why is the mayor supporting an openly anti-trans candidate? Why did charter schools throw $22 million into the governor’s race? It’s a lot to cover in our voter guide, but we can make it easier by recommending these three rad candidates dedicated to education, not politics.
We’ve known Alison for a while now, through her public school advocacy and her work connecting SF families with the Black Lives Matter movement. Alison’s blog, SF Public School Mom, is an antidote to the voices of white privilege that tend to drown out all others within SFUSD. After being a classroom teacher and District staffer, Alison now organizes parents. Working with families from the Bayview to the Tenderloin, Alison has been pushing back on false narratives about public education, and supporting families to create inclusive, equitable schools. She helped Carver Elementary get $1.9 million in improvements, organized against charter co-location, and worked for modern, inclusive middle school reading lists in her children's own schools. Alison has earned broad support, including almost every school board member, UESF and Democratic Party, and progressive badasses like Sandy Fewer and Jane Kim.
Gabriela Lopez is a bilingual teacher at Flynn Elementary in the Mission, as well as a volunteer teacher at San Quentin’s Academic Peer Education Project - which we love! Lopez is a child of Mexican immigrants, giving her an understanding of the imperative need of language support and the long term academic effects it can have on families who are unable to communicate with their teachers and schools. If elected, she would be the first Latina on the SF’s Board of Ed in 20 years! Lopez wants to address racial segregation within the school assignment system using solutions like online applications and virtual tours, which would allow families who can’t make it to daytime tours to explore more schools. She wants to help parents engage with neighborhood schools and push SFUSD to engage with families who are leaving those schools.
Faauuga Moliga was raised in San Francisco and attended San Francisco public schools, so he knows both the possibilities and pitfalls that exist in the system. He is also the first Pacific Islander to run for BOE. With a lens of mental health and wellness and a passion for young people whose experiences often go unnoticed, he brings a perspective and personality that is genuine, passionate, and thoughtful. Faauuga has both theoretical grounding and extensive practical experience working with and for young people; essential elements of leadership that are needed if the San Francisco Board of Education is going to provide a positive and powerful educational experience for all San Franciscans. Faauuga has a lot of the same supporters as Alison, including UESF, Democratic Party, NUHW, as well as the Governor of American Samoa, whoa!
Appointment recommendation: Mia Satya
But wait, there’s more… hopefully. If Matt Haney wins his race for D6 supervisor, a fourth seat will open up on Board of Ed, and Mayor Breed will get to fill that vacancy. We encourage her to appoint Youth Commissioner and trans advocate Mia Satya. We had a super hard time deciding on these Board of Ed candidates, and we're bummed not to endorse Mia. She would speak out for vulnerable students, and appointing her would be the best way for elected leaders like Breed and Sen. Scott Wiener to make up for their unforgivable support for transphobic, homophobic candidate Josephine Zhao. Win-win-win.
UPDATE 10/15: Mayor Breed appointed Faauuga Moliga to the BOE seat vacated by Commissioner Hydra Mendoza, who left in September to serve as Deputy Chancellor of New York City's Department of Education. Moliga will be seated for the November and December BOE meetings, but still must be elected this November to serve a full term. Mayor Breed had been encouraged to leave this vacancy open to avoid giving any candidate the benefit of incumbency, so why make an appointment for just two months? It may have to do with Zhao's campaign springing to life over the weekend. Zhao supporters were spotted handing out fliers at SFUSD's annual enrollment fair, and YIMBY blog Bay City Beacon ran an op-ed by a Zhao apologist. Breed could simply rescind her endorsement of Zhao but it looks like she chose to -- LOOK, SQUIRREL! -- make an appointment instead.
Prop 1: $4B Bond for Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond: YES
Proposition 1 would authorize $4 billion in general obligation bonds for affordable housing programs ($3 billion) and a veterans’ home ownership program ($1 billion). While this does not solve California’s affordable housing crisis, it will certainly help. And, importantly, the largest portion of funding ($1.5 billion) goes to the Multifamily Housing Program, which is for the new construction, rehabilitation and preservation of permanent and transitional rental housing for people with incomes of up to 60% of AMI (i.e., deeply affordable housing!)
Prop 1 builds on nearly a century of California providing housing assistance for veterans, with the first program passed by voters in 1922. In June 2014, voters passed Prop 41 which authorized $600 million for multi-family supportive housing, transitional housing, and rental housing or related facilities to relieve homelessness. The League endorsed Prop 41 then and we say Yes to Prop 1 now.
Prop 2: Allow Previous Bond Money to Be Used for Homeless Housing: YES
Prop 2 would allow the State to use revenue in the Mental Health Services Fund to finance permanent supportive housing for individuals living with serious mental illness who are homeless, chronically homeless, or at risk of chronic homelessness.
In 2004, voters approved Prop 63, also known as the Mental Health Services Act. It funded severely underfunded county mental health services. In 2016, the California Legislature created the No Place Like Home program to build and rehab housing for residents with mental illness who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless. Prop 2 allows the state to use up to $140 million per year of county mental health funds to repay up to $2 billion in bonds.
No Place Like Home is currently hung up in the courts. The State needs to plan to approve whether using Mental Health Services Act dollars to pay for No Place Like Home goes along with what the voters wanted when it was first approved in 2004. And, they need to decide whether voters need to approve the new bonds. This court decision is pending. If Prop 2 passes, it’s all good and the court case is moot.
Ideally, there would be a new revenue stream for housing for homeless folks with mental health issues. We don’t love the idea of diverting money away from direct services. However, given how many unhoused people struggle with mental illness, the State should have the flexibility to use existing revenue streams to build more supportive housing for this population.
Prop 3: $8.9B Bond for Water Projects: YES
We had a bit of a split vote on Prop 3 but ultimately a majority of our members voted to support it because of concerns for crumbling dams (remember the 2017 Oroville Dam failure?) and the need to invest in water infrastructure in general--especially with the coming challenges from climate change.
Prop 3 authorizes $8.877 billion in state general obligation bonds for various infrastructure projects: $3.03 billion for safe drinking water and water quality, $2.895 billion for watershed and fisheries improvements, $940 million for habitat protection, $855 million for improved water conveyance, $685 million for groundwater sustainability/storage, and $472 million for surface water storage/dam repairs. It appropriates money from General Fund to pay off bonds. Prop 3 requires certain projects to provide matching funds from non-state sources; gives priority to disadvantaged communities.
The Mercury News editorial said, “The $8.9 billion water bond package points to some serious water issues that demand the Legislature’s attention….The backers of Prop. 3 couldn’t get the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown to support the concept of another water measure when they floated the idea earlier this year. State officials knew that they had just gone to voters in June with Proposition 68, a $4.1 billion natural resources bond measure that included $1.5 billion for water projects….Going back to the well so soon was, and still is, asking too much.” The Sierra Club was critical of the measure for many of the same reasons but also concerned whether dams were a good idea anyway.
The Fresno Bee argued on the side of the Central Valley farmers. “$750 million would be devoted to repairing and restoring the Friant-Kern and Madera canals, key parts of the federal system that delivers water from Millerton Lake to Kern and Madera counties. Along the way, the canal provides supplies to Fresno, Orange Cove and Lindsay, as well as irrigation districts that serve much of the farmers on the Valley’s eastside. Last year the Friant Water Authority discovered that land had fallen by as much as two feet along the canal near Corcoran. That subsidence means only 40 percent of the water that some farmers have contracted for can actually be delivered. Money from Proposition 3 will allow the authority to repair subsidence damage and restore the canal’s gravity flow.”
It’s not just farmers who’d benefit. California is home to small towns whose residents are mostly low income, who don’t have clean drinking water. Twenty years post-Erin Brockovich, hundreds of thousands of Californians still have unsafe drinking water.
