Editorial: Kaplan for Oakland City Council
The Bay Area Reporter has supported Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan since she first won the at-large seat in 2008 and we continue to support her in this election. She has been a successful legislator on the council by working to secure unanimous votes on some key measures that the council put on the ballot. A lesbian, Kaplan has brought visibility to the city's large LGBT community and helped relaunch Oakland Pride.
This year, Kaplan has been especially effective, and the city finally has a chance to develop real police accountability with the passage of Measure LL, a charter amendment that would establish a civilian police commission to oversee the scandal-plagued Oakland Police Department and form a community police review agency to investigate police misconduct and recommend discipline. Those reforms are long overdue, and while the formation of a police commission won't change things overnight, just having a panel to hold police accountable is a big step in the right direction.
Rising rents and the lack of housing are pressing issues in Oakland, partly because so many people priced out of San Francisco are relocating there. Kaplan authored Measure JJ on the November ballot, which seeks to protect renters from excessive rent increases and wrongful evictions.
Significantly, Kaplan views the city not in isolation but one of many comprising the Bay Area region. She is chair of the Alameda County Transportation Commission, which oversees $8 billion in Measure BB funding. Under her leadership, the commission this year instituted a free bus pass program for school kids and continues to work on cleaning up truck congestion and air pollution in hard hit areas like West Oakland.
Along with that, Kaplan sits on the powerful Bay Area Air Quality Management District board – the first representative from Oakland in 25 years. Climate change is a top priority for her, and this position enables Kaplan to advocate for caps on emissions and greenhouse gases.
Kaplan has passed legislation that bans leaving loose guns in unattended vehicles.
Kaplan's chief opponent is also a lesbian, Peggy Moore, who used to serve as a senior adviser to Mayor Libby Schaaf. But Moore has not articulated a reason to boot Kaplan from office. At a time when the Oakland City Council is working better than in the recent past – though it still can do more – we believe Kaplan has earned a third term. The at-large seat represents the entire city, and Kaplan has proved she's been effective.
Oakland City Council, District 3
Lynette Gibson McElhaney was not our endorsed candidate four years ago, but she has been an effective City Council president who has managed to keep the meetings productive after previous council leaders shut meetings down because of protesters. She is also an ally to the LGBT community.
Recently, she and county Supervisor Keith Carson started a new pilot program to address tent encampments whereby hygiene and other services are brought to the site, along with social workers – all with the aim of dismantling the camp and finding housing for the campers or reuniting them with family. It's an out-of-the-box approach that might just work, and she deserves credit for a humane and creative attempt.
Jesse Arreguin has run a stellar campaign and is our first choice for mayor of the famously progressive city. A straight ally, Arreguin wants to increase housing construction along transit corridors, strengthen the city's rent protections, and raise the minimum wage to a living wage. On public safety, he says he will expand emergency mental health services and implement police body cameras. Arreguin is currently a city councilman and has a keen understanding of how the city works. He will be an innovative leader for the city.
Kriss Worthington, the gay longtime city councilman, is also running for mayor with the strategy of asking constituents to vote for him and Arreguin under the city's ranked choice voting, in order to stop the more moderate candidate, City Councilman Laurie Capitelli. Worthington has a great understanding of the city, and would be a good mayor.
We recommend Arreguin as voters' first choice and Worthington as their second.
Berkeley City Council, District 2
Darryl Moore has been an effective city councilman for 12 years. A gay African-American man, Moore has worked on issues such as affordable housing, public safety, homelessness, and youth. He also favors housing construction along transit corridors. On public safety, he has worked with his colleagues to secure five additional full-time officers, with a portion of the officers' time dedicated to bike patrols in the parks. He will continue to advocate for his constituents in southwest Berkeley.
Berkeley school board
Judy Appel is a lesbian who's running for re-election. The former executive director of Our Family Coalition, Appel has done an excellent job and is passionate about making public schools great for all kids.
BART, District 3
Rebecca Saltzman has been a breath of fresh air on the BART board and deserves re-election. A lesbian, Saltzman was instrumental in getting BART to start the trains earlier this year for San Francisco Pride, which was not an easy task. She has worked on labor negotiations to ensure BART riders won't endure a strike for years into the future. She is constantly visiting various stations, whether to discuss upgrade plans or show riders the new cars that will start to arrive next year. A public transportation advocate, Saltzman is just what the BART board needs for another four-year term.
Up and comers
This year several up and coming LGBT candidates are running for office in the East Bay. While we didn't endorse all of them, we recommend those listed below.
Concord City Council: Pablo Benavente is a Latino man who's focused on jobs, housing, and planning. He wants to see a unified Concord, not separated by class distinctions.
