November 5, 2019 Pissed Off Voter Guide

Voting Logistics:

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 HallDO 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.


November 2019:
Attack of the Appointed Incumbents!

City & County Offices

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

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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.

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:

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?

***sigh***

When the League evaluates long-shot candidates, we have some informal criteria we consider:

  1. Do they share our values?
  2. How hard is the candidate working? If they aren’t hustling as hard as we are on this election, do they deserve our endorsement?
  3. 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. 

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Board of Supervisors, District 5: Dean Preston

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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!

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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:

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! 

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District Attorney: Chesa Boudin

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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 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!

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Public Defender: Manohar Raju

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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!

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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: 

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.

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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.

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Community College Board: Ivy Lee

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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!

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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.

Lam responded:

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. 

The mural issue brought two reactionary candidates into the race, neither of whom is qualified or worth your vote. We hope Lam can earn our support next time, but for now it’s No Endorsement.

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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!

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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! 

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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!!!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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