In a perfect world, this would have been solved at the legislature. There is not yet a consensus regarding how beneficial or harmful this bill would be to the environment. The Sierra Club says its a giveaway to large corporations like pistachio farmers. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Bay Area Water Restoration Board are on record supporting it. And here’s a reminder from PPIC that bonds are only one part of the challenge for finding funding for California's future water security. This stuff is hard! With mixed opinions, most of us are erring on the side of funding infrastructure and voting yes. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Prop 4: $1.5B Bond for Children’s Hospitals: YES
It’s a bond for expanding children’s hospitals. How can you not support something like that, right? We kicked the tires on this one and think it’s legit. But if you want to dig into the details, keep reading. The only slightly weird thing about it is that it was put on the ballot by a signature drive by the California Children’s Hospital Association. But the plan for how they’ll use the $1.5 billion it will raise checks out:
- 72% ($1.08 billion) to seven nonprofit hospitals providing comprehensive services to high volumes of children eligible for governmental programs and children with special health needs eligible for California Children’s Services.
- 18% ($270 million) to the five University of California general acute hospitals with children’s hospitals: U.C. Davis, LA, Irvine, SF, and San Diego.
- 10% ($150 million) to public and private hospitals that provide pediatric services to children eligible for California Children’s Services.
The funds could be used for constructing, expanding, remodeling, renovating, furnishing, equipping, financing, or refinancing. Those types of one-time, long-term uses are appropriate for bond funding (i.e. taking out a loan), as opposed to ongoing uses like programs and salaries that shouldn’t be paid for with bonds.
Hospitals would submit applications for funding to the California Health Facilities Financing Authority. The CHFFA consists of state Treasurer, Controller, Director of Finance, and five appointees. CHFFA would decide how to award the funds. Criteria include how the grant would expand care, how much uncompensated care and care to vulnerable populations the hospital offers, and the readiness of the project. None of the hospitals could get more than 20% of the total funds for their category unless there are leftover funds after 2033.
This would be the third children’s hospital bond we’ve passed in the last 14 years: 2004 Prop 61 for $750M and 2008 Prop 3 for $980M. We say yes on Prop 4. Do it for the kids!
Prop 5: Expand Prop 13 for Property Owners: HELL NO
Prop 5 was brought to the ballot by the California Association of Realtors to “protect Prop 13 savings.” It removes the a number of restrictions that allow homeowners to transfer their property tax base to a “replacement residence” of greater value without increasing their property tax.
The Legislative Analyst’s Office found that schools and local governments would lose over $100 million in annual property taxes early on, growing to about $1 billion per year. There would also be similar increase in state costs to backfill the school property tax losses.
How does this work? A property tax primer from the Legislative Analyst’s Office:
- Local governments levy taxes on property owners (cities, schools, special districts) based on the value of their property.
- Each property owner’s annual property tax bill is equal to the taxable value of his or her property multiplied by the property tax rate (typically 1.1%). In the year a property is purchased (that part is key), its taxable value is its purchase price. Each year after that the property’s taxable value is adjusted for inflation by up to 2 percent. This continues until the property is sold and again is taxed at its purchase price.
- If you move, you will face increased property tax bills because the market value of most homes (what they could be sold for) grows faster than 2 percent annually. This means the taxable value of most homes is less than their market value. Because of this, when a homeowner buys a different home, the purchase price of the new home often exceeds the taxable value of the buyer’s prior home (even when the homes have similar market values). This leads to a higher property tax bill for the home buyer.
- There are special cases when homeowners can move to a different home without paying higher property taxes -- these apply to homeowners who are over 55 or severely disabled or whose property has been impacted by a natural disaster or contamination. When moving within the same county, an eligible homeowner can transfer the taxable value of his or her existing home to a different home if the market value of the new home is the same or less than the existing home. Also, a county government may allow eligible homeowners to transfer their taxable values to homes in the county from homes in different counties. Ten counties allow these transfers. Except in limited cases, homeowners who are over 55 or severely disabled can transfer their taxable value once in their lifetime.
So, Prop 5 throws the rules out the window. It makes it so that ALL homeowners over 55 can transfer their oh-so-low property tax rate to their new nicer bigger better anywhere in the state home and not pay a higher tax rate. If you buy a less expensive home, it reduces your tax rate. And, this strips the rules that say you can only do this once. It essentially expands Prop 13. Uggggh. We say HELL NO.
Prop 6: Eliminate Gas Tax: HELL NO
Republicans are hoping that Prop 6, which repeals the 12 cent per gallon gas tax created by the state legislature in 2017 to fund road and transit maintenance and rehabilitation projects, will draw voters to the polls in November. Is Prop 6 just a cynical ploy to help Republicans win close congressional contests this election? Maybe. Contributors to Prop 6 include House Republicans Paul Ryan (WI) and Steve Scalise (LA), who, we think it’s safe to say, don’t care at all about Californians’ taxes, but would like to keep Republican control of Congress. If that weren’t reason enough to vote against Prop 6, there’s also the fact that if Prop 6 passes, the state’s annual transportation revenues would decrease by $3 billion in the next year and by $5 billion by 2020-21, and this is at a time when California has a backlog of road and bridge repair projects costing $130 billion. Prop 6 would effectively kill high speed rail. There’s also the fact that Prop 6 not only repeals the gas tax, but also changes the California constitution so that the legislature can NEVER pass a gas tax without putting it on the ballot for voter approval. That’s a move that Republicans who want to starve the government may like, but it’s ultimately inefficient and restrictive. Streetsblog has a good article fact checking the Republicans’ arguments for repealing the gas tax. Seriously, if you like roads and transit, you gotta pay for this shit. Vote HELL NO on prop 6!
Prop 7: Eliminate Daylight Saving Time: YES
We’ll be honest, we didn’t think too hard about this at first. But the Daylight Saving Time debate at our endorsement meeting surprised the hell out of us! Our membership displayed a ton of opposition to the annual practice of setting the clock forward in Spring and back in Fall. Every state in the US observes daylight saving time (DST) except Hawaii, Arizona (minus the Navajo Nation in the northeastern part of the state), American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. Indiana was exempt before but began practicing daylight saving time in 2006.
Technically, Prop 7 doesn’t eliminate DST. It actually freezes it in place securing the best dawn and dusk times year round. Daylight saving time lasts for a total of 34 weeks (238 days) every year, about 65% of the entire year. The history of DST has been traced back to a 1784 essay by Benjamin Franklin, “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light”, claiming Parisians could save on candles by getting out of bed earlier in the morning, making use of the natural morning light instead. It began in 1918 in the US for the same official fuel saving reasons. Economist Severin Borenstein, professor of business at UC Berkeley, argues that “two excellent studies (here and here) have found essentially no impact on energy consumption. The real reason it is around is because of capitalism -- shopping. California adopted DST in 1949. Studies show DST has negatively affected public health by leading to more traffic accidents, workplace injuries and heart attacks. Teachers hella hate DST for the impacts on students. Voting yes on Prop 7 is the first step toward eliminating this outdated practice - since the change would also require federal approval. Yes on Prop 7.
Prop 8: Regulation of Kidney Dialysis Charges: YES
Prop 8 limits amounts outpatient kidney dialysis clinics may charge for patient care, capping profits at 15% over their direct spending on health services. It requires annual reporting to the state regarding clinic costs, patient charges, and revenue, and prohibits clinics from discriminating against patients based on the source of payment for care.