Emeryville City Council: John Bauters was unsuccessful two years ago but this time around he's running a tighter campaign and has garnered endorsements from the outgoing mayor, Ruth Atkin, a lesbian, and longtime ally state Controller Betty Yee. Bauters is recognized as an expert in social and fiscal policies that make communities affordable and wants to bring that know-how to Emeryville, a city long on retail and short on affordable housing.
Martinez City Council: John Stevens served as the chief executive officer of the Martinez Chamber of Commerce, which gave him insight into the city's issues and brought him into daily contact with residents. Now, he wants to use that experience to help his city. His main goals are to create a waterfront infrastructure master plan and incentivize developers to encourage affordable residential development downtown that is architecturally appropriate. He also wants to maintain public safety and provide transparent decision-making that involves city residents.
Peralta College Board, Area 6: Nick Resnick is a trans man with a breadth of education experience that would serve this community college district well.
Richmond City Council: Political newcomer Cesar Zepeda is a community leader in the East Bay city who would focus on affordable housing and tackling the city's budget deficit. He also wants to improve relations between the police and residents.
October 20, 2016 endorsements
Editorial: Recommendations for CA ballot props
There are 17 state propositions on the November ballot. Below are our recommendations.
Proposition 51: School Facility Bonds. Yes. Prop 51 is a $9 billion general obligation bond to fund improvement and construction of public school facilities for K-12 schools and community colleges. There has not been a state public school bond on the ballot in over a decade. K-12 facilities are crumbling. This will provide funding to renovate aging classrooms and build new schools reflecting changing demographic trends. Included are $2 billion for acquiring, constructing, renovating, and equipping community colleges, a backbone to California's goal to provide quality state secondary education to all our people. Vote Yes on 51.
Proposition 52: Voter approval to divert Hospital Fee revenue dedicated to Medi-Cal. Yes. The federal Medicaid program in California is Medi-Cal. Since 2009, hospitals have been required to pay a fee to help the state obtain available Medicaid funding. The state, however, has diverted some of those funds to its general fund rather than for the intended public health purposes. This proposition is intended to prevent that diversion. Vote Yes on 52.
Proposition 53: Statewide voter approval for revenue bonds. No. This requires a statewide vote for any state revenue bond exceeding $2 billion even if the funds tapped are used for local projects such as an airport or port expansion. Sponsored by a single wealthy farmer from Stockton, the real goal is to gut some of Governor Jerry Brown's high priority projects such as high-speed rail. The language of the proposition is so convoluted the state budget analyst cannot even guess on its potential effects on state and local governments. Proposals for state revenue bonds normally go through a rigorous analysis before legislators and state officials. This was put together by one person with no substantive input and could lead to unanticipated consequences. And its faults can only be corrected by another statewide vote. This is bad policy. Vote No on 53.
Proposition 54: Constitutional Amendment on Notice and Recording of State Legislative Proceedings. Yes. This initiative constitutional amendment would prohibit the Legislature from enacting any legislation unless it had been in print and published on line 72 hours in advance except in cases of public emergency. It also requires legislative proceedings except closed sessions be video recorded and published online. This is a good government measure to promote transparency and prevent last minute shenanigans by legislators. Vote Yes on 54.
Proposition 55: Extension of income tax on high earners to fund public schools and community colleges. Yes. This extends for 12 years the income tax increase adopted by the voters in 2012 on earners of more than $250,000 ($500,000 for couples) annually. Eighty-nine percent of the revenues raised will go for the benefit of K-12 school construction or maintenance and 11 percent to state community colleges. Like Prop 51, this is a funding measure intended to restore the quality state education that for decades was the pride of California. Vote Yes on 55.
Proposition 56: Tobacco Tax increase. Yes. This proposition would increase taxes on a pack of cigarettes by $2. Smoking is not only harmful to the individual smoker's health, it creates a terrible public burden. In California, taxpayers spend about $3.5 billion per year in treating cancer, emphysema, and other tobacco-related diseases through Medi-Cal. This tax will generate over $1 billion per year that will be allocated in great part to cover taxpayer-incurred costs from smoking. It will also help fund prevention programs. Vote Yes on 56.
Proposition 57: Non-violent adult and juvenile criminal justice reform. Yes. Prop 57 mandates the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to implement a system of credits for non-violent inmates who successfully complete education, drug rehabilitation and other rehabilitation programs that may result in an earlier release from custody. It also gives the decision whether to try a juvenile as an adult or a juvenile to a judge; currently the prosecutor makes that decision. This is strongly supported by Governor Jerry Brown, and we support it too. Vote Yes on 57.
Proposition 58: Repealing English Only in Public Schools Initiative. Yes. As part of the Republican led backlash against Hispanic immigrants, California voters approved the English Only in Public Schools Act. Bilingual classes were not allowed, even for students with little or no English comprehension. This was a racist measure and was harmful to the education of California's children. We support the repeal. Vote Yes on 58.
