Gay City College of San Francisco board member Rafael Mandelman Thursday became the first candidate to take on gay Supervisor Jeff Sheehy in the June 2018 election.
Mandelman, 43, said he took out election papers April 20 for the seat, which includes the Castro, Noe Valley, and Glen Park neighborhoods.
“I’m running because I believe that District 8 voters deserve a choice – democracy is at its best when it’s a contest of ideas,” Mandelman stated in a news release.
In a phone call, Mandelman told the Bay Area Reporter that his deciding to run was not about anything Sheehy has done during his first four months in office.
“It’s not really about Jeff,” Mandelman said. “I feel ready and I feel I’d be a good supervisor for District 8.”
Sheehy was appointed by Mayor Ed Lee in January to replace Scott Wiener, a gay man who served as District 8 supervisor until he was sworn in as a state senator.
In a news release, Mandelman, who ran unsuccessfully for the D8 seat in 2010, said he wanted to help people “trying to make it in San Francisco.”
“I learned that District 8 needs a supervisor who isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty, someone who’ll be out there in the neighborhoods doing the work,” he said, referring to his 2010 race.
Mandelman has served on the City College board for several years, including a stint as president. He’s been widely acknowledged for steering the 80-year-old institution through its recent accreditation crisis.
Mandelman said that his priorities as supervisor would be clearing encampments and getting mentally ill people off the streets and into care.
“For me, solving the homeless crisis in San Francisco is personal,” he stated.
Mandelman was 11 when his mother’s mental illness started her down a spiral that led to homelessness and repeated institutionalization. Mandelman became responsible for his own care and after college, fought to assume guardianship of his mother.
The Bay Area Reporter reached out to Sheehy for comment and will update this post when we hear back.
Sheehy, in a phone call Thursday afternoon, said he’s concentrating on the city’s next budget.
“I’m really focused on doing my job,” he said. “It’s budget season.”
Sheehy was in a budget committee meeting Thursday, where he said he wants to make sure backfills are added to things like HIV/AIDS services. (Sheehy is the first openly HIV-positive member of the board.)
And, Sheehy said, he wants to make sure there is funding for homeless services, especially for youth.
“The 2015 Point-in-Time count showed 1,600 homeless young people,” he said. “Forty-eight percent identified as LGBTQ and 13 percent identified as HIV-positive. I’m focused on getting resources for a comprehensive and compassionate response.”