The LA Times said it best: “The worst maladies of the American healthcare system are related to corporate profits: The competition among insurance companies to avoid the sickest customers and extract the most money from the rest, and the rise of for-profit healthcare providers. In few fields do those factors come together as neatly as they do in the dialysis business. And a business it is — a terrifically profitable one. The two dominant for-profit dialysis firms, Denver-based DaVita and German-owned Fresenius, report pretax operating profits in the billions and margins of 18% to 19%.”
Peeps at SEIU-UHW, the union behind the proposition, are bringing this forward on behalf of the clinic workers. One of the companies, DaVita, is actively union busting. Firefighters who support the measure report that they're getting a disproportionate number of calls from dialysis clinics because patients were passing out in parking lots after the clinics pushed them out too quickly post-dialysis. CalPERS agrees with the CA Legislative Analyst office in terms of savings. Vote yes on prop 8!
Prop 9: Stupid Vanity Prop to Divide CA in Thirds: KICKED OFF THE BALLOT!
The California Supreme Court ruled in July that this vanity prop dreamed up by an Atherton venture capitalist should be delayed until a future election due to the significant questions regarding the prop’s validity and potential harm in allowing it to remain on the ballot. Basically, he collected only enough signatures to qualify a regular ballot measure, but the court ruled this a constitutional amendment, which requires a lot more signatures. D'oh! So far, this dude has spent $6.4 million on this half-baked idea, so we anticipate he’ll try again. Anyhoo, we just wanted to make sure you knew we weren’t missing a number by leaving it off.
Prop 10: Repeal Costa Hawkins! Allow Expansion of Rent Control! HELL YES
This fulfils a tenant advocate dream: it repeals Costa-Hawkins, an awful 1995 law that severely constricts cities’ ability to expand or modernize rent control. Prop 10 doesn’t directly expand rent control - but it gives individual cities and counties the ability to do so. Tenant advocates have tried to reform or repeal Costa-Hawkins through the state legislature for years, but realtors and landlords have way more power than tenants in Sacramento, so that’s why this had to go to the ballot.
This SF Weekly story talks about what would be on the table if Prop 10 passes. Some highlights:
- Expand rent control to buildings built after 1979. Berkeley’s plan to implement rent control on a rolling basis 20 years after a building is built sounds solid to us.
- Implement “vacancy control” to limit how much landlords can raise the rent when tenants move out.
- Limit rent increases when master tenants leave. So scummy landlords can’t jack up the rent when a renter dies and their surviving spouse isn’t on the lease! Yeah, they do that. ☹️
Costa-Hawkins prevents us from doing any of that, which has allowed landlords to hugely jack up rents and displace thousands of our neighbors. Most California renters spend over 30% of their income on housing. For some, it’s worse than that: a third are forking over 50% of their pay to their landlords! Prop 10 is the first step to reign in the most absurd rent hikes from the greediest landlords.
In our City where home ownership grows farther out of reach for most us, our ability to remain San Franciscans depends on having stable rent. There’s really no policy alternative to rent control for promoting housing stability. And a recent USC study shows how housing stability promotes physical, social, and psychological wellness, as well as educational attainment for students.
As for all the scaremongering from opponents, we think their arguments range from overblown to flat-out bullshit. Let’s talk about the economists, shall we?
Are you concerned with what economists say about rent control?
Unfortunately, lots of economists like to hate on rent control. Let’s take a look.
Argument #1: Economists say if we remove restrictions on rents and housing construction, the efficiencies of the free market will eventually make housing more affordable. They acknowledge our housing crisis, but say expanding rent control will discourage developers from building more housing, because it might not be as profitable. Sooo they’re saying the way to lower housing costs is to make sure developers and landlords can raise rents as much as possible?! Maaaybe that would work out over a 30-50 year timeframe, if you let developers and landlords maximize their profits, they’d eventually build enough housing that rents would come down. But we doubt it: as soon as their financiers see that rents are stabilizing or dropping, they’ll stop funding new construction and invest in something else. Meanwhile, another generation or two of working class folks will be displaced by skyrocketing rent increases.
Economists studied what happened when Cambridge, MA repealed rent control in 1995. This City Watch LA article links to a lot of that research. Tl;dr it wasn’t good. While new construction increased some, rents skyrocketed--in both previously regulated and unregulated units--evictions increased by 33% and 40% of residents in previously rent controlled units moved out.
The reality is that out-of-control rents in urban California are making landlords rich and prompting developers to build as much housing as they can. Nobody is proposing that rent control should apply to newly constructed buildings--instead the debate is how long to wait for it to kick in: 20 years? 30 years? There are much bigger factors that determine if housing developments pencil out: the skyrocketing costs of materials and labor, zoning restrictions on where and how much housing can be built, and how much affordable housing they’re required to build. The effects of rent control is decimal dust compared to all of that.
Argument #2: Economists say rent control encourages landlords to convert rental units to condos or tenancies-in-common. A recent Stanford study of rent control in SF said this was the most damaging part of rent control, because it led to a 15% decrease in the supply of rental housing. But let’s think about that. Rent control is a policy to stop speculators from making housing too expensive. Condo conversion is a way speculators profit by getting around rent control. If our policy goal is to keep housing affordable, the solution is NOT to throw out rent control because there are loopholes. The solution is to plug the loopholes! And that’s exactly what tenant advocates in San Francisco have done over the past two decades, limiting the ability to convert units to condos or to demolish, merger, or convert existing housing.
Similarly, opponents argue that rent control motivates landlords to keep units off the market. When studios in SF start around $2K/month, we don’t understand why anyone would keep a unit off the market. They’re friggin’ goldmines! But if that is still a widespread problem, again the solution isn’t to get rid of rent control. Let’s try educating landlords, and if that doesn’t work, let’s tax or regulate vacant units.
Argument #3: Rent control should be means tested. “Means testing” means rent control should apply only to low-income tenants. But if we did that, it would create huge incentives for landlords to evict and/or not rent to low-income tenants so that they could charge higher rents. As the Haas Institute study puts it, “there is no more reason to limit the benefits of rent control to the lowest-income tenants than there is to limit the benefits of public utility regulation to only the lowest-income users of electricity and water.” The lack of means testing also increases the overall economic benefit of rent control: by limiting rent increases on middle and upper class tenants, it puts more money in their pockets to spend on other stuff instead of lining the pockets of their landlords. Economics!
We appreciate the value economic brings in analyzing public policy challenges, but just a reminder that economics is not a hard science—it’s a social science that has been shown to be subject to bias. And we know that expanding rent control isn’t a magic wand that will solve the housing crisis. Of course we need to build a lot more housing. But rent control is a crucial tool for providing stability in our housing, and it’s a key piece of creating a society where housing is less of an investment and more of a human right.
Not convinced? Want to geek out some more? Okay, dig away:
- Presentation from Sasha Perigo to YIMBY Action on Prop 10
- U.C. Berkeley Haas Institute: Opening the Door to Rent Control
- USC Study: What Are the Impacts of Rent Control?
- U.C. Berkeley economist: The Case for Preserving Costa-Hawkins
- Stanford: The Effects of Rent Control Expansion on Tenants, Landlords, and Inequality
- CalMatters Podcast: contrasting views on rent control
Prop 11: Require Private Ambulances to Remain on Call During Work Breaks: NO
Prop 11 allows private ambulance companies to keep emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics on duty during their meal and rest breaks in order to respond to 911 calls. It was put on the ballot by a private ambulance company, American Medical Response (AMR).
This all started back in 2012 when EMTs in San Diego filed a class-action lawsuit, Bartoni vs. American Medical Response West, for missed meals and uncompensated interrupted breaks. The court initially denied the class action designation, but later reversed that section in light of the 2016 Augustus vs. ABM Security Services California Supreme Court ruling. The Augustus decision stated that employers must relieve their employees of all work-related duties and employer control during rest periods.
