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    A City, and a Party, Worth Fighting For

    By Peter Gallotta–

    If someone had told me 15 years ago that one day I would be living in San Francisco and running for elected office, I would have told them they had the wrong person. For a million reasons, I never thought this would be my life story. Yet in October of last year, I found myself in the basement of City Hall officially pulling papers to run for the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC).

    I moved to San Francisco ten years ago because I wanted to be a part of creating social change. I came, like many before me, as a queer social justice activist, drawn to this countercultural, idealistic little city that seemed hell bent on being one thing and one thing only: itself. In an instant, I knew it was for me.

    Not long after, I found myself showing up every Wednesday afternoon for my first volunteer gig: handing out literature to passersby at the Castro Farmers’ Market. Weeks before, I had met a man named Rafael Mandelman, who I quickly learned was running for Supervisor in the Castro District for the first time. I had never met an LGBT politician before, much less a candidate for office who was talking about the need for social and economic justice. I decided to help out.

    Like clockwork, every Wednesday, myself and another volunteer, Donna, would set up an ironing board with literature and campaign signs and we would talk to voters. I knew very little about San Francisco politics, other than some notable names: Willie Brown, Dianne Feinstein, Harvey Milk (of course). In between solicitations, Donna, who was also a New York transplant and had lived in San Francisco for a long time, would school me on who was who in progressive politics. During one of her lessons, I remember her talking about this thing called the “D-triple-C.” I had no idea what it meant.

    I realize it now, but being at that farmers’ market every week, I got to do something that I loved: talk to people about the issues they cared about. Standing out there on those cold, windy afternoons, I listened and I learned. I pitched people on my ideas. And I heard theirs, too. I savored every “Yes, I’ll vote for him” response. And picked myself back up after every stern “No.” I registered countless friends and strangers to vote, and armed them with voter guides and directions on where and when to vote. I stood out there, week after week, not because it was particularly fun or easy, but because I believed it mattered. I believed the San Francisco I loved was worth fighting for.

    Last Saturday morning, I found myself standing on the periphery of the Noe Valley Farmers’ Market on 24th Street. No ironing board this time, but just with campaign literature in tow, I greeted the morning passersby. “Hi, I’m Peter Gallotta, and I’m running for the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee.”

    While it’s still hard for me to believe that I’m a candidate now, what hasn’t changed all these years later is my belief that every election, and every vote, matters.

    The “D-triple-C,” as I now know, is one of those elected bodies that few voters are readily familiar with or even aware of. One of the most common questions I have been asked by friends and family during this campaign is, “What are you running for again?”

    The Democratic County Central Committee is better known, colloquially, as the San Francisco Democratic Party or “the Party.” Every county in California actually has local “county committees” for established political parties. When Democratic candidates are running for local office and want the endorsement of the Democratic Party, the 24 elected members of the body, who collectively represent over 280,000 Democrats, get to vote on who gets endorsed. In a deep blue city like San Francisco, that’s a pretty big deal, but it’s not all the DCCC does.

    The San Francisco Democratic Party is about our values. What do we stand for as San Francisco Democrats? Do we stand with profit-driven developers and the real estate lobby, or do we stand with tenants and communities at risk of displacement? Do we stand up to big corporations like JUUL, or do we let them try to buy an election? Will we look the other way, or will we hold the wealthiest corporations accountable and ask that they pay their fair share for housing, homelessness, and supportive services for those who need them?

    That is why I’m running for the DCCC on March 3, 2020. I believe we need a San Francisco Democratic Party that’s beholden to the community, not to corporate interests. We need a Party that is going to stand up to the status quo and push for bold, transformative change for our city, and our country.

    In 2017, I had the honor of being appointed to the DCCC by then-Chair Cindy Wu, and I have relished this opportunity to serve. Over the past three years, I am proud to have sponsored or co-authored over 40 resolutions ensuring that our Party takes a progressive and vocal stance on climate justice, workers’ rights, healthcare, and reproductive rights, especially as Trump continues to attack everything we stand for.

    As a grassroots activist, I have been committed to making the Party more visible, relevant, and accessible in the lives of San Francisco Democrats. I’m proud of the work we did in 2018 alongside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to open the Red to Blue SF headquarters and galvanize hundreds of San Francisco Democrats to make phone calls and texts to flip the House of Representatives blue and send the most diverse Democratic majority in history to Washington.

    If elected in March, this is exactly the kind of work that I want to continue to do: grow our grassroots engagement, build greater awareness of the Party’s work, and get more Democrats engaged in the political process locally and nationally.

    But having a Party that’s active and effective is not enough. The San Francisco Democratic Party must reflect our communities and be represented by working people, immigrants, people of color, women, and LGBTQ+ people. And that is why I’m proud to be running alongside 23 Democratic Party activists and leaders who reflect the diversity of San Francisco.

    Together, we are the Social Justice Democrats, and we are fighting for a more affordable, equitable, and just San Francisco that puts the needs of everyday San Franciscans first.

    We are: John Avalos, David Campos, Bevan Dufty, Peter Gallotta, Matt Haney, Frances Hsieh, Anabell Ibanez, Jane Kim, Honey Mahogany, Rafael Mandelman , Sophie Maxwell, Hillary Ronen, Shamann Walton, and Shanell Williams for Assembly District 17 (vote for up to 14). And Keith Baraka, Queena Chen, Kelly Groth, Leah LaCroix, Janice Li, Li Mao Lovett, Gordon Mar, Faauuga Moliga, Mano Raju, and AJ Thomas for Assembly District 19 (vote for up to 10).

    Look for our names on your ballot and please join me in voting for Democrats up and down the ballot on March 3rd. We need a local Democratic Party that’s committed to rolling up its sleeves and doing the work it takes to stop Trump and inspire San Francisco Democrats to take action.

    No matter what happens on March 3rd, I’ll still be out there—at bus stops, at BART stations, and at farmers’ markets—making sure you get out to vote. Thank you, San Francisco, for this opportunity to do what I never imagined I could. To run, to be me, and to continue to fight for what I believe in.

    Learn more: https://petergallotta.org/

    Peter Gallotta is a 30-something LGBT political activist holding on to the city that he loves thanks to rent control and two-for-one happy hour specials. He is a former President of the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club and currently serves as an appointed member of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee and an elected delegate to the California Democratic Party.

    Published on February 13, 2020