Proposition 59: California Overturn Citizens United Act Advisory Question. Yes. We do not generally favor asking voters to express advisory opinions where there is no force of law behind them. But the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in the Citizens United case unleashed unlimited amounts of cash into the political system, corrupting it thoroughly, compels us to make an exception. Everyone should express his/her revulsion and disgust at this horrendous decision that corrupts everyone it touches. Vote Yes on 59.
Proposition 60: Condoms for Porn Actors. No. Government should not be telling people what to do with their own bodies, whether it is a woman seeking an abortion or a man who choses to work in the porn industry. Voters should not be in the business of regulating health issues and workplace safety at the ballot box that can only be modified by returning for another statewide vote. Regulation is best done by experts in and out of government such as the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. Plus this proposition creates a private right of action whereby any individual can sue to enforce the provisions against the producers or an individual actor creating serious invasion of privacy issues and likely leading to bounty hunting. Vote No on 60.
Proposition 61: State Prescription Drug Purchases and Price Standards. No Endorsement. This ballot initiative would limit the amount state agencies pay for prescription drugs, tying it to the prices paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Proponents argue that this will reduce prescription drug prices for state agencies (it does not apply to individuals) as the VA pays less for drugs than state agencies. Opponents argue that artificially limiting drug prices will reduce incentives for pharmaceutical companies to do necessary research and development on new drugs. They further argue that this may result in the pharmaceutical companies just raising their prices to the VA and hence not accomplishing its purpose. While we agree that some drug pricing has breached the line between incentive and greed, we also are not convinced that this proposition is the solution and fear unintended consequences.
Propositions 62 and 66: Death Penalty Reform. Yes on 62; No on 66. There are 750 inmates on California's death row currently. Thirteen inmates have been executed since 1993, none in recent years. The process to execute an inmate is extremely expensive, not efficient and certainly does not accomplish its stated purposes: deterrence and justice. Proposition 62 is a practical, humane, and fiscally prudent proposition: abolish the death penalty and replace it with a punishment of life without the possibility of parole. It is estimated by the state's budget analyst that eliminating the death penalty would save the state some $150 million per year. Prop 66, on the other hand, claims to streamline the process with the goal of executing condemned inmates quicker. The streamlining process suggested is highly complex, likely very expensive and legally and constitutionally questionable. This is 2016. It is time to abolish the death penalty. Vote Yes on 62 and No on 66.
Proposition 63: Background checks for ammunition and large magazine purchases. Yes. This is a reasonable gun control regulation that requires a background check by the state Department of Justice for the purchase of ammunition. It prohibits the possession of large capacity ammunition magazines. Prop. 63 has been passionately supported by Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, and we support it too. Vote Yes on 63.
Proposition 64: Legalization of recreational marijuana for adults. Yes. A similar proposition was correctly defeated six years ago as a slipshod and poorly regulated measure. This time, due to the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and a blue ribbon committee that he established, Prop 64 is a carefully thought out cannabis measure that establishes strict regulation and establishes a state excise tax on retail sales and cultivation that will provide revenues of up to $1 billion annually to be spent on specific programs such as youth programs, environmental protection, and law enforcement. Vote Yes on 64.
Proposition 65: Redirecting Revenues from Carryout bags. No. This is a smokescreen measure promoted by out of state bag makers to further confuse their objective, which is to overturn the state ban on single use plastic bags (see Prop 67 below). This purports to direct revenues from paper and carryout bag sales to environmental causes, but environmentalists don't support it. Let the retailers keep the 10-cent charge to cover their own overhead. Vote No on 65.
Proposition 67: Referendum to Overturn Ban on Single-Use Plastic bags. Yes. This proposition is confusingly written so a yes vote maintains the ban and a no vote overturns it. Current state law bans single use plastic bags for good reason. They are an environmental disaster, often ending up on beaches or parks, choking fish and wildlife. We have gotten used to sustainable alternatives and California should continue to lead on environmental matters. Vote Yes to maintain the ban on plastic.
October 13, 2016 endorsements
Editorial: Recommendations for SF ballot props
There are a whopping 24 local ballot measures on the November ballot, and a regional one for BART. Below are our recommendations.
Proposition A: San Francisco Unified School District Bond Issue. Yes. This authorizes the SF Unified School District to issue $744 million in general obligation bonds to repair and modernize San Francisco's public schools as well as to build new schools and related facilities. We support quality public education. This requires a 55 percent vote to pass. Vote Yes on A.
Proposition B: San Francisco Community College Parcel Tax. Yes. This renews and extends a $99 per parcel tax for 15 years to continue necessary funding for San Francisco community colleges. Since the accreditation problems, enrollment has decreased substantially and as a consequence, revenues. A new and quality board of trustees is pulling the system out of the abyss. We need to continue to support their efforts and San Francisco residents need quality community colleges. This requires a 2/3 vote to pass. Vote Yes on B.