Jason Brollini, executive director of United EMS Workers/AFSCME Local 4911, admitted at a legislative hearing that, ”...the Augustus ruling is very difficult, if not impossible to apply to our sector. It leads to safety issues and response issues and we agree with that.” There was an effort to come to an agreement with a legislative solution with AB263, but talks between labor and ambulance providers broke down earlier this year over two key points: whether the interruptions could include less serious calls and whether the legislation should void the pending lawsuits against American Medical Response.
The Bartoni case is still pending. AMR is potentially looking at a settlement of over $100 million, but if Prop 11 passes, the stipulation that paramedics and EMTs are exempt from state law meal break requirements gets grandfathered in, and all they lose is the money they sunk into passing this proposition.
It’s whack for ambulance companies to spend millions on this ballot measure to bypass workers and state law. Vote no on prop 11!
Prop 12: New Standards for Confinement of Farm Animals: YES
Back in 2008 voters approved a Proposition to reduce the most egregious factory farming. It said that “breeding pigs” (so females of breeding age, excludes all males and young pigs), veal calves, and egg hens needed to have enough space to turn around, spread their wings, etc. That didn’t take effect till 2015 (and egg prices did go up then as a consequence, though they’ve lowered since).
This prop basically takes that to the next step. For hens it increases the amount of space slightly (from 116 square inches, more or less, to 144, one square foot), and slowly phases in a set of guidelines requiring egg-laying hens to be kept in a “cage free” environment. And it slowly phases in what are basically cage-free environments for breeding pigs and veal calves. It doesn’t cover older cows or other animals.
Enforcement of standards in this field is lacking, and will remain so. While the prop does authorize the CA Dept of Agriculture to enforce this, logistics means that constantly checking all the relevant farms would be nearly impossible. But presumably Prop 12 will cause a slow transition as law-abiding farmers start to comply and farms upgrade or build new equipment in compliance with the new standards.
Prop 12 will probably raise the cost of meat and eggs, but kicks in slowly to give consumers and farmers a chance to adjust. This is one of those issues on which CA can lead the nation, since standards like this tend to spread, and companies want to streamline their operations and sell across borders. A big egg farm in the Midwest that sells eggs in CA, for instance, would have to comply with this.
PETA opposes this for some weird reason, but Humane Society is supporting. Overall, while we’re hesitant to increase food costs, better conditions for animals also leads to healthier food. We support Prop 12.
UPDATE: Shout out to the Leaguer who emailed PETA directly to ask why they opposed Prop 12. They say: "As you know, PETA works to end the use of animals for food and encourages everyone to go vegan—but in addition to that, we've pushed for and supported incremental changes to lessen farmed animals' suffering. We see Prop 12, however, as a dangerous step in the wrong direction....While Prop 12 would ultimately abolish cages, it would also allow tens of thousands of hens to be confined to massive sheds with no more than 1 square foot of space per bird."
San Francisco Propositions
Prop A: $425M Bond to Start Rebuilding the Seawall: YES
This initiative is critically important to prevent loss of life and protect historic areas from earthquake and flooding due to sea level rise. The 100-year-old seawall covers 3 miles and needs major reconstruction in order to protect utility networks, BART, MUNI, and the launching area for ferries. In case of disaster, boats and ferries would have to be able to launch and dock here. The danger from earthquake, liquefaction and flooding affects Fisherman’s Wharf, AT&T Park, Third Street, and Bayview/Hunters Point. If there’s an earthquake at high tide with a surge, BART could be flooded and closed for multiple years. Looking at the storm devastation on the East Coast, we need to be prepared sooner instead of later.
Ultimately this needs to be a $5 billion dollar project, but will only help if we complete it before the major earthquake that is predicted within the next 30 years. Prop A is only the first stage: it would raise $425 million from property owners and tenants to handle the most critical projects, and generate matching funds from state and federal sources for more scratch.
While we support it because of the urgency of the need, there are a couple problems with the bond. First, the Tenants Union opposes it because landlords will be able to pass on 50% of this increase in property tax to renters. Those passthroughs tend to be pretty small, but we agree on the principle that landlords who have seen their property values skyrocket should be able to handle a small bump in their taxes.
Second, at some point during the process of writing the Prop, protection of Bayview/Hunters Point got taken out of the proposal, so it only covers as far as AT&T park. On top of the radioactive shipyard, BVHP has already been hit with enough environmental racism, so failing to protect the district’s seawall is an added insult. We’ll be watching to be sure the next bond phase includes our BVHP neighbors. Yes on Prop A.
Prop B: Privacy First Policy: YES
Screw mass surveillance and surveillance capitalism! It’s about time we put some controls on the collection and commodification of our personal data. If passed, Proposition B would be an important first step towards crafting much-needed privacy protections for SF residents and visitors. Just to be clear, Proposition B doesn’t establish specific data protection ordinances (city officials have until May 31, 2019 to develop those), but it establishes Privacy First principles for the city to follow when developing such policies. These principles include allowing individuals to access the personal information collected about them, providing individuals with a way to correct data inaccuracies, and allowing individuals to move through the city without their location being tracked. Importantly, the Privacy First Policy would not only apply to all city departments, but also to any company that does business with the city.
There’s one tricky piece of this - it allows the Board of Supervisors to make changes to the City’s government transparency law, the Sunshine Ordinance, which was passed by voters back in 1999. Currently, since it was passed by voters, it can only be altered by proposition, and Prop B changes that. Some sunshine advocates have asked for this ability to make it easier to modify the Sunshine ordinance without having to go to the ballot. (For example, one seat on the Sunshine Taskforce needs to be nominated by New America Media, but that group is now defunct! Currently the only way to change that would be through a ballot measure.) Prop B says any modifications to the Sunshine Ordinance must be consistent with its intent and purpose, which are pretty clearly defined.
Some open government advocates are concerned that the Board of Supervisors could use this provision to water down the Sunshine Ordinance. The City Attorney has said he won’t sign off on anything that isn’t consistent with the ordinance’s purpose linked above. We wouldn’t put it past some shady future Supervisors to try to weaken our open government laws. But here’s the thing: enforcement of the Sunshine Ordinance is so spotty, politicians don’t need to weaken it to get around it. Mayor London Breed has repeatedly flouted the Sunshine Ordinance with zero consequences! This is a great example of how you can’t legislate future political will. We support updating and enforcing our open government laws, and we’ll keep an eye on any proposals to modify them.
Overall, we think Prop B is a good, if modest and mostly symbolic, first step towards getting serious about privacy in this era where corporations are trying to monetize our data.
Prop C: “Our City, Our Home!” Tax Big Businesses to Fund Homeless Housing and Services: HELL YES!
This proposition is stunningly progressive and spectacularly needed. It’s a small tax on corporations that will dramatically improve the lives of homeless San Franciscans.
The City has approximately 7,500 homeless residents on any given day, half of those unsheltered. That’s according to the Point-In-Time Count, which homeless advocates say vastly underestimates the total unhoused population. Over 20,000 San Franciscans experience homelessness a year. There are only about 1,300 adult shelter beds - with a huge waiting list for 90-day beds.
Prop C will address this by raising $300 million annually. Half of that will build and acquire permanent housing, a quarter will go to mental health and substance abuse treatment, and the last fourth goes to homelessness prevention, temporary shelters, and hygiene centers. Prop C funds the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing’s ambitious goals outlined in their five year strategic framework. It would house 4,000 households, prioritizing families with children, youth, and our most impaired homeless residents.
