Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

Online Extra: Political Notes: Gay Dem clubs snub Adachi, out school board candidates


Public Defender Jeff Adachi. Photo: Bill Wilson
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Public Defender Jeff Adachi and the three out candidates running for school board on the fall ballot have, so far, failed to win the backing of the cities two LGBT Democratic Clubs. Two of the school board contenders plan to seek the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club's support when it meets Tuesday to finalize its endorsement list.

The club's political action committee voted over the Labor Day weekend not to endorse either Adachi or any of the out school board candidates. It did recommend that the club endorse incumbent school board member Kim-Shree Maufas for re-election and failed to endorse anyone for the other two seats up for grabs this fall.

UPDATE: The Milk club members voted Tuesday (September 14) to ignore their PAC and endorse both Adachi and Bill Barnes, one of the three out school board candidates. See

The Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club, the more moderate of the two clubs, last month voted to withhold its endorsement of Adachi, who is seeking a third four-year term. The club also overlooked the three out school board candidates: former AIDS czar Bill Barnes, an out black man living with HIV; bisexual sex worker Starchild; and transgender elementary school teacher Jamie Rafaela Wolfe.

Instead, the club threw its backing to incumbent school board member Hydra Mendoza; public school parent Emily Murase; and youth advocate Margaret Brodkin. Alice's snub of the out candidates is not at all surprising since neither Starchild nor Wolfe are Democrats and Barnes is more closely aligned with the city's progressive camp.

Alice co-chair Charles Sheehan, in an email response to questions, said that the club does not endorse non-Democrats but did consider endorsing Barnes. Ultimately, he said the Club felt that Mendoza, Murase and Brodkin "had the most experience with education and youth issues and therefore deserved the club's endorsement."

It is not only the LGBT clubs snubbing the out school board candidates. Both the public school teacher's union and the local Democratic Party have endorsed the two incumbents, Mendoza and Maufas, as well as Murase for the open seat being vacated by school board president Jane Kim, who is running to be the next District 6 supervisor.

The Milk PAC snub of Barnes and Wolfe is a bit more perplexing but likely has to do with Wolfe's being relatively unknown to the club's members and Barnes's inability to be present at the PAC meeting because a family commitment that required him to be out of town that Saturday, September 4. Starchild did not seek the club's endorsement.

Milk Co-President David Waggoner said there is still a possibility that either Barnes or Wolfe or both will garner the 60 percent required to win the club's endorsement when the full membership votes tomorrow night (Tuesday, September 14).

"I think they both have a shot," said Waggoner. "But if they get only 59 percent, it is not going to work because you need to get 60 percent or more for the endorsement."

 While supporting LGBT candidates is important for the club, a person's sexual orientation does not automatically mean they will be endorsed, said Waggoner.

"We don't endorse merely because someone is LGBT identified. It is also about a person's politics," said Waggoner. "The Milk Club has been around a long time and our membership is made up of fairly politically savvy people. In terms of Jamie, I think she is unknown to a lot of our membership. The club is going to tend to vote for people who have a proven track record."

This is the first time Wolfe, who has taught at the private Brandeis Hillel Day School near the city's Lake Merced, has sought public office. She told the Bay Area Reporter that she was "quite stunned to say the least" at not being backed by the Milk club's PAC.

"After my speech, in the Q&A, a member of the PAC even made it a point to say publicly, that I 'scored' 100 percent as far as my support and non-support for the PAC's issues. So when I heard I was not endorsed by the PAC, I was dumbfounded," Wolfe wrote in an e-mail response to questions. "I would understand if I was unqualified for the position, but I believe I am a great candidate for the board and absolutely qualified."

Wolfe does intend to speak to the club before it votes Tuesday night and is hopeful she can grab one of its two current no endorsements in the race.

Wrote Wolfe, "... I am sorry to hear they will not be supporting a qualified, progressive transperson like myself that is committed to ensuring educational excellence in our public schools, but that is their right and I have to respect that. There is also the chance the membership feels different and votes to endorse me, we'll see."

Barnes told the B.A.R. he is too is hopeful that the club will ignore its PAC and vote to back him in the race.

"The fact is there is only one recommended person and two seats remain, so I think I have a good chance," Barnes said. "I knew I wasn't going to get Alice but think I have a good chance at Milk."

As for Adachi, the progressive politician has become a political pariah within progressive circles due to his pushing local ballot measure Proposition B, which would require the city's employees to pay more for their pensions and the health care costs of their family members. It is being fiercely opposed by the city's labor unions.

The Milk Club has long been closely allied with the labor unions and has come out against Prop B. Waggoner said due to the issue Adachi had no chance of winning Milk's endorsement this time out.

"I think Jeff, up until his pension reform efforts ... up until Prop B Jeff had a really good reputation within the club. But our membership is going to be totally opposed to any cutting of health benefits for public employees. It is a total nonstarter for our club," said Waggoner, who as co-president of the club is refraining from making his own endorsements apart from what the club decides.

Prop B also cost Adachi the support of Alice this year, which has endorsed him in the past. Sheehan criticized Adachi for failing to develop consensus around his ballot initiative, which he claimed will be a financial hit to middle class families and endanger $23 million in federal matching funds for healthcare.

"That consensus and a well thought out policy development process is important or else you wind up with initiatives like Prop B that have unintended consequences and ultimately do more harm than good," wrote Sheehan. "Our members strongly oppose Proposition B and disagree with Mr. Adachi's unilateral approach to citywide policy-making. As a result, the membership declined to endorse him."

Adachi did not respond to the B.A.R. 's request for comment last week.

Out candidates hold fundraisers

Openly gay Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), who is up for re-election this year, is holding a fundraiser in San Francisco Thursday, September 16.

The event will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the gay-owned Triple Crown dance club, 1772 Market Street at Octavia. Tickets begin at $35.

For more information call Esther Marks at (415) 665-5417.

Across the bay Victoria Kolakowski, a transgender woman who has a good shot of being elected to the Alameda County Superior Court, is holding a fundraiser Tuesday, September 14. Should she win come November, Kolakowski would be the country's first openly transgender judge.

The event will run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Shashamane Bar and Grill, 2507 Broadway in Oakland. Tickets begin at $100.

To RSVP or for questions e-mail events@kolakowskiforjudge.comor call (510) 465-2988.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBT political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @

Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 861-5019 or e-mail

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