Online Extra: Political Notes: SF supe candidates rule out seeking a DCCC seat
by Matthew S. Bajko
In June many questioned if it was appropriate for six sitting supervisors to win seats on the local Democratic Party's oversight panel.
For one, it constitutes a majority of the 11-member board and makes the Democratic County Central Committee, better known as the "D triple C," a de facto supervisor's committee subject to the rules that govern public meetings at City Hall.
Secondly, the DCCC does not only weigh in on public policy debates but also doles out coveted endorsements during election time. Thus the supervisors have a vested interest and can use their seat to curry favor with their fellow DCCC members in order to secure the Democratic Party's official seal of approval for their campaigns.
Due to the record number of supervisors who landed on the DCCC following the June primary results, some have questioned if elected officials for city positions should be barred from serving on the party panel. Not only do they have a conflict of interest, they also take seats away from the community activists who shoulder much of the work that the local party is required to do.
The seats on the party committee will next be up for grabs in 2014. With that in mind, the Bay Area Reporter asked the candidates seeking the odd-numbered supervisor seats on the fall ballot if they would pledge not to run for the DCCC should they win.
Sixteen of the supervisor candidates responded, and nine said they are willing to forgo seeking DCCC seats themselves should they be elected come November. Three refused to pledge not to, three others were non-committal, and one said the answer was not applicable since he is a registered independent.
Of the four supervisors seeking re-election who also sit on the DCCC, only District 1 Supervisor Eric Mar pledged not to seek another term. The other three all said they are willing to consider leaving the DCCC in two years.
Mar wrote that he does not plan to run again but "will be spending my efforts recruiting other diverse voices for the DCCC."
Mar's challengers – Sherman R. D'silva and David Lee – both pledged not to run for the DCCC.
Gay District 9 Supervisor David Campos wrote that he is "open to no longer serving" on the DCCC in order to "provide others an opportunity to serve." But he also called for reforming the overall structure of the panel so that elected leaders at the state and federal levels, who are automatically given DCCC seats, "no longer serve on it."
The supervisors bring "complementary perspectives" to the DCCC discussions, argued District 3 Supervisor David Chiu . But he also expressed a similar fix as Campos, saying he would give up his DCCC seat if the other elected officials followed suit.
"But unless that happens, it does not make sense to have a local Democratic leadership that consists of federal and state elected and grassroots activists, but no local electeds," wrote Chiu, who is president of the Board of Supervisors.
District 11 Supervisor John Avalos , who like Campos is running unopposed, replied that he too is "willing" to step down and believes that the DCCC is currently "heavily over-represented by elected officials."
In the race for the District 5 seat covering the Haight, Inner Sunset, and Western Addition, challenger London Breed said she would not sign on to such a pledge.
"No, I am extremely active in the Democratic Party and although I do not have plans to seek a seat on the [DCCC], I cannot make this pledge at this time," responded Breed, executive director of the African American Art and Culture Complex.
Julian Davis, on the other hand, indicated he has no desire to run for DCCC and favors adopting rule changes so that membership on the panel is an "electoral opportunity for activists, volunteers, and new people" that want to get involved in politics.
"I support rule changes so effective citizen participation is given a stronger voice," said Davis, who is taking a leave of absence from his job at the Booker T. Washington Community Service Center. "I prefer to work for those changes than run for DCCC."
The incumbent, bisexual District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague; Hope Johnson class=st>, the former chair of the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force; and Community College board president John Rizzo all pledged not to seek a DCCC seat.
"I believe that DCCC should be a body composed of citizens in order to give the party more of a bottom-up structure than a top-down," wrote Rizzo.
In the race for the open District 7 seat west of Twin Peaks, gay journalist Joel Engardio and Michael Garcia, the former president of the Board of Appeals, both pledged not to seek a DCCC seat. Port Commissioner and labor leader Francis "FX " Crowley refrained from making a pledge but said he is "not interested" in running for the DCCC should he be elected.
School Board President Norman Yee would not rule out running for the DCCC should he be elected supervisor, though he said at this time he has "absolutely no intention" to do so.
Candidate Julian Lagos said the question isn't applicable to him since he is not a registered Democrat.
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