Proposition C: San Francisco Affordable Housing Bond Issue. Yes. In 1992 voters approved a $350 million bond issue to seismically retrofit housing at all price levels. The city has used about $95 million of the approved amount. This measure would allow the issuance of approximately $260 million of the already approved bond issue to acquire and rehabilitate at risk multi unit residential properties to provide additional affordable housing. We support additional affordable housing. Vote Yes on C.
Proposition D: San Francisco Vacancy Appointments. No. This is one of four ballot measures (D, H, L, and M) that all purport to be good government measures but in reality are targeted at gutting San Francisco's "strong mayor" form of city government, a structure that has served the city well for generations, clearly delineating who is responsible for getting things done and who bares the blame when things don't get done (generally the mayor). Currently, should a sitting member of the Board of Supervisors step down for any reason, the mayor names a replacement supervisor until the next scheduled election. Prop D mandates a costly special election to fill the seat and allows the mayor only to appoint an interim supervisor who cannot run in the special election. This makes no sense. Vote No on D.
Proposition E: San Francisco City Responsibility for Street Trees and Sidewalk Amendment. Yes. The city requires property owners to keep sidewalks and trees adjacent to their property in proper condition and repair. Trees and sidewalks are for the benefit of all. This mandate often creates a hardship for longtime, low-income and older property owners. Plus, individual patchwork repair of sidewalks makes for uneven and inconsistent results. This measure would establish a $19 million fund to allow the city to assume responsibility for trees and sidewalks. Vote Yes on E.
Proposition F: San Francisco Youth Voting in Local Elections. Yes. This measure would permit 16- and 17-year-olds who are U.S. citizens and residents of San Francisco to vote in municipal and school board elections. There are estimated to be between 6,000 and 13,000 people impacted. Young people tend to register and vote less than older demographics, but an engaged 16- or 17-year-old is just as capable as older voters in forming well thought out opinions. More engaged voters are a good thing. Vote Yes on F.
Proposition G: Establishes Department of Police Accountability. Yes. This measure replaces the current Office of Citizen Complaints with the Department of Police Accountability with broader authority over police policy and police accountability. It mandates a review every two years of officer use of force policy. It also separates the department's budget out of the mayor's budget process. This really is a good government measure. Vote Yes on G.
Proposition H: Establishment of a Public Advocate. No. This is one of the four weaken-the-mayor, power-grab measures along with Props D, L, and M. It is the job of the mayor to advocate for the city and its residents. It is the job of the members of the Board of Supervisors to advocate for the city and its residents. This measure would create another expensive level of bureaucracy, costing about $3.5 million annually for a staff of some 25 additional city employees. This is a bad government measure. Vote No on H.
Proposition I: Funding for Seniors and Adults with Disabilities. Yes. This measure creates a "dignity fund" for senior and adult with disabilities services of approximately $38 million a year, with scheduled increases until 2037. San Francisco has more per capita seniors and adults with disabilities than any other urban area in California. This demographic constitutes the most vulnerable among us and it is the right thing to provide this necessary support. Vote Yes on I.
Proposition J: Homeless Services and Transportation Funds. Yes. This measure sets out how the money from the sales tax extension and increase contained in Proposition K will be spent. It will provide a fund of $50 million a year for 24 years to be spent on homeless services, Navigation Centers and assistance out of homelessness, and also $101 million for improved transportation equipment and services. This proposition has broad support and we support it too. Vote Yes on J.
Proposition K: San Francisco Sales Tax Increase. Yes. Prop K increases city sales tax by 0.75 percent to 9.25 percent. The bulk of the money provided by this increase will be spent on homeless and transportation services as set out in the accompanying measure, Prop J. These are essential city services. Like Prop J, this measure has broad support. Vote Yes on K.
Proposition L: Municipal Transportation Agency Governance. No. Another bad government measure along with Props D, H, and M. Residents look to the mayor to see that the buses and the metro run on time and rightly so. S/he is the chief executive of the city. To implement city policy, the mayor appoints the members of the MTA. This proposition proposes to divide the appointment power between the mayor and the Board of Supervisors as well as to reduce from 7 to 6 the number of supervisors necessary to reject the MTA budget. This is an unnecessary politicization of an essential city service. Vote No on L.
Proposition M: Housing and Development Commission Establishment. No. This is the last of the four bad government measures along with Props D, H, and L. This creates a new and unnecessary level of bureaucracy – a new commission to oversee two already existing agencies, the Department of Economic and Workforce Development and the Department of Housing and Community Development. Both existing agencies answer to the mayor, as it should be, and he has a substantial staff already to monitor and assist the two agencies. What does a new level of bureaucracy add to the mix other than confusion? Nothing. Vote No on M.
