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    Election Day 2019: Thoughts and Recommendations

    By Louise “Lou” Fischer–

    November 5 is another Election Day in San Francisco. While it’s not the momentous “most important election ever in the history of the United States” that next year will be, there are a few juicy tidbits to get excited about. 

    There are two nail-biting competitive races: district attorney and supervisor of District 5 (which includes the Inner Sunset, Haight-Ashbury, Fillmore/Western Addition, Japantown and surrounding areas). Vallie Brown, longtime activist and former legislative aide for the district (10 years!) was appointed to the supervisor seat by Mayor Breed. Per the San Francisco charter, she must run in the next upcoming election, which is this one. I’m a huge fan of Vallie; she has the credibility from working in the district for over 10 years, and she has the knowledge and can-do attitude to be successful for the constituents of D5.

    Regarding the district attorney contest, current DA George Gascon decided not to run again, thereby making this the first time in 109 years that there has not been an incumbent in the race. We haven’t had a competitive DA race since William Howard Taft, the portly president with the rocking handlebar mustache, was in office! I’m rooting for former assistant district attorney Suzy Loftus. She is the most qualified candidate in the race, and she sees a way forward to fixing our broken criminal justice system by balancing the concerns of both safety and justice in San Francisco. I’ll be doing an in-depth report of both races in an upcoming column, so stay tuned!

    Mayor London Breed joined affordable housing advocates, activists, residents and civic leaders on Saturday, September 7, at 10th & Mission Family Housing for the “Yes on Prop A” campaign kickoff event.

    There are seven other candidate races in this upcoming election, but those who are running have no viable competition. All but one are incumbents, so try not to fall asleep when you fill out your ballot. Here’s the lineup and my thoughts on the presumed “shoo-in” candidates.

    Mayor

    Mayor London Breed is running against … other people. I don’t know any of them; you probably don’t know any either. Mayor Breed is a San Francisco gem. She’s done more in one year than many of her predecessors did in full terms. The last mayor that excited me this much was Dianne Feinstein. I guess the “sisters” just know how to get stuff done.  

    City Attorney

    Dennis Herrera, the hero of gay marriage, is running for his 6th term. He must really like that job and there’s no reason to fire him, so vote for him again.

    Public Defender

    Manohar Raju, who stepped in after the sudden death of Jeff Adachi, is running for a full term. From what I’ve heard, he’s well-respected, so vote for him.

    Sheriff

    Sheriff Vicki Hennessy, who is eligible for another term, has opted to retire. I love Vicki; she stepped in when the city really needed her. We owe her a debt of gratitude for bringing respect back to the Department. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it certainly trended upward during her period of leadership. Paul Miyamoto, current Chief Deputy, is running unopposed. He seems like a nice guy who will do a good job, so vote for him.

    Treasurer

    Jose Cisneros, one of San Francisco’s few remaining LGBT elected officials (we really need to work on this!), is running for another term. He has done some great work since being appointed by then Mayor Newsom in 2004, so vote for him again. 

    Board of Education

    Jenny Lam was recently appointed by Mayor Breed to fill the spot vacated by Matt Haney when he prevailed in the D6 supervisor race. She’s very smart and has a good background. Vote for her.

    Community College Board

    In another “shifting of the chess pieces,” Ivy Lee was appointed by the Mayor to fill in for Rafael Mandelman as he ascended to the Board of Supervisors. Ivy was an interesting choice; she was an aide to former supervisor Jane Kim, who ran against London for mayor, so props for Mayor Breed for reaching “across the aisle” to appoint a worthy successor to Rafael. Ivy has a great background and worked hard to get the “Free City College” program across the finish line. Be a good egg and vote for her.   

    There are six ballot measures to vote on and let’s all say a “Hallelujah and praise Jesus, Moses, Allah and the Goddess” that we only have six and not the mind-numbing 26 that we had in the past. There are two measures, Props A and C, that are extremely important and deserve attention. Not to diminish the importance of the remaining four, but Props A and C are the main event for this election. 

    Vote YES on Props A, B, D, E, F

    Proposition A: This is the most important “Yes” vote. It will allow the city to sell $600 million of bonds to build, rehabilitate, or acquire affordable housing in San Francisco. If all goes well, it will add 2,800 new affordable housing units in the next four years. It’s also the first time since William H. Taft was president that the mayor and Board of Supervisors have agreed on anything in San Francisco (OK, I made that part up, but it *might* be true). I attended the recent kick-off and asked Mayor Breed why this proposition was so important to her, and she said it better than I can: “Too many residents and families are struggling with the high cost of housing in our city. We have to pass Prop A to create more affordable housing for seniors, low-income, middle-income and public housing residents. This historic investment in affordable housing will make a difference for San Franciscans across our city.”

    Proposition B: Renaming the existing “Department of Aging and Adult Services” to “Disability and Aging Services” is supposed to clarify the meaning and mission of this department and commission for residents. I’m not sure if that’s the case. I still don’t know what they do, but I recently got a Senior Citizen discount, so I might need this someday soon.

    Proposition D: The Traffic Mitigation Congestion Tax would put a tax on every Lyft and Uber ride to provide funds for transit improvement. If you are frustrated by the increase in traffic, you should vote Yes.

    Proposition E: This would help to expedite affordable and educator housing on public land. During the housing crisis, anything with the word “housing” in the title should get a Yes. 

    Proposition F: Prop E targets campaign contributions and advertisements by mandating that independent expenditure committees disclose who is funding the IE.  This is a tough one; it makes sense “on paper”, but having managed an IE for 5 years, it puts a huge burden on volunteer-led political clubs. I’ll probably still vote Yes.

    VOTE NO on Proposition C

    Proposition C: Prop C would repeal the ban on e-cigarettes. My friend Chasel says to think of this as “voting No on the murder of teenagers.” A “No” vote upholds the ban passed by the Board of Supervisors on the sale of e-cigarettes. Vote No. I was originally on the fence on this one—civil liberties, freedom of choice and all of that—but after I met the spokesperson for JUUL, who implied “we don’t need FDA approval, our products are safe,” I’m firmly in the “No” camp. If JUUL wants to sell their products in San Francisco, they can get approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which they’ll never be able to get because, to no one’s surprise, e-cigarettes are really dangerous and nicotine is heavily additive. Marketing death sticks to teenagers so you can make a boatload of money should result in a one-way ticket to hell. Vote No on C.  

    Stay tuned in two weeks for more in-depth election-related coverage!

    Louise (Lou) Fischer is a Former Co-Chair of the Board of Directors for the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club and has served as an appointed and elected Delegate for the State Democratic Party. She is a proud graduate of the Emerge California Women’s Democratic Leadership program, was a San Francisco Commissioner and has served in leadership positions in multiple nonprofit and community-based organizations.