After a few years of complacency, I've gotten involved with politics again the past year or so. Last fall, I volunteered with Tom Ammiano's mayoral campaign. I volunteered with Californians for Justice, a group that worked against both Prop 21, the youth criminalization proposition, and Prop 22, the anti-Gay Marriage proposition.
Now it's the fall of 2000, and here's some of the stuff I'm fired up about.
This is the first time in 20 years that San Francisco has had district elections for county supervisors. The city and county of San Francisco are one and the same -- there's no city council, only the board of supervisors. Before this fall, the supervisors ran for office city-wide, and the top vote-getters became supervisors.
Now the city's been divided up into odd-shaped districts, and one supervisor will be elected out of each one.
This should mean that neighborhoods have more of a voice in city politics. But unfortunately, there is no cap on soft money spending, and there is a danger that people may get elected who will just be doing mayor Willie Brown's bidding automatically.
There is a group in San Francisco called the Alice B. Toklas Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club. It is not a real grass-roots organization. Its financial officer is a highly paid political consultant named Robert Barnes. The club worked against Tom Ammiano's bid for mayor. But now they're endorsing a slate of candidates and labeling it a "lavender sweep." There's really not much point in electing gay people if they're not real progressives though, is there? One of the people whose picture they have on their billboard in the Castro is Tom Ammiano. But the rest are not the people who Ammiano endorsed -- they are people endorsed by Willie Brown who happen to be homosexuals. The billboard could mislead people into thinking that Ammiano is endorsing these people when he's not.
In district 5, which includes the Haight, where I live, the Brown/Alice candidate is Juanita Owens, who supported school privatization while on the School board -- not a progressive position! I support Matt Gonzalez for district 5; he's a lawyer in the Public Defender's Office and publishes poetry books.
In District 8, including the Castro, there's Brown appointee Mark Leno. I support long-term progressive activist Eileen Hansen.
In District 6, Soma, the Tenderloin, and parts of the Mission northeast of 17th & Guerrero, there's one of worst of the Alice endorsees, Chris Dittenhafer, whose main campaign item is trying to get prop M passed for the cab companies -- he took money from the companies to print a mailer. And Dittenhafer moved into the district at the last minute. There are progressive alternatives, including queer candidate Hank Wilson, who's done activism in the area for years, and helped found many gay and AIDS organizations. Chris Daly of Mission Agenda is another great progressive candidate in Distrct 6.
And that's just the candidates. There's also various propositions on the ballot, including Proposition L, which would close loopholes and limit new office space, which I support. The mayor put together a weakened version, Prop K - so vote no on K. Prop H is a pro-renter measure which limits landlords passing on major improvement costs to tenants. Prop N would only allow condo conversions if a tenant wanted to buy their own unit. So you can see it's important to get out there and vote. Your continued existence in San Francisco could be at stake.
By the way, I support Ralph Nader for President and Medea Benjamin, the Green Party candidate for Senate. I think it's important that the Green party get five percent of the vote so they'll be eligible for federal matching funds and will have more of a voice in future elections.
Articles from the SF Bay Guardian on Barnes, Alice, the candiadates, etc:
Save queer S.F.: vote straight
Direct mail double-talk
The Wrecking Crew
Unsafe at Any Speed
Larry-bob's Generic Queer Homepage Introduction
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