Proposition N: Non-Citizen Voting in School Board Elections. Yes. This measure would allow San Francisco residents who are of legal voting age and who are the parents, legal guardians, or caregivers for children in the San Francisco Unified School District to vote in elections for the Board of Education, regardless of whether they are U.S. citizens. The measure would provide these voting rights to noncitizens who are in the country legally and illegally, as long as they have children ages 18 or younger. This could affect as many as 20,000 potential new voters. San Francisco is a Sanctuary City and welcomes immigrants. Those with children should have a say in their children's education. It would create more parents' involvement in the school system. Vote Yes on N.
Proposition O: Office Development in Candlestick Point and Hunters Point. Yes. Current law (Prop M) limits the total amount of office development in San Francisco to 950,000 square feet per year. Hunters Point and the area around Candlestick Point have historically been the stepchildren for developers with little housing or office development. In 2008 the voters adopted the Bayview Jobs, Parks and Housing Initiative to promote development in this area. Housing projects are currently underway, but office development is snagged having to compete with developments elsewhere in the city due to the Prop M cap. This measure exempts the clearly defined Candlestick Point and Hunters Point area from the Prop M cap. It does not change the Prop M cap elsewhere in the city. This is a complementary measure to the 2008 jobs, parks, and housing initiative and will allow this historically undeveloped area to share in the prosperity of the rest of San Francisco. Vote Yes on O.
Proposition P: Competitive Bidding for Affordable Housing Development on City Owned Property. No. Sponsored by the local Board of Realtors, this voter initiative requires a minimum of three competitive bids for any affordable housing development on city-owned land. This kind of "in the weeds" meddling in process does not belong in a voter-approved law that can only be modified by returning to the voters. It is not clear what evil the sponsors are trying to solve as the city already has a rigorous bidding process, and it is not always easy to find three qualified bids to build affordable housing. Vote No on P.
Proposition Q: Prohibiting Tents on Public Sidewalks. No. This is a measure born out of frustration rather than a serious attempt to solve the tent encampment issue and by extension homelessness. It amends the police code to direct the police to clear out tent encampments after 24 hours notice. The catch is there must be available alternative housing or shelter with social services, and currently there aren't such alternatives available. And the city already has such a policy in place but is stymied by the lack of available housing. This may be a feel good measure for some, but for us it's just another unnecessary wedge. Vote No on Q.
Proposition R: Neighborhood Crime Unit. No. This measure mandates the creation of a Neighborhood Crime Unit dedicating 3 percent of the police force (about 60 officers) to it, specifically focused on neighborhood crime. This does not belong on the ballot. The mayor and the chief of police already support a neighborhood crime unit and have the power through staff assignments to implement it. Department staffing decisions are best made by the mayor and the department head involved and should not be locked into law by voter initiative. Vote No on R.
Proposition S: Allocation of Hotel Tax Funds. Yes. This measure restores a historic covenant between the city and San Francisco's arts and homeless advocates. The hotel tax fund dates to 1961 and was promoted by Mayor George Christopher as the primary funding mechanism to promote tourism through art and culture. It had a homeless services component as well, which as everyone knows impacts tourism. Specific percentage allocations were enacted in 1982 but over the years, mayors and boards of supervisors have eaten away at this vital support. This measure restores that support. Vote Yes on S.
Proposition T: Restricting Lobbyist Gifts and Campaign Contributions. No. This is another measure that does not belong on the ballot. We are firmly in favor of limiting the influence of money in politics and for assuring transparency when any goods, services, or money change hands between lobbyists and elected officials. But this measure casts too wide a net and in some cases even appears a trap for the unwary nonprofit organization. Necessary reform should go through the legislative process. It should be fully vetted in open meeting and signed off by the Board of Supervisors and the mayor and be subject to amendment or modification if unforeseen consequences arise. Vote No on T.
Proposition U: Income Qualifications for Affordable Housing. No. The city's inclusionary housing program requires developers to include a certain number of low-income units (as defined as 55 percent of Area Median Income) and affordable units (100 percent of AMI) in new projects. Rental units can count against this requirement at rents set by the Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development at 30 percent of those two income levels. This proposition would increase income eligibility on all new on-site and existing inclusionary rental housing to 110 percent of Area Median Income and would change the way individual rents are calculated based on the renter's individual income rather than a percentage of AMI. We do not support this for several reasons. One, it does not create one additional unit of affordable housing. Two, by combining low-income with affordable income levels, low-income housing will be eliminated in favor of the higher level affordable; and three, this is a complex issue that is best decided through the normal legislative process and not at the ballot box. Vote No on U.