Prop C only applies to corporations earning more than $50 million a year, and it doesn’t touch that first $50 million. Above that, Prop C taxes them about half a penny per dollar, depending on the kind of business. Gross receipts are calculated by industry. The tax doesn’t affect most businesses, and retail stores get the lowest rate, so don’t let anyone scare you with B.S. that Prop C will make corner stores flee the City. It’s gonna take this kind of bold legislation to move the dial on homelessness.
The opposition is spewing a lot of schlock about how much SF currently spends on homelessness. Let’s crunch the real numbers.
In the SF Chronicle, Jeff Kositsky, director of San Francisco’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, provided a breakdown of how the City spends its budget of $300 million:
“Last year, two-thirds went to people who aren’t homeless at all. That’s the amount spent on rental subsidies, eviction prevention and permanent supportive housing [services aimed at preventing people from becoming homeless or to house the formerly homeless]...Take away 11 percent for administrative costs and one-time capital spending, and you’re left with 17.6 percent spent on temporary shelters, 3.2 percent on street outreach and 2.2 percent on health services. That means about $57 million was spent on the visible homeless population, the group of people we see every day who so clearly need help…” Over the course of a year, 20,000 people will be homeless in San Francisco, Kositsky said, adding that 5,000 of those won’t use city services because they figure out their own housing arrangements or are just passing through. “But divide $57 million by 15,000 homeless people who need city help each year, and you see the city spends $3,800 per person per year. Or $10.41 a day.”
In a September 26th report from the Controller’s Office, the City’s Chief Economist, Ted Egan, dispelled myths about the legislation noting there was little fiscal impact on the City’s job market and overall economy.
Joe Eskenazi of Mission Local gave an excellent analogy. “...The report noted that Proposition C’s ‘impacts are small in the context of the city’s job market and economy, equal to a 0.1% difference, on average, over 20 years.’ ...To give you an idea of how small a number 0.1 percent is, it’s one-quarter the percentage of real butter in Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup. To give you an idea of how many jobs Egan believes are going to be vanquished by Prop. C, if the city would have created 1,000 jobs in a Prop. C-free environment, the report predicts Prop. C will result in the creation of a mere 999.”
The Examiner noted Egan’s further comments, “While the tax savings to San Francisco businesses are difficult to estimate and apportion to the city, it is likely that the 14 percent income tax cut would outweigh the proposed 0.5 percent gross receipts tax increase for the majority of the 300-400 affected businesses.”
Prop C has created an unlikely alliance of tech titans, celebrities, community activists, and housing advocates all throwing down and dispelling the myths that the Chamber of Commerce, London Breed, Scott Wiener, David Chiu, and Gavin Newsom are peddling. The League says HELL YES on Prop C!
Prop D: Two for One! Tax on Cannabis and on Non-SF Companies that Sell Stuff Here: YES
Prop D includes two separate taxes:
- A tax on gross receipts from cannabis that doesn’t go into effect until 2021.
- An “Amazon tax”* on corporations who sell stuff to people in SF but don’t have physical locations here. That part goes into effect in 2019.
We adore the “Amazon tax.” It’s incredibly unfair to local businesses that online retailers don’t have to pay taxes. The Supreme Court’s recent “Wayfair” decision opened the door to this, and we’re amped.
The cannabis tax is trickier, because that industry is still adjusting to the legal landscape. But we like that the implementation is delayed and that the Board of Supes can adjust it. We plan to keep an eye on that part as we get closer to that 2021 phase-in, but the “Amazon tax” makes us excited to vote Yes on D.
*Amazon actually already pays taxes here, but this is the easiest way we’ve found to explain it. 🤣
Prop E: Restore the Hotel Tax Allocation for Arts and Culture: YES
Right now, the City imposes a hotel tax on the operation of hotels in San Francisco. It consists of an 8% base tax and an additional 6% tax surcharge on hotel room rentals. The Allocation of Hotel Tax Funds measure in the November 2016 election, Prop S, would have allocated funds from the existing SF Hotel Tax to be used to fund arts and cultural programs, as well as services for homeless families, but it didn’t pass - it got a majority but just barely failed to clear the 66.67% threshold.
After Prop S failed, the contingents working on funding for the arts and those working to fund homeless services split off to develop two complementary measures for the 2018 election, which we are now voting on as Prop C and Prop E. This one, Prop E, would require 1.5% of the 8% base tax to be allocated to the arts and cultural causes as specified in the bill, with the remaining 6.5% to continue going toward the general fund. The allocation as specified by the text of this measure would be split between non-profit cultural organizations, the SF Arts Commission, and the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development for use by Cultural Districts. We talk about San Francisco as a city of artists, but we need to support arts communities with actual funding as it becomes more and more difficult for artists to stay here. We appreciate that some of the money will be used to fund cultural districts, which help preserve unique communities in San Francisco. Yes on E.
San Francisco Offices
Assessor-Recorder: Paul Bellar (candidate questionnaires)
Assessor-Recorder is not the sexiest of offices. In 2014, the incumbent, Carmen Chu, ran unopposed, but this year, Paul Bellar stepped up. He’s a rad tax geek with a passion for this obscure bureaucratic position. What is this obscure bureaucratic position, you ask?
The Assessor-Recorder is responsible for assessing property taxes. San Francisco’s skyline is dotted with cranes. There is construction everywhere. The Assessor should be right there, ready to get the City its fair share, but instead there’s a huge backlog of assessable new construction. Tall Paul’s goal [he really is friggin’ tall] is to move away from the taxes-only model and push the office to dig deeper into understanding San Francisco’s housing landscape - just what exactly are we taxing? And, in a Prop 13 constrained world, how can SF collect what’s due?
In a damning 2015 civil grand jury report entitled “Office of the Assessor-Recorder: Despite Progress, Still The Lowest Rated Office in the State” (ouch) the Office was called out for their inefficiency, which has led to “delays in the receipt of General Fund monies, a loss of interest revenue for the County, and is a burden on taxpayers who might have to pay several years of back property tax at once.” The report said the Office needed to “work with DBI in a more efficient manner.” That’s where Bellar says the rub is. The Office of Assessor-Recorder isn’t working with the Department of Building Inspections to collect the stats on the housing they’re taxing. They need the ‘what’ in the what/how/collect steps of collecting taxes. One egregious example is relying on developers’ honesty to determine the tax rate of units under construction instead of having the City calculate it in the cost manual.
This shit is complicated, and the fix is in for a City Family-backed candidate, but we’re throwing our support behind Paul Bellar and you should too.
The incumbent, Carmen Chu, appears to be smart and competent. She seems to be doing a good job of modernizing the Assessor-Recorder's office and has improved their collection of real estate transfer taxes. But we prefer Bellar's vision for a more expansive and active Assessor-Recorder. Also, we can't forget that when Chu was on the Board of Supervisors, she regularly voted against our interests, and she's been rumored as a potential future Mayoral candidate for Team Big Money.
Public Defender: Jeff Adachi
Adachi is a kick ass Public Defender. His office successfully defended Jose Ines Garcia Zarate in a case that drew national attention. Despite enormous and deserved public sympathy for the victim, Kate Steinle, and widespread condemnation of Zarate, who is undocumented, SF’s Public Defender’s office (led by Chief Attorney and progressive heartthrob Matt Gonzalez) won an acquittal on all murder charges in what was clearly a tragic accidental death caused by Zarate, not a murder. What better way to say Fuck You to Donald Trump’s xenophobic immigration pogroms than to ensure the rule of law and justice for the indigent, regardless of immigration status? That’s what Adachi is all about- upholding the motherfucking constitution.
