At a meeting lasting about four hours last night [Wed/13], the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee, the steering committee of the city’s Democratic Party, decided on its endorsements for the Nov. 4 election.
A lengthy round of voting followed nearly two hours of public comment, in which San Franciscans chimed in on everything from school board nominations to Proposition L, a motorist-friendly proposal that amounts to a step backward for the city’s transit-first policy. (The formal oppositional campaign slogan is “No on Gridlock, No on L,” but opponents who spoke at the meeting shortened it to the edgier “’L No.”).
Prop. L went down handily. Prop. E, the sugary-beverage tax, easily won the DCCC’s endorsement, as did Prop. J, the proposal to increase the city’s minimum wage.
But Prop. G – a measure crafted to stem the tide of Ellis Act evictions, known as the anti-speculation tax – was a close contest.
Before the DCCC members got down to the business of voting, many local advocates voiced support for Prop. G.
Housing activists lined up across the room while Dean Preston, executive director of Tenants Together, called for meaningful action on the city’s housing affordability crisis.
But the proponents’ show of support was followed by the opposite plea from a second group, which included a contingent of Asian property owners, who crowded into the front of the room to tell DCCC members that they felt the proposed increase was unfair. “We don’t deserve this!” A speaker said, conveying anger and frustration. “Look at our faces, we work hard for our properties.”
In the end, the vote came down to four abstentions, 13 votes for “no endorsement,” and 15 votes in support, tipping the scales in favor of Prop. G by a tiny margin.
Among those who abstained on that vote were Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Jackie Speier, and Assemblymember Phil Ting, all of whom voted by proxies. Sup. Scott Wiener voted “no endorsement,” while Sup. Malia Cohen abstained.
Decisions in the races for Board of Education and the city’s Community College Board were time-consuming, since it took several elimination rounds before the final candidate lists were settled.
The school board candidates to emerge with DCCC endorsements were Shamann Walton, Emily Murase, and Trevor McNeil. Notably, that list didn’t include Hydra Mendoza, an incumbent who also serves as education advisor to Mayor Ed Lee.
Endorsements for Community College Board, meanwhile, went to Amy Bacharach for a two-year term, and Thea Selby, Anita Grier, and Rodrigo Santos for four-year terms.
Things got interesting in the contest for BART board of directors, between longtime Republican director James Fang and a well-funded Democrat, Nick Josefowitz, who is in his early 30s.
The vote was complicated since SEIU Local 1021, a labor union with a long history of backing progressive causes in San Francisco, is pulling for Fang, who supported workers during last year’s BART strike. Yet Josefowitz has the backing of other progressive organizations, including the Sierra Club. “I think that BART needs new blood,” Sierra Club representative Rebecca Evans said during public comment.
In the end, the DCCC voted “no endorsement,” with that selection getting 17 votes, five abstaining, and 10 voting in favor of Josefowitz. The votes followed a round of comments.
“The Democratic Party is a means to an end,” DCCC member Rafael Mandelman said. “And the end that we are using the Democratic Party to achieve is a more socially just and better world… There are few local entities [to advance that] than SEIU Local 1021. I think it is acceptable for us to take ‘no’ position in this race.”
Several piped up to say they thought Josefowitz deserved the endorsement of the Democratic Party simply because he’s a viable candidate and registered Democrat in a race against a Republican.
But DCCC member Arlo Hale Smith weighed in to critique of Fang’s performance as a director. “I used to hold this BART Board seat 24 years ago,” Smith said. “He’s missed a third of the meetings and he doesn’t return phone calls. He hasn’t returned my calls in a year. This is not the kind of person who should be reelected. Period.”
In races for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and citywide offices, endorsements went to incumbents Carmen Chu for assessor-recorder, Jeff Adachi for public defender, Sups. Mark Farrell for District 2, Katy Tang for District 4, Jane Kim for District 6, Wiener for District 8, and Malia Cohen for District 10. No second- or third-place endorsements were made in the Board of Supervisors races despite multiple challengers.
Just before voting for endorsements began, DCCC member Alix Rosenthal admonished her colleagues for scant attendance during the candidate endorsement interviews, which were held the previous Saturday. "Only 12 out of 32 people showed up for interviews," she noted. Half-jokingly, she added, "I know Outside Lands was happening."