Proposition V: Soda and Sugary Beverages Tax. Yes. We supported this measure the last time it was on the ballot, and we support it again. Although it was supported by a majority of voters, it failed to receive the necessary 2/3 vote because it designated the use of the money raised through the tax. This measure does not earmark the tax receipts, which will now go to the general fund, so only 50 percent is required for passage. Otherwise the measure is the same as last time. Vote Yes on V.
Proposition W: Real Estate Transfer Tax on Properties Over $5 Million. Yes. This measure would increase the real estate property transfer tax from 2 percent to 2.25 percent on properties sold for more than $5 million; from 2.5 percent to 2.75 percent for properties sold for more than $10 million; and 3 percent for properties over $25 million. This would apply to all properties no matter how title is held (such as a trust or limited partnership). These funds have been identified as possible sources of revenue to fund making City College tuition free and for the sidewalk and tree maintenance program. We believe this is a reasonable measure to fund necessary services that falls on those most able to pay. Vote Yes on W.
Proposition X: Replacement Space Requirement for Manufacturing and Arts Space. No. This is another measure that has no business on the ballot. We sympathize with the sponsors that manufacturing and arts spaces being displaced by development, particularly in the Mission and South of Market areas, need to be protected and replaced. But this measure imposes by law zoning requirements that should go through the normal legislative process. Legislators, do your job. Vote No on X.
Measure RR: BART Bond. Yes. This measure would authorize BART to issue $3.5 billion in general obligation bonds to fund core system renewal projects, including track replacement, tunnel repair, and computer and electrical system upgrades to allow more frequent and reliable service. It would be backed by a levy on property through the three-county BART district (San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa). An efficient BART is crucial to the region in the 21st century. Vote Yes on RR.
October 6, 2016 endorsements
Editorial: Our choices for SF supervisor
San Francisco voters who live in supervisorial Districts 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11 have a chance to dramatically change city government when they go to the polls next month. Presently, the board comprises six progressives and five moderates, resulting in some tension between the supervisors and the mayor. The outcome could flip the board's majority to the moderates. There are also 24 local measures on the ballot, and we'll be explaining those recommendations later this month.
For now, we recommend the candidates listed below for supervisor.
District 1: Sandra Lee Fewer
Sandra Lee Fewer has served on the San Francisco school board for eight years and, in that time, has spearheaded changes in the school district, some of which have helped LGBT students. The mother of a gay son, Fewer was an impressive candidate in our editorial board meeting, demonstrating a solid understanding of city government and the issues affecting the Richmond district, which has a majority of renters – 60 percent – and many seniors.
Housing is a top concern for Fewer. She pointed to Airbnb regulation, which she maintains needs to be decided by the board and not at the ballot box. While on the school board, Fewer authored a resolution allowing evicted students to remain in their school until the end of the year. "I've never seen a wealth gap this large," she said of the city's affordability crisis. She organized the effort to build 115 units of affordable housing on school district surplus property.
Fewer sees her work as a balancing act. And that comes through in her views on police accountability. Significantly, her husband is a retired San Francisco police officer, which gives her a unique dual insight into the complex problems confronting the department over excessive force, shooting deaths, and the other scandals that have plagued SFPD. She supports Proposition G, which would give more power to the Office of Citizen Complaints, including authority over its own budget and performance audits to examine how SFPD handles claims of officer misconduct and use of force. Fewer questions the outsized role of the SF Police Officers Association and why it's the only bargaining unit. "Let's hear from other groups," she said, referring to affiliate police associations for officers of color, LGBTs, and others.
Her husband, she said, was in a police shooting while on the force. "I think it took 10 years off his life," she said.
She does not approve of the POA's recent ad campaign and newsletter snafu (in which it made fun of Black Lives Matter by showing a dog with the caption, "Black Labs Matter").
"Black Lives Matter was born out of death," she said, accusing the POA of "mocking" serious issues with the dog photo. "It's completely insensitive."
Yet Fewer praised beat officers for the tough job they have. "It's hard to serve the public when they're hating you," she said.
Fewer believes in shared governance, taking various positions on local ballot measures. And she believes that the Board of Supervisors has shirked its responsibilities at times. Last year's Proposition F, the Airbnb measure, "should have never been on the ballot," she said.
On schools, she's adamant that there be "no two-tiered system," she said. "Public transparency has to be equitable."
Overall, Fewer impressed us with her deep understanding of the city and its myriad issues. We think she'll vote on the issues as she sees them, and not be beholden to special interests, whether moderate or progressive.
We liked her commitment to confront the issues facing our city and her willingness to listen.
District 3: Aaron Peskin
When Aaron Peskin returned to the Board of Supervisors after winning election last year to complete the term of former colleague David Chiu, the board immediately lurched left. Facing only token opposition for a full four-year term this year, it's clear that Peskin will continue to be a force in city politics. Yet he doesn't always toe the progressive line, and, in fact, has taken on issues outside of his North Beach district, most notably the sinking and leaning Millennium Tower in the South of Market area. Expect to hear much more as Peskin leads the board's inquiry into what city planners and inspectors knew during the tower's construction.
