Online Extra: Political Notes: Gay Sacto council candidate lands major backing in race
by Matthew S. Bajko
Heading into the final weeks of the November election, a gay man running for Sacramento City Council has picked up several key endorsements in his race.
Steve Hansen, 33, a senior regional manager at Genentech, is looking to make history this year as being the first out person to win a seat on the council. He was the top vote-getter in the June primary for the council's downtown-centric District 4 seat.
Based on the official results, Hansen came in first in the seven-person race with 3,454 votes or 28.39 percent. Planning Commissioner Joseph Yee, 62, placed a close second with 3,379 votes, or 27.77 percent, to advance into the runoff against Hansen.
In recent weeks Hansen, formerly an LGBT rights lobbyist with Equality California, has landed endorsements from both the state capital's mainstream newspaper the Sacramento Bee and its alternative weekly the Sacramento News and Review .
"We are on a real roll," Hansen told supporters in an email last week after landing the Bee's backing.
The news came just days prior to the one-year mark of when Hansen launched his campaign back on October 13, 2011.
"It has been a remarkable journey from humble beginnings through our success in the Primary and the achievements since then," noted Hansen.
The online site Sacramento Press wrote Friday that the latest endorsements for Hansen, combined with the support he has received from local unions for firefighters and police, could have a significant impact with voters.
"An obstacle that challengers tend to face in any campaign is convincing voters to take the risk of going with the less experienced candidate. The Bee's endorsement helps Hansen bridge this gap, re-enforces his legitimacy as a serious candidate, and could persuade voters that were already leaning his way that it's worth it to take the plunge," wrote the online newspaper, which doesn't endorse, in an unsigned commentary.
While the Bee, which failed to mention Hansen's sexual orientation, described the political neophyte as the "less tested candidate" in the race, the paper nonetheless said he would be the better choice to "bring change" to City Hall.
The daily's editorial board noted that, "with City Hall's problems and the city's imposing challenges, it doesn't make sense to embrace the status quo. That makes ... Hansen a better choice."
The News and Review also failed to mention in its endorsement that Hansen's election would break a gay political glass ceiling in Sacramento. It instead described him as "a hands-on, suit-up-and-show-up guy."
And the paper praised Hansen for his determination "to build employment sectors other than government payroll, so that Sacramento can become economically sustainable and establish an urban identity not entirely tied just to its status as the state capital."
Yee has tried to turn his longtime involvement in the city's politics to his advantage in the race. In a piece he wrote for the Sacramento Press, he argued that his past experience makes him more than qualified to serve on the council.
"As a lifelong Sacramentan, a small business owner, and the former chair of the city's Planning Commission, I haven't spent my career tweeting about how to grow a more walkable, bikeable, liveable city, I made it happen," wrote Yee, in an apparent dig at Hansen, who has used social media platforms to his advantage in the campaign.
Despite landing the paper's endorsements, Hansen still faces significant challenges in getting his message out to voters. He needs to raise another $30,000 before Election Day on November 6 so that his campaign "can be fully funded to send mail and pay our staff," wrote Hansen last week in a fundraising appeal.
For more information about Hansen, visit http://steve4sacramento.com/.
SF leaders raise cash for Oakland councilwoman
LGBT leaders in San Francisco are extending a helping hand to an out politician across the bay who is facing a tough re-election bid this fall.
Lesbian Oakland at-large City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan is fending off a challenge from District 5 City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente. Rather than seek another term to his Fruitvale-based seat, De La Fuente opted to run against Kaplan for the citywide seat.
The winner of the intra-council duel will instantly be seen as a viable challenger for mayor in 2014, when embattled Mayor Jean Quan is up for re-election.
Should she win a second term on the council, though, Kaplan has said she will only run for mayor if Quan opts not to run. In 2010 Kaplan came in second against Quan in the mayoral contest.
Like Hansen, Kaplan also secured the endorsement of her hometown paper in the race. The Oakland Tribune's editorial board wrote that it "would have gladly supported [De La Fuente] for re-election to his current post. But we see no reason to throw out an incumbent we like to accommodate him. We're sticking with Kaplan."
To give Kaplan's campaign coffers a boost, her LGBT counterparts in San Francisco are hosting a $50-per-person fundraiser this Wednesday night, October 17. Those listed among the hosts include gay state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco); gay Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco); and gay Supervisors David Campos and Scott Wiener .
Others co-hosting the event include former supervisor and mayoral homelessness policy adviser Bevan Dufty; transgender labor leader Gabriel Haaland , Entertainment Commissioner Glendon Hyde , aka drag queen Anna Conda; and Rafael Mandelman, a gay man on the local Democratic Party's oversight panel.
"She has been a partner to those of us in San Francisco government who are lucky enough to work with her on regional issues – work that she's coined 'Bay Marriage.' And she is a trailblazer – when Rebecca was elected to the Oakland City Council in 2008, she became the youngest and first openly lesbian Oakland councilmember," stated the co-hosts in an emailed invite. "She has a tough challenge ahead of her in November and we need to make sure Rebecca is re-elected this November."
The event takes place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Per Diem, 43 Sutter Street (at Market) in downtown San Francisco.
For more information or to RSVP contact Dana Rivera at mailto:Dana@50p1.com or call (415) 562-7081.
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Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 861-5019 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.