Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Political Notebook: Gay SF treasurer runs unopposed for re-election


Treasurer Jose Cisneros. Photo: Rick Gerharter
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Gay San Francisco Treasurer Jose Cisneros ' re-election campaign should be a cakewalk, as no one filed to oppose him this November. He is seeking a third full four-year term.

The Latino politician is the only LGBT person to hold one of the city's seven elected executive positions. Cisneros has held the post, which is not term limited, since 2004 when then-Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed him to fill a vacancy.

In 2005 he was elected by the voters to a full four-year term and was re-elected in 2009. In 2013 he won election to a two-year term due to a voter-approved switch to the city's election timetable that aligned both the treasurer and city attorney elections with races for mayor, district attorney, and sheriff beginning in 2015.

Cisneros, who did not face an opponent in his last two elections, was expected to go unchallenged again this fall. His being the sole candidate in the race this year became official when no one else submitted paperwork by the filing deadline last Friday, August 7.

"I think it will be a quieter campaign than not, but I am proud of what we do here and always happy to talk to people about what we do here," Cisneros, who held several fundraisers earlier this year, told the Bay Area Reporter when asked about his plans to campaign for the seat going forward. "I am so grateful to have this job. And I am so grateful to the people who let me keep it, mainly the voters, and I look forward to four more years."

Cisneros, 59, who last weekend marked his first wedding anniversary with his husband, Mark Kelleher, said he remains at a loss for why no one else has run for the elected position.

"I honestly love this job; I really do like it. I like what we get to do for this city and I am really proud of the team here I get to work with," said Cisneros. "I think things in our office are going well. We have done some really great things for the city and rolled out some innovative programs."

Two other Latino citywide officeholders are also unopposed this fall in their re-election bids. City Attorney Dennis Herrera , first elected in 2001, and District Attorney George Gascón, first elected in 2011 after being appointed in January that year by Newsom to fill a vacancy, also drew no opponents.

And Mayor Ed Lee is widely expected to easily win re-election in November after only a handful of little-known candidates filed to run against him by the June 9 deadline to do so.

Among them are San Francisco Examiner writer Stuart Schuffman, better known as Broke Ass Stuart, widower Kent Graham, and Amy Farah Weiss, a self-described YIMBY for Yes-In-My-Back-Yard. The other candidates are Reed Martin and Francisco Herrera .

It remains to be seen if allegations of pay-to-play politics against Lee that surfaced last week in the ongoing political corruption scandal involving Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow , a convicted gang member, will lead to a high profile progressive leader mounting a write-in campaign against Lee. The mayor's campaign has forcefully refuted the claims made by Chow's defense team, though it did donate $1,500 to the city reflecting campaign donations, $1,000 of which were from his 2011 election campaign, received from two women implicated in the court filings made public last week.

"While the accusations by Mr. Chow and his attorney against Mayor Lee may make for provocative headlines, they are ridiculous, outrageous, and utterly baseless," wrote Kevin Heneghan , Lee's campaign treasurer, in an email sent last week to the mayor's supporters. "Absolutely nothing in Mr. Chow's filing demonstrates that Mayor Lee or his campaign at any point did anything wrong or inappropriate."

Election battles are down ticket

This year's election battles are taking place down ticket, with contested races for sheriff, the District 3 supervisor seat, and a City College of San Francisco trustee seat.

The college race is pitting two gay men against a straight woman who came up short last year in her bid to serve on the oversight body for the community college.

Alex Randolph, who was tapped by Lee in April to fill a vacancy, is running to finish out the remainder of the term, which expires in 2016. Opposing him are Thomas Temprano, a nightlife promoter and Mission bar owner, and Wendy Aragon, who works in the construction industry. A fourth candidate, Jason Zeng , also filed to run.

The more moderate Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club is backing Randolph, who served on its board, while the progressive Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club has endorsed Temprano, its former president. Aragon has the support of a number of local unions and this week picked up the endorsement of the San Francisco Labor Council.

Former District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin , who had served as board president, is trying to reclaim his seat this fall. He is running to oust Julie Christensen , who was appointed to fill a vacancy by Lee earlier this year, as is Wilma Pang, who last ran for the seat representing North Beach and Chinatown in 2012.

But it is the sheriff's race that has garnered the most attention to date due to a series of scandals and missteps involving the embattled incumbent, Ross Mirkarimi, a former supervisor. His first year in office saw Mirkarimi charged with domestic violence following a fight he had with his wife, Eliana Lopez .

He ended up pleading guilty to a misdemeanor and agreed to undergo counseling and serve three years of probation. He was also suspended by Lee due to the charges, with Vicki Hennessy, who is now running to oust Mirkarimi, appointed interim sheriff. John C. Robinson, a retired sheriff's deputy who now owns a private security company, is also in the race.

Mirkarimi escaped being officially removed from office when four Board of Supervisors members voted in October 2012 not to sustain Lee's official misconduct charges against the sheriff. He was reinstated to the post, but the scandal has continued to engulf the sheriff and his allies ever since. (He won a judge's order this spring to expunge his false-imprisonment conviction from his record.)

Other issues Mirkarimi has had to confront as sheriff include the death of a patient in a stairwell at San Francisco General Hospital, which is guarded by sheriff deputies; allegations of a fight ring in a county jail run by sheriff deputies; and low morale among the rank and file of the safety agency.

Making international headlines was the killing last month of a woman on a city pier, allegedly by a man in the country illegally who had been released from custody by the sheriff's department after a long ago drug possession charge against him was dismissed. Due to the city's sanctuary city policy, the sheriff's department released the individual without alerting federal immigration authorities, a decision that came under blistering criticism from Lee and other officials.

This week the headlines focused on how Mirkarimi's driver's license was suspended earlier this year after he failed to properly report a fender bender he was involved in last October while driving a city-issued vehicle to the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Late Monday night, after news broke of his license suspension, Mirkarimi's office issued a statement saying, "he is working immediately to resolve the issue of his restricted license. He has contacted his insurance representatives to determine why the proper report was not submitted to the DMV."

Early Tuesday evening Mirkarimi's office announced that, after he spoke with DMV officials and filed the proper paperwork, "the matter has been resolved."


Web Extra: Political Notes, the notebook's online companion, will return this Monday, August 17.

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) 829-8836 or e-mail

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