He supports the ballot measures that would rein in the mayor's power, noting that shared governance has worked on bodies such as the planning and police commissions. Ballot measures this year would allow supervisors to appoint three members of the Municipal Transportation Agency's board (Prop L) and create a new commission to oversee housing and development (Prop M). The mayor's housing office, Peskin said, spends billions of dollars yet there is no public access to discuss affordable housing and other projects.
We may not always agree with Peskin, but he has elevated the tone of the board and taken on issues that might not have received adequate attention.
District 5: London Breed
Board of Supervisors President London Breed has demonstrated leadership during her first term. As the supervisor for one of the city's most progressive districts that includes the Haight and Western Addition, Breed, who grew up in public housing, has not forgotten her roots in the neighborhood.
"I am affected by crime," she said. "My community wants the police there, but they want respect from the police and that takes time."
She praised acting police Chief Toney Chaplin, and said that while she doesn't know him well, she likes what he's doing around implicit bias training. "He's changing the conversation," she said, adding that she had joined with Supervisor Malia Cohen to sponsor Prop G, the police oversight measure.
On housing, Breed has fought to keep people in their homes and in their neighborhoods, worked to prevent rent increases, and developed and supported creative ideas to build more affordable housing. She scored a big win recently when she successfully took on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which had tried to end her legislation prioritizing neighborhood residency preferences in housing projects. Now there will be a pilot program for those preferences. She wrote the legislation requiring developers to include the highest amount of affordable housing in city history in the Divisadero and Fillmore corridors.
She is a strong ally of the LGBT community, often working with gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener. She has secured funding for numerous youth programs, including Larkin Street Youth Services, which serves LGBTQ young people, and the Homeless Youth Alliance.
Breed has also worked on environmental issues, including taking the lead on CleanPowerSF, "the single most important thing San Francisco can do to combat climate change," her website noted. Going forward, Breed plans to work on source reduction and education to get the city to zero waste, efficiency improvements, and litter and runoff reduction programs. Breed authored and passed legislation – the third in the nation – to provide safe, convenient disposal of unwanted medications, a program that has already kept over 32 tons of pharmaceuticals out of the bay or landfill, according to her website.
"I feel in my heart I've done a good job as supervisor," she told us. "At the end of the day I feel confident of my record."
We think Breed is an excellent supervisor who has created positive change for her district – and the city.
District 7 (ranked): 1: Norman Yee, 2: Joel Engardio
If Breed is viewed by some as "too moderate" for her district, Norman Yee is the opposite, some view him as too progressive for the more conservative West Side. Nonetheless, he faces few challengers and will likely win re-election. We haven't always agreed with his positions, but he does demonstrate concern for neighborhoods. His constituents don't want clusters of medical cannabis dispensaries and they don't want short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods. They do want safer streets and an equitable share of the city's budget. Yee has delivered on those issues.
He held the first hearing on pedestrian safety and secured an additional $450,000 in recent years to address safety issues in District 7 and expedite safety measures along Sloat Boulevard, according to his website.
He worked with the SF MTA board to implement the free Muni for seniors and people with disabilities program and joined city officials and residents to help small businesses, including the formation of a community benefit district and the Taste of West Portal event.
Yee's most viable challenger is Joel Engardio, a columnist and gay man who ran against him four years ago. He is campaigning on a platform of reducing the city's budget. He's trying to build a larger coalition this time around, and told us that the district has a lot of same-sex couples. He said that 15 percent of District 7 voters moved there in the last five years.
He is in favor of more housing, particularly along transit corridors. Housing creates demand for retail, he noted. About 70 percent of district residents are homeowners, the opposite of the rest of the city, he said.
On public safety, Engardio wants the police department to continue working on reforms that former Chief Greg Suhr initiated. "We all need each other," he said.
Engardio says his campaign is about connecting with the community, adding that if elected he would be responsive to his constituents.
Yee seems to have the backing of District 7 residents, but Engardio also represents a sizable number of them who are concerned with runaway spending. Either would be a good choice.
District 9 (ranked): 1: Joshua Arce, 2: Hillary Ronen
District 9, which includes the Mission, will get a new representative as David Campos, a gay man who has served eight years, is termed off the Board of Supervisors. Campos has had a mixed record in office, and we haven't always agreed with him. Candidates vying to succeed him are distinguishing themselves from his term.
Our first choice is civil rights attorney Joshua Arce, who impressed us with his platform of more affordable housing, increased support for local businesses, and improved public transportation.