San Francisco is the only county in California that elects our Public Defender. This independence from appointment means that Adachi is free to piss people off. For example, his endorsement of London Breed for Mayor baffled us, and his pension reform legislation from 2011 which saw him buddy up with union-hating venture capitalists angered many union allies. But Jeff’s heart is in the right place. On his watch the PD’s office has become a powerhouse of badasses, fighting the Trump administration on immigration and providing constitutionally-required defense for all San Franciscans, regardless of income. Adachi has been a strong proponent of bail reform and for the need to address racial disparities in arrests and sentencing. Also, he’s running unopposed. We’re happy to endorse Jeff Adachi for Public Defender.
Board of Supervisors, District 2: No Endorsement (candidate questionnaires)
District 2 includes the Marina, Cow Hollow, Presidio, Pacific Heights, Sea Cliff. The leading contenders are appointed Supervisor Catherine Stefani and BART Board Commissioner Nick Josefowitz.
Catherine Stefani was previously an aide to District 2 Supervisors Mark Farrell and Michela Alioto-Pier. Despite working for those politicians who we’ve hella opposed, our allies who worked with Stefani says she’s good people, and at least treated people well even when her bosses disagreed with them. Stefani led the local chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, and she was the brains behind all of Farrell’s anti-gun legislation. (Thanks for chasing the last gun store outta town!) We also appreciate that she was one of only two politicians who withdrew her endorsement of Josephine Zhao in the wake of her transphobic comments. Having lived in and worked for District 2 for a long time, she probably knows the district better than any of the other candidates and would probably represent its residents well. Unfortunately, every single SF election shows D2 is dominated by conservative voters who don’t share our values. :/
In her short time on the Board, Stefani has been one of the strongest allies of the Police Officers Association and supported June’s Prop H, the POA’s awful ballot measure to loosen restrictions on tasers. The fact that she doesn’t see the nexus between gun violence and the POA’s advocacy for less restrictions on police violence is upsetting. She also spoke against Prop C, Our City Our Home, and in her response to our questionnaire, she didn’t take positions on most of the important ballot measures we asked about. Womp, womp.
One thing you can’t deny about Nick Josefowitz: dude really really wants to be District 2 Supervisor. Before Farrell became interim Mayor and appointed Stefani, Josefowitz was concerned that former D2 Supe Michela Alioto-Pier would run again. So he dropped $400K trying to put a proposition on the June ballot to block her by changing the City’s term limit rules. (That effort failed, and the signature gathering firm says he stiffed them $20K.) Then after Stefani was appointed, he went to court to try to move this election from November to June to give Stefani less time to campaign. Talk about putting his fragile masculinity front and center!
Josefowitz is currently on the BART Board of Directors, and we made the tough call of not endorsing him back then when he was running against SF’s last elected Republican! Here’s what we said then:
He wants to prioritize pedestrian and bike infrastructure around BART stations, run more frequent trains, upgrade cars and systems to improve efficiency and develop land owned by BART to help increase housing. But…. he’s not a supporter of the Anti-Speculation tax, he helped Mayor Lee bury CleanPowerSF when he was a Commissioner for the Dept of the Environment, and he rubber-stamped the Tech Bus Pilot without questioning the environmental impact.
We do appreciate that he’s been a strong advocate for bikes and transit. On his questionnaire, he told us his first priority would be to add 3,000 more homeless shelter beds, but like Stefani, he’s not supporting Prop C! Both of these candidates seem out of touch with the inequality issues facing SF.
John Dennis is a Republican whose top priority is “ending vagrancy in District 2.” He disagrees with us on almost every question on our questionnaire. Next.
Schuyler Hudak didn’t answer our questionnaire. She’s a media start-up founder with a history in politics working for Gavin Newsom and Jerry Brown. We appreciate that she’s the only D2 candidate supporting Prop 10, but we haven’t seen enough from her to endorse her without knowing her positions on our priorities. No endorsement.
Board of Supervisors, District 4: Gordon Mar (candidate questionnaires)
District 4 covers the Sunset neighborhood. D4 has had a string of Supervisors appointed by the Mayor. The district hasn’t had an “open seat” election in 12 friggin years! When Edmund Jew went to jail in 2007, Gavin Newsom appointed Carmen Chu from his budget office. Then in 2013, Ed Lee appointed Chu to become Assessor-Recorder, and appointed Katy Tang (Chu’s aide) to become D4 Supervisor! This year, Tang shocked the City by announcing she wouldn’t run for re-election the evening before the filing deadline and endorsing her aide, Jessica Ho, to be her successor. We disagree with Tang’s pick of Ho to succeed her (and a lot of her votes), but we do appreciate her breaking the cycle of appointments and giving D4 their first open seat election since 2006.
Gordon Mar co-founded and is currently the Executive Director of Jobs with Justice SF where he was instrumental in many of the most important progressive accomplishments of the last decade: the Retail Workers Bill of Rights, Free City College, the minimum wage ordinance, and racial justice in collective bargaining. He’s devoted his career to building grassroots coalitions and fighting for workers, immigrants, and the environment. Because of Gordon, San Francisco’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement is a national model of how cities can work with different communities in different languages to enforce employment laws and protect workers. In his background leading the Chinese Progressive Association and Northern California Citizenship Project, Gordon focused on building leaders for decades to come. In the Excelsior, he worked to build a Latino/Chinese coalition fighting for better air quality and environmental justice up against Shell Oil.
The Sunset doesn’t need a slick politician grasping for power - they deserve an independent Supervisor not driven by ego and accountable to affected communities. The Sunset needs a progressive champion. Vote Gordon Mar!
Gordon’s two major opponents are Jessica Ho and Trevor McNeil. Long story short, they’re both endorsed by the Republican-loving, reform-hating, racist Police Officers Association, but let’s check them out….
Jessica Ho is supported by many of the City’s moderate-to-conservative leaders like Scott Wiener, Katy Tang, Ahsha Safai, and Angela Alioto. We are shocked to see them backing someone with so little experience. She moved to the City this year, and worked as a legislative aide for Tang for just three months! She previously worked for an LA County Supervisor and for the Department of Social Services in Sacramento, but her lack of San Francisco experience is concerning. She didn’t have the voting history or legislative knowledge to answer the bulk of our questionnaire, but what we do know about her positions is pretty concerning. On two bellwether issues, she’s against vacancy control and continues to support transphobic School Board candidate Josephine Zhao. Her response to the Bike Coalition’s questionnaire show a clear car-centric bias in her transportation policy. She also flip-flopped on whether or not she supports Alioto’s awful measure to weaken our Sanctuary City policy. How is that even a question?!? She’s pouring a shit ton of money into ads on CNN, and a corporate-funded PAC is also pouring money into supporting her. Man, the Sunset isn’t for sale, Jessica. Interestingly, Mayor Breed hedged her bets on October 12 by endorsing McNeil #2. Seems like folks might be losing confidence in Ho.
Trevor McNeil looks a lot like Jessica Ho on the issues. They support and are supported by many of the same politicians. When he ran for School Board in 2016, he said he wanted to “bring back advanced math and other courses that challenge all our students,’ referring to the math sequence and gifted programs that SFUSD have shown to be racially segregating. We appreciate his perspective as a middle school teacher and a father in the Sunset. As a former member of the Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee, he’s good on pedestrian, bike, and transit issues. But his record on the SF Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC) showed he was firmly aligned with the conservative wing of our local Dems. He voted against regulating AirBnb, voted against police reform, and gladly accepted huge slushy donations from Republican socialite Dede Wilsey. Ugh. No.
Mike Murphy is an activist with the Green Party, SF Watershed Protection Alliance, and Surfrider Foundation who teaches eco-literacy to Pre-K, through elementary-age SFUSD students. He’s been an ally on a number of campaigns we’ve been involved, his responses to our questionnaire show he shares our values, and our friends at the SF Berniecrats gave him their #2 endorsement. But we haven’t seen signs that he’s organizing the type of serious campaign it takes to have an impact on this election.
