Dufty makes SF mayoral bid official
by Matthew S. Bajko
Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who will be termed out of his District 8 seat in January 2011, will officially declare his candidacy to be San Francisco's next mayor when he pulls papers to enter the race this morning, Thursday, September 24. He is the first person to do so for an election that is more than two years away.
Dufty, 54, has made no secret of his desire to succeed Mayor Gavin Newsom, who will be termed out of office in January 2012. Should he be elected, Dufty would be the first openly gay person to be San Francisco's mayor.
"Having worked 16 years in city government I have a lot of experience in addressing the day-to-day needs of people in our city," Dufty told the Bay Area Reporter during an exclusive interview at his Lower Haight home Sunday, September 20. "I am excited about being a leader of city government and creating a dynamism and responsiveness that will make people proud of their city."
Even though the filing deadline is not until August 2011, Dufty said he saw no reason to wait any longer to make his bid official.
"I am not a coy person. Rather than speculate on it, I am going to go and start working," said Dufty, who prior to joining the Board of Supervisors seven years ago worked as former Mayor Willie Brown's director of neighborhood services and was a legislative assistant in New York City to the late Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. "I finish my term January 8, 2011 at noon. There is no reason to wait or not begin my campaign."
With the race expected to draw a crowded field of candidates, and his decision to limit political contributions to $200 from people who either live or work in the city, Dufty said he needed to enter the race now so he could begin fundraising. He will not accept donations from lobbyists, corporations, or political action committees.
During his two supervisorial bids, Dufty also placed the same limitations on people contributing to his campaign. He said he does plan to abide by the current spending cap of $1.475 million – unless another candidate breaks it – and will seek public financing.
"I am committed to a grassroots campaign and a low-dollar campaign, which requires a lot of time and shoe leather," he said.
The single Dufty is raising a daughter, Sidney Maely Goldfader-Dufty, who turns 3 October 2, with co-parent Rebecca Goldfader. He said she would remain his number one priority while he juggles his duties of being a father, a supervisor, and candidate for mayor.
"I think any parent has to balance their jobs, their lives, and the needs of their child. I am confident I can do that," he said.
While Dufty's entrance into the mayoral race will mean she will have to do more of the parenting, Goldfader said she is completely supportive of his decision to seek higher office.
"I am inspired by Bevan's commitment and enthusiasm in running for mayor," she told the B.A.R. "As his co-parent, I completely support him and believe in him. We understand it is going to be a big compromise."
His race will be a family affair, as his daughter's godfather, openly gay city Treasurer Jose Cisneros, has agreed to co-chair his campaign. State Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) has also agreed to serve as a co-chair.
Working as his campaign coordinator is Nima Eslamieh, an 18-year-old graduate student in public policy at Cal State East Bay. Eslamich was harassed out of his Orange County high school for being gay, but at the age of 15 he had earned his GED and enrolled at San Francisco State University, where he graduated this year with a B.A. in sociology.
Hires Obama's gay campaign adviser
Dufty has hired Steve Hildebrand, the openly gay deputy national campaign director for President Barack Obama's presidential bid last year, as a campaign adviser. Dufty was one of the first elected leaders in the Bay Area to sign on to Obama's campaign during the Democratic primary race.
He said he admired the grassroots campaign Hildebrand orchestrated for Obama and asked him to help him wage his own "neighborhood block by neighborhood block" mayoral pursuit.
"I was drawn to him because of the type of campaign he leads," explained Dufty when asked why he picked someone who doesn't live in San Francisco to help with his bid for Room 200 in City Hall.
Hildebrand, who lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, said he would not be in charge of the day-to-day management of the campaign but would be focused more on overall strategy and messaging. He said he planned to be in town several days a month but expected most of his work could be done via the Internet and phone calls.
"In just talking to various folks in the San Francisco area, I know he is very well thought of by a lot of people. He works incredibly hard and has a smart vision for the future of this city. I want to help good people get elected and I think he is one of the good ones," said Hildebrand, who pointed out that the two men's hometowns do share the same initials.
Asked why he thought he would be able to discern San Francisco's notoriously quirky politics, Hildebrand laughed and said he had confidence in Dufty's ability to decipher the local political scene.
"I don't pretend to be an expert on local issues and local politics of San Francisco but I do know that Bevan is. I will be helping advise him on strategies and tactics for his race for mayor," he said.
As for expectations that Hildebrand will deliver a presidential endorsement to Dufty's campaign, he said that was not why he was hired.
"Bevan is, I think, asking for my help because he saw the kind of campaign Obama put together and the focus on grassroots and the empowerment of people. That is very similar to the kind of campaign he wants to run," said Hildebrand, who has been critical of the president's slow pace on enacting pro-LGBT legislation. "He is looking for that experience to help him, not any kind of relationship with the president. I am not here to deliver any kind of endorsements for the president."
Hildebrand will be speaking about his role in the Obama campaign and efforts to repeal California's anti-same-sex marriage ban in 2010 during a talk at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco Monday, September 28. The lecture begins at 6 p.m.; for tickets visit http://tickets.commonwealthclub.org.