Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

Political Notebook: Ammiano backs Avalos for mayor


Mayoral candidate John Avalos (Photo: Rick Gerharter)
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Openly gay state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) has endorsed District 11 Supervisor John Avalos to be the city's next mayor.

A former mayoral candidate himself, Ammiano announced his decision at Avalos's campaign kick-off event last Sunday, May 22. He is the latest LGBT leader to sign on to the progressive politician's bid for Room 200 at City Hall.

The news coincided with the second observation of the state's Harvey Milk Day, which falls each year on May 22, which would have been Milk's 81st birthday. And it comes several weeks after Avalos was criticized in some circles for using Milk's famous "I am here to recruit you" line at a mayoral debate.

Ammiano, who knew Milk and had a cameo in the Oscar-winning film Milk, sees Avalos as a grassroots leader in the same vein as Milk. He said Avalos's positions mirror his own political philosophy more than any of the other nine leading candidates in the race.

"I have known him a long time. I do trust his politics. I think they fit mine just about more than any other candidate," said Ammiano. "He has been very good as budget chair as well, particularly protecting money for AIDS. I also appreciate his temperament."

The nod from Ammiano could be a boon for Avalos as he competes against state Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) for support among progressives, both LGBT and straight. Yee this week nabbed the backing of the powerful Sierra Club, which picked Avalos as its second-choice in the race. (Voters will use rank-choice voting in the mayor's race for the first time this year.)

In siding with Avalos, Ammiano snubbed the only openly gay candidate among the top-tier of mayoral contenders, former District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty. Dufty and Ammiano once served together on the Board of Supervisors and sat next to each other during meetings.

It is hardly a surprise, though, as the two out politicians come from different political camps, with Ammiano more to the left of the moderate Dufty. And Dufty previously worked for former Mayor Willie Brown , whom Ammiano tried to defeat during his surprise write-in campaign in 1999.

But Ammiano stressed that his backing Avalos "isn't to slam anyone else" and he is open to making second and third place endorsements.

"I don't know what I am going to do with two or three. It will take some strategic thinking because you don't want to undermine your number one candidate," he said.

Dufty told the B.A.R. he wasn't disappointed and hoped he still could be Ammiano's second or third pick in the race under the city's ranked-choice voting.

"No, I love Tom. Who knows, maybe he will give me a ranked-choice endorsement down the road," said Dufty, who has been endorsed by the city's other Democratic Assembly member, Fiona Ma .

Also backing Dufty is Stuart Milk , the openly gay nephew of the city's first gay supervisor. While he didn't refer to Dufty by name, Milk did tell the crowd at the city's Milk Day ceremony that "the next mayor of San Francisco needs to be an openly LGBT person."

City Attorney Dennis Herrera has also attracted supporters with ties to Milk's legacy. Last week Dustin Lance Black, the Academy-Award winning screenwriter of Milk, and one of the film's gay producers, Bruce Cohen, publicly endorsed him in the mayoral race.

Black, who also appeared at a fundraiser this week for Herrera, has been saying Dufty would be his second choice pick, if he lived in the city and could vote for mayor.

Three seek 'LGBT' Police Commission seat

Three applicants are seeking the San Francisco Police Commission seat that had been held by Jim Hammer, a former deputy district attorney and the sole LGBT person on the oversight panel. Hammer's term expired April 30 and the Board of Supervisor's Rules Committee will take up the vacancy next week at its June 2 meeting.

Gay attorneys Julius Turman and David Waggoner are both seeking the post, as is Phillip Hogan, a property manager who previously worked in law enforcement. Last year the supervisors, who get to pick three people on the seven-person commission, passed on Waggoner and Hogan to fill a vacancy.

Hogan, 64, would not disclose his sexual orientation when asked by the B.A.R. and said he would represent all San Franciscans were he selected.

"If someone is running for Police Commission, for instance, this is my opinion: it doesn't or shouldn't matter what people's preferences are, as we found out in the military. It shouldn't matter if a person is gay, straight, or otherwise," said Hogan, who has sought a seat on the panel since 2004.

He also said the commission does not need another lawyer on it and that he would be an advocate for the embattled Patrol Special Police. He considered Jane Warner, a lesbian patrol special who walked the Castro and died last year, a close friend.

"They never had anybody on this commission with any law enforcement background," said Hogan, who said he was a deputy police chief at the University of Nebraska. "An attorney has no clue what happens when somebody puts that uniform on."

Since the commission now lacks a representative from the LGBT community, the decision will likely come down to Turman and Waggoner. With Turman seen as the more moderate candidate, he could have an edge with the board's Rules Committee – made up of District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim , who is chair, District 7 Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, and District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell.

It is the first time for Turman, 45, an attorney with Morgan, Lewis and Bockius, to seek a seat on the panel. He was the first African American to co-chair the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club and Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom. Former Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed him to a seat on the Human Rights Commission.

Turman did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

Waggoner, 36, a former president of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, is a managing attorney at the Homeless Action Center. He first applied for a seat on the high-profile panel in November 2009 following the departure of Theresa Sparks, a transgender woman who resigned when she became executive director of the Human Rights Commission.

This will be the third time he has sought a seat on the panel. Waggoner said this week he is "cautiously optimistic" about his chances.

"I haven't taken anyone for granted or written anyone off. I have reached out to every member of the board," said Waggoner, who is being backed by a number of LGBT progressive leaders, including former Supervisor Harry Britt. "At the same time, I know Julius is a strong candidate and has existing relationships with the committee members. I know it is not a slam dunk."

Castro rec center to reopen youth space

The Castro's Eureka Valley Recreation Center is expected to resume a drop-in program for LGBT and questioning youth next Tuesday, May 31. The building's teen rec space will be opened most weekdays from 12:30 to 5 p.m., with later hours Wednesdays (9 p.m.) and Fridays (5:30 p.m.), throughout the summer to offer supervised programming.

The news follows several B.A.R. stories that detailed how youth and their allies have been pressing recreation and park officials for access to the space since last August when it was closed following a department-wide reorganization.

Since then it has been used mainly for classes several hours a week that require participants to pay a fee and register in advance. In the past youth could access the space for little to no cost and stop by at their discretion.

The open programming times are in addition to two summer fee-based classes geared for LGBT youth: a Thursday movie night and a Saturday queer youth zine workshop.

"We are looking forward to the program restarting so this is a youth-centered space for LGBTQ youth in the neighborhood," said Adele Carpenter, who has been meeting with rec and park officials for months about the queer youth programming.

Web Extra: For more queer political news, be sure to check Monday mornings around 10 a.m. for Political Notes, the notebook's online companion. This week's column reports on the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club's annual dinner.

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 mailto:.

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