Adam Kim is a member of the SF Berniecrats and received their #3 endorsement. Like Murphy, his responses to our questionnaire show he shares our values, but we haven’t seen signs that he’s organizing the type of serious campaign it takes to have an impact on this election.
Board of Supervisors, District 6: Matt Haney (candidate questionnaires)
Matt Haney is the type of super-accomplished dude who makes you question why you haven’t accomplished more with your life. He has a law degree and two Masters (Education and Human Rights). He’s a tenants lawyer by day and School Board member by night. Previously he organized students as the E.D. of the University of California Students Association, and he worked with Van Jones at Dream Corps on criminal justice reform and empowering underprivileged youth for 21st century futures. And he’s only 35!
Something else you notice about Matt is his endorsements. The progressive leaders we trust are united behind him. But so are Kamala Harris, Gavin Newsom, Van Jones, Betty Yee, Fiona Ma, and Malia Cohen. Friggin Barack Obama endorsed him for School Board! Normally someone having that many high-powered endorsements is a red flag that they might not be willing to take tough stands that piss those bigwigs off. That was part of the reason why we didn’t endorse him the first time he ran.
But we see him out doing the work all the time. Every campaign season, he’s out hitting the streets with us for progressive campaigns. He’s also a regular at League meetings, and we appreciate how he doesn’t show up to lobby us one way or another and he listens more than he talks. Our folks who follow the School Board say he’s proven himself and has reliably stood on the right side of issues. He led reform of SFUSD’s policy on suspensions that disproportionately affect black and brown youth--reforms that Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed repeatedly. He also pushed for expanding the Safe Routes to School program to help families find sustainable transportation options for getting to school.
Matt’s one of the few School Board members who’s ever visited every single school site in the City! That’s some serious dedication. And he’s shown that same dedication on the campaign trail for the Board of the Supes, hitting the streets and knocking on doors every day. Being a Supervisor is a tough job, and we need someone with the work ethic and dedication to get up early and work late. We’re confident Matt’s ready to make that commitment. Vote Haney!
Christine Johnson’s campaign seems to be a paper tiger--relying on endorsements from moderate/conservative politicians and a ton of shady money, but not a lot of people power or community endorsements. We don’t think she’s bad or evil. She seems like a policy wonk after our own hearts. She’s an engineer who has worked in finance, and served on a bunch of commissions. She’s smart, and would probably be good on a lot of issues. We respect her for withdrawing her endorsement of Josephine Zhao in the wake of Zhao’s transphobic nonsense.
Her strongest experience and public record comes from her time as a Mayoral appointee to the Planning Commission. That’s also where her biggest red flag comes from: she literally changed her vote on enforceable AirBnB regulations after the Mayor’s office texted her freaking out about it. (Update: check out the video of how she changed her vote without explanation.) For us, that’s disqualifying. She didn’t answer our questionnaire, so we don’t know her positions on a lot of things we care about, but she came out against Prop 10, which is also a dealbreaker for us. And she’s also supported by tons of people we don’t trust like the Police Officers Association and Republican socialite Dede Wilsey.
Although her campaign has the least momentum, the endorsement by London Breed and the recent air-tight alliance with Sonja Trauss may boost her status a bit. She served on the Hunter’s Point Shipyard Community Advisory Committee. We’re concerned she may be looking after the interests of the corporations that will profit from development there. The Police Officers’ Association (POA) has endorsed Trauss & Johnson. No surprise there, but it’s a major red flag when anyone accepts the endorsement of the Republican-loving, reform-hating, racist POA. In addition, Progress SF, the independent expenditure funded by tech investor Ron Conway that propelled London Breed into office, have dropped $250,000 and counting into an effort to support Trauss/Johnson.
Sonja Trauss catapulted to international fame through her work organizing BARF (Bay Area Renters Federation) whose unfortunate name gave way to the YIMBY (Yes In My Back Yard) network, which has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from tech CEOs investing in politics statewide. Our members have some differing opinions on her. We understand why people are inspired by her focus on the need for San Francisco, California, and the world to build a ton more housing. (See our opinion on the housing crisis here.) Some of us think Trauss authentically believes that building more market-rate housing will benefit low-income communities. Some of us are suspicious of her funding from realtors and tech companies and alignment with moderates and conservatives with questionable housing records.
We’ve talked about how we’d like to see progressives and YIMBYs work together on an equitable and compassionate approach to building a lot of housing. But despite our internal difference of opinions on Trauss’s motivation, we’re all troubled by the divisiveness of her approach. Specifically, her history of offending low-income residents and communities of color and failing to acknowledge or apologize for her actions is a dealbreaker. At a Board of Supervisors hearing she compared Mission activists who were concerned about new market-rate condos contributing to gentrification and displacement to the nativism of people who don’t want immigrants in the U.S. She also helped organize a YIMBY counter-rally against community activists protections in Scott Wiener’s SB 827 upzoning legislation - participants literally shouted down neighborhood speakers and sheriffs had to remove Sonja after she busted into a crowd of peaceful seniors!. This video shows an elderly Asian-American man moves away from her after she waves her sign into the crowd. That is some messed up behavior for someone seeking elected office.
We’re ready to work with YIMBYs to advocate for more housing, but only in ways that prioritize, protect, and respect our most vulnerable communities. Trauss fails to show that commitment, and we’re seriously disappointed that so many YIMBYs are willing to overlook that.
Let’s keep D6 a progressive bastion in a progressive City and elect Matt Haney!
Board of Supervisors, District 8: Rafael Mandelman (candidate questionnaires)
Rafael Mandelman was only just elected in June, but due to the awkward timing of appointments and the regular election, he’s gotta defend his seat this November. Luckily, he’s running virtually unopposed. Rafael is a longtime League ally, and has kept his promise to work with both moderates and progressives on the Board of Supervisors. We’re watching him on some of the more controversial positions that are sure to divide the Board this year. For example, we’re hoping his views on conservatorship are influenced by people we trust in the harm reduction and mental health treatment communities.
Here’s what we said in June when he was Trustee on the Community College Board:
Rafael’s personal story is so compelling. His mother struggled with mental illness and was homeless for most of his childhood. He moved to San Francisco when he was 11 to live with his grandmother, and then later families and teachers. These personal challenges have led him to support homeless and food-insecure students at City College, such as creating a food pantry and support system to help house homeless students.
Rafi’s career has been focused on helping cities and nonprofits build affordable housing. He also has tons of experience — as a commissioner on the Board of Appeals, working for a walkable and bikeable city on the board of Livable City, as a Deputy City Attorney in Oakland, and as the Chair of the LGBT Center.
Board of Supervisors, District 10: #1 Tony Kelly #2 Uzuri Pease-Greene (candidate questionnaires)
This is the third time we’ve endorsed Tony Kelly #1 for D10 - he just keeps on doing the work. Way back in 2010, we said this about him: “He has the deepest roots of any of the candidates. A white, middle-aged theater company owner who is endorsed by some of the baddest black activists in Bayview/Hunters Point (like Marie Harrison, Sharon Hewitt, and Espanola Jackson). He's been part of the fight to keep District 10 home to working class people for years, and he's ready to take that fight to City Hall.” Espanola and Grandma Sharon are no longer with us, but Tony is still keeping up the good fight. He ran a strong campaign in 2014, and with an open seat this time, he’s got a good chance of winning.
We are frustrated that Tony got into a heated exchange with Shamann Walton at an SF Examiner editorial meeting around race and this election. We want to express disappointment in Tony’s use of the phrase, "race card." Representation is real. We are thankful that Tony apologized. As a white man running to represent an historically African-American district, we know Tony understands the importance of showing up, hearing criticism, and proving that he's an ally District 10's communities can trust.
