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    Election Day Cometh

    zoeTuesday, November 4, is Election Day here in California. This year brings the opportunity to elect or re-elect all of our statewide constitutional officers: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Treasurer, Controller, Insurance Commissioner and Superintendent of Public Instruction. If there is a Democratic sweep (as expected), five of these eight elected positions, including some of the most powerful (Governor, Attorney General), will come from the Bay Area. Not to mention that our two Senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, are also from the Bay Area.

    The sweep would be a testament to the strength of the Bay Area’s political bench and power of the local Democratic Party County Central Committees support of our candidates and ability to get out the vote. Also, as they say in the song “New York, New York”— if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. The fact that California Democratic Party Chair John Burton lives in San Francisco does not hurt. (Although it’s not widely known that he, Mark Leno and I all grew up in Milwaukee, just not at the same time!)

    I have previously written in my column about various candidates for local office. In summary, here are my endorsements for some of the more competitive races:

    David Chiu for Assembly District 17: I feel he is more effective at bringing together multiple perspectives and creating pragmatic legislations, which will be critically important in Sacramento as one of a body of 80 Assemblymembers.

    Mark Murphy, Shamann Walton and Emily Murase for School Board: Emily has been an effective Commissioner on the board, and I am impressed with the passion, knowledge and commitment of the two newcomers, Mark and Shamann. Additionally, Mark Murphy would be the first gay man on the School Board in many years and brings a perspective currently missing.

    Thea Selby, Amy Bacharach, and Rodrigo Santos for Community College Board: Thea and Amy were both in my Emerge California training cohort and were two of my closest friends and colleagues in the program, which trains Democratic women to run for and win elected office. Rodrigo brings a much-needed understanding of finance, governance and controls, which will help ensure the sustainability and viability of our City College.

    The local propositions can be confusing. I have received literally dozens of mailers from various campaigns these past four weeks, and rarely do they paint a complete picture. I’ll highlight a few here that I think are important to San Francisco.

    Propositions A and B will go a long way to providing the resources needed to make Muni more functional. I have shared the frustration with my fellow Muni riders—unreliable bus schedules, lengthy wait times, poor service. I empathize with those who are hesitant to throw more money at a system that is broken, but I also know it won’t fix itself without addressing its infrastructure needs. Prop A allows the City to issue general obligation bonds and to use this money to implement many of the infrastructure repairs and improvements identified by the Transportation Task Force. These include the construction of transit-only lanes and separated bikeways, installation of new boarding islands, accessible platforms, escalators at Muni/BART stops, pedestrian signals and bicycle parking, and the upgrade of our Muni maintenance facilities. Prop B ties Muni funding to population density so that we are ensuring that our transportation system keeps up with demand.

    Proposition E is otherwise known as the Soda Tax. You have likely seen a gazillion billboards throughout the city profiling small business owners stating their opposition to Prop E. You can thank the American Beverage Association (ABA) for all of that. Determined to make sure no other city in the U.S. even considers putting another soda tax measure on the ballot, they are pouring in thousands and thousands of dollars to defeat Prop E. I won’t get into all the specific scientific research here—I encourage you to look at your voter guide. I will simply state that I agree that sugary beverages are a significant contributor to childhood diabetes and obesity and a threat to our health. Yes, there are other food and beverage products that are also not healthy, but not to the extent of sugary beverages. We as a city have an obligation to protect and improve the health and safety of our citizens, especially our children. That is why I support Prop E.

    Props H and I are opposing viewpoints on the soccer fields of Golden Gate Park. If you want them to continue to be natural grass fields with gopher holes, no lighting, and to be nearly impossible to maintain, vote for H. If you want usable fields for adults and children to play on, support Prop I.

    Prop G is the most controversial. This is an important attempt to stop the speculation that is destroying our city—heart-wrenching tenant evictions and skyrocketing housing prices. However well intended, though, I have serious reservations about the specifics. It considers buildings sold within five years of purchase a “flip.” I know many owners, including military members, who need to move and sell their property in less than five years for legitimate reasons. I would prefer the sponsors had chosen three years instead of five. The proposal would tax the full sales price of the property, rather than the profit, which also seems unfair. What if you sell your property at a loss? You still pay the tax? Finally, the money received from the tax can be applied to anything; I want the proceeds to go to build or supplement affordable housing, not go to a general fund. This is a classic case where one has to debate whether to support well intended but imperfect legislation with harmful unintended consequences, or hold off in hopes that a more equitable solution for all can be created. I personally want a modified solution to a very significant problem for San Francisco.

    Whatever your opinions are on these candidates and issues, I hope you exercise your right to vote. Our Democracy depends on it!

    Zoe Dunning is a retired Navy Commander and was a lead activist in the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. She currently serves as the 1st Vice Chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party, as a San Francisco Library Commissioner, and as Co-Chair of the Board of Directors for the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club.