Raised with Latino traditions, Arce, who speaks Spanish – along with several other languages – describes himself as a "progressive moderate," leading some to wonder where he fits in along the city's famously liberal spectrum. But we think Arce would be a good fit for the district.
He wants to see more housing built in the district, which hasn't seen significant new residential development – at all levels, he said. "District 9 has been a political dynasty in many ways," he told us. "I'm anti-establishment. Our district isn't for sale."
He noted the "wave of fires" that occurred in the Mission, and criticized Campos for dragging his feet on an ordinance to require sprinklers in residential buildings. "I've already got the ordinance written," said Arce, adding it would be ready on Day 1.
He raised questions about Campos' ill-fated moratorium on housing development in the Mission, saying it banned investment in affordable housing and had other problems, though he did support it on the ballot. He bemoaned the fact that there has been no long-term planning in District 9 and the missed opportunities as a result.
Arce is an ally of the LGBT community and has a trans brother-in-law. He said it's important to appoint qualified LGBTs to the city's numerous boards and commissions.
We weren't planning to recommend a second choice in this race, but Hillary Ronen surprised us with her energy and commitment. A longtime aide to Campos, Ronen now has to answer a lot for her boss' policies. But she knew that would be the case when she decided to run for the seat.
"I do want to say I take very seriously being a white woman in a Latino district and a straight woman in an LGBT-centric district," Ronen, who is fluent in Spanish, told us. "I am very committed to having LGBT representation in my office. I'm going to make the LGBT community the forefront. There's more to do than ever."
She pointed to her work on the LGBTQ adult homeless shelter that Campos spearheaded. (One of his best moments as a supervisor was calling a hearing on LGBTs and homeless shelters, which shined a light on the awful homophobia and transphobia that the city has yet to fully address as it seeks to reboot its homeless services.) The shelter project took years, mostly due to permit and construction issues, but now provides beds for 24 people.
Ronen has sought to differentiate herself from her boss. "I love David, but you're not the same person as your boss. I'm going to the board new. Politics is a long game; there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies," she said. "I'm a woman – a mother. I'm different."
She supports the Bryant Street housing project, which Arce opposes, noting that it will create over 200 market rate and 189 affordable units that will be built at the same time. She said the moratorium is a dead issue.
"I don't want to stop good projects," she said, adding that there are 750 units in the pipeline in the Mission right now. She said Campos' office is working on the sprinkler ordinance.
All in all, District 9 residents would be served well by either Arce or Ronen. We're giving the nod to Arce because he has some big ideas (BART at 30th and Mission) and a lot of enthusiasm. But Ronen would also be a solid pick.
District 11 (ranked): 1: Ahsha Safai, 2: Kimberly Alvarenga
The Excelsior, Ingleside, Outer Mission and other neighborhoods that make up District 11 will also get a new supervisor as John Avalos is termed out of office. The leading candidates are both union officials: Ahsha Safai, a straight father who ran eight years ago, and Kimberly Alvarenga, a Latina lesbian mom making her first bid at public office.
Both candidates said that getting an equitable share of the city's budget is a priority. Safai fought to secure $4 million in funding – mostly from a trust – to revitalize Balboa Park and said the project was desperately needed due to the high concentration of kids under 18 who live in the district. He also worked to protect the Mission Child Care Consortium, to secure and rebuild St. Luke's Hospital, to limit the spread of medical cannabis dispensaries, and to create more affordable housing.
He said that he would be a strong voice for HIV funding, and continuing the city's Getting to Zero initiative to dramatically decrease HIV transmission, and supports services for LGBT youth.
But mostly, he's running to be a neighborhood supervisor, and said residents have voiced frustration over the status quo.
Alvarenga would be the first lesbian elected to the board in 16 years. She was raised in the Mission but has lived in the Excelsior since 2008. A former aide to gay Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, Alvarenga has a lot of policy experience that would be put to good use at the board. She, too, bemoaned the state of the district's parks and wants to see funding increased. Noting that voters passed Prop B in June to put park funding back at prior levels, Alvarenga said the measure "needs teeth." "We need to start advocating for it," she said. "We need more Rec and Park clubhouses in the district that has the most kids."
On public safety, Alvarenga's a proponent of community policing, and told us that officers need to get out of their cars, get to know residents, and conduct foot patrols.
Describing herself as a "nuts and bolts" supervisor, Alvarenga said she would institute office hours in different neighborhoods to hear residents' concerns because District 11 is largely made up of working class families, who often can't afford to take time off from work to attend daytime board meetings.
"I'm not just one thing," she told us." I'm a mom, Latina, LGBT. That's what makes me a unique candidate."
Either candidate would bring a neighborhood focus to District 11. Safai is our first choice because he has a track record in the district. But Alvarenga has the experience of working in government, and has worked on issues such as increasing the minimum wage and paid sick days that should resonate with voters.