District 10 is the next big money battleground for new, large-scale developments in the City. It’s also home to the environmental catastrophe of the falsified cleanup of radiation at the Hunters Point shipyard, for which the City, Navy, EPA, and contractor Tetra Tech all seem to share responsibility. After generations of disinvestment and environmental racism, with developers licking their chops, D10 needs a champion like Tony!
#2 Uzuri Pease-Greene is a long-time community activist. She’s an inspiring leader who has experienced homelessness, gone through recovery, and now works as a community organizer for BRIDGE Housing on affordable housing projects, serves on the Police Chief’s advisory committee, and participates in tons of community building projects--and on top of that she’s a mother of eight and grandmother of thirteen!
We endorsed Shamann Walton for School Board, and by all accounts he’s been awesome since he was elected in 2014, standing up for equity and closing the opportunity gap. He has strong neighborhood ties as the head of Young Community Developers (YCD), a workforce development agency in Bayview-Hunters Point. A number of our members support him, but ultimately we are concerned about his willingness to stand up against the interests that will be pushing the next round of mega-developments in D10.
The Board of Supervisors is a very different job than the School Board, with much more pressure from lobbyists and big money. Shamann was one of the lead proponents of 2016’s Prop O, which exempted Lennar’s BVHP project from the City’s cap on office space development without providing any additional community benefits. He also wrote a letter of recommendation to Alameda County for Lennar (a developer with an appalling record of screwing over communities), based on the work YCD has done with them. Finally, his Ethics filings show lots of large contributions from businesses, real estate, political consultants, etc, many of them from outside of the district. We wish we could endorse him, but we can’t ignore the red flags.
Theo Ellington works for the Warriors, and led their community engagement process for their new Mission Bay arena. On our questionnaire, he left some key questions blank: Prop C--Our City Our Home, Supervisor Peskin’s tax on Uber and Lyft, and 2014’s Prop G anti-speculation tax. Failing to take stands on those types of strong progressive measures is a non-starter for us. Also, he got the sole endorsement of the Republican-loving, reform-hating, racist Police Officers Association.
THE ONLINE VOTER GUIDE IS COMING SOON! STAY TUNED!
The San Francisco League of Pissed Off Voters members voted to endorse the following candidates and props for the November 2018 election. Stay tuned for our full, unabridged Pissed Off Voter Guide with all of our analysis! And you can see the candidates' responses to our questionnaire here.
- Board of Supervisors, District 2: No Endorsement
- Board of Supervisors, District 4: Gordon Mar
- Board of Supervisors, District 6: Matt Haney
- Board of Supervisors, District 8: Rafael Mandelman
- Board of Supervisors, District 10: #1 Tony Kelly #2 Uzuri Pease-Greene
- Board of Education: Alison Collins, Gabriela Lopez, Faauuga Moliga
- Community College Board: Brigitte Davila, John Rizzo, Thea Selby
- Public Defender: Jeff Adachi
- Assessor-Recorder: Paul Bellar
- BART Board, District 8: Janice Li
- Prop A: $425M Bond to Rebuild the Seawall: YES
- Prop B: Privacy First Policy: YES
- Prop C: Our City Our Home! Tax Large Businesses to Fund Homeless Housing and Services: YES
- Prop D: Tax on Cannabis and on Non-SF Companies that Sell Stuff Here: YES
- Prop E: Restore the Hotel Tax Allocation for Arts and Culture: YES
- U.S. Senator: Kevin de León
- U.S. Congress, District 12: No Endorsement
- U.S. Congress, District 14: Jackie Speier
- Governor: No Endorsement
- Lieutenant Governor: Ed Hernandez
- Secretary of State: Alex Padilla
- Controller: Betty Yee
- State Treasurer: Fiona Ma
- Attorney General: Xavier Becerra
- Insurance Commissioner: Ricardo Lara
- State Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tony Thurmond
- Board of Equalization, District 2: Malia Cohen
- State Assembly, Districts 17: No Endorsement
- State Assembly, Districts 19: Phil Ting
- Prop 1: $4B Bond for Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond: YES
- Prop 2: Allow Previous Bond Money to Be Used for Homeless Housing: YES
- Prop 3: $8.9B Bond for Water Projects: YES
- Prop 4: $1.5B Bond for Children’s Hospitals: YES
- Prop 5: Expand Prop 13 for Property Owners: NO
- Prop 6: Eliminate Gas Tax: NO
- Prop 7: Eliminate Daylight Saving Time: YES
- Prop 8: Regulation of Kidney Dialysis Charges: YES
- Prop 9: Stupid Vanity Prop to Divide CA in Thirds: KICKED OFF THE BALLOT!
- Prop 10: Repeal Costa Hawkins! Allow Expansion of Rent Control! YES
- Prop 11: Require Private Ambulances to Remain on Call During Work Breaks: NO
- Prop 12: New Standards for Confinement of Farm Animals: YES
Where’s your polling place? Call 311, see SFelections.org, or vote in City Hall.
- June 2-3: Weekend voting in City Hall! 10am-4pm.
- June 4: Vote at City Hall, 8am-5pm.
- June 5: Election Day! Polls open 7am-8pm. If you're in line to vote by 8pm, they gotta let you!
Little Known Voting Facts:
- 16- and 17-year-olds can (almost) vote! You can pre-register and your registration will automatically be activated when you turn 18!
- Felons can vote! Even if you've committed a felony, you can vote as long as you’re off parole. Don’t let the Man disenfranchise you!
Slackers can vote: Election Day Voter Registration!
Did you miss the 5/21 deadline to register to vote? For the first time in California, you can still vote - register and vote at City Hall. You can’t use a normal polling place, but if you go to the basement of City Hall you can register and vote there! Go ahead, make history! Do it!
The League Endorsement Cheat Sheet
Board of Supervisors
District 8: Rafael Mandelman
Prop 68: $4B Bond for Parks, Drought Protection, Climate Adaption - Yes
Prop 69: Require Diesel Tax to Be Spent on Transportation Stuff - Yes
Prop 70: Give Republicans & Corporate Dems Power on Cap’n’Trade Funds - No
Prop 71: Delay Effective Date of Ballot Measures Until All Ballots Are Counted - Yes
Prop 72: Rainwater Capture Systems Won’t Trigger Property Tax Assessments - Yes
Regional Measure 3: Raise Bridge Tolls $3 Over 7 Years to Fund Transportation Projects - Yes
Prop A: Authorize Public Utilities Commission to Issue Clean Energy Bonds - Yes
Prop B: Commissioners with Conflicts Can’t Be Candidates - Yes
Prop C: Commercial Rent Tax for Child Care & Early Education For All - Hell Yes!
Prop D: Divisive Commercial Rent Tax for Too Little Housing - Disappointed No :(
Prop E: Uphold the Ban on Flavored Tobacco Products - Yes
Prop F: Right to Counsel for Tenants Facing Eviction! - Hell Yes!
Prop G: Parcel Tax to Give Teachers a Raise! - Hell Yes!
Prop H: Let Police Use Tasers on Nonviolent People?!? - Hell No!
Prop I: SF Shouldn't Steal Sports Teams from Other Cities - Sure ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Governor: Delaine Eastin
Lieutenant Governor: Gayle McLaughlin
Secretary of State: Alex Padilla
Controller: Betty Yee
Treasurer: Kevin Akin
Attorney General: Dave Jones or Xavier Becerra (Dual Endorsement)
Insurance Commissioner: Nathalie Hrizi
Board of Equalization, District 2: No Endorsement
State Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tony Thurmond
Like our voter guide?