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    Election Recap – Mostly Snoozers and Two Heartbreaking Losses

    By Louise “Lou” Fischer–

    For the first time in two years as a columnist for the San Francisco Bay Times, I scrapped a completed article and started all over again. My original column contained the usual political content with a healthy dose of “funny, irreverent, it’s all going to be OK” banter. But given the final results of this election, I can’t pretend that everything is OK because “elections have consequences.” I’m angry, and contrary to what my father always says about “waiting 24 hours before responding in anger,” I don’t have 24 hours (deadline!) and it is going to take much longer than a day for this rage to subside.

    Recap of Non-Contested Candidate Elections

    All of the non-contested candidates won their elections; no surprise there. With all of the political talent in San Francisco, we should have more competition in these races. Mayor Breed received 70% of the votes, which is respectable; what concerns me is that 14% of the voters (24,651) chose a Republican who used campaign funds to sponsor a racist billboard targeting Mayor Breed. Go ahead and debate the issues, but leave the racism out of it, please.

    Recap of Propositions

    Proposition A, the Affordable Housing Bond, and Prop D, the Ridesharing (Lyft/Uber) Tax, required a two-thirds majority to pass, and they both squeaked by with 71% and 67.6% respectively. On Prop C, voters overwhelmingly told Juul and other companies that sell vaping products that they were just fine with the City’s ban on electronic cigarettes until the companies receive authorization from the FDA, which will happen when two Sundays meet (never). Prop B (Renaming the City’s Elderly and Disabled Agency), Prop E (Teacher Housing), and Prop F (Transparency in Local Campaign Finance), passed easily.

    District 5 Supervisor and District Attorney Races (I’m angry.)

    When I saw the final results of the election on Saturday night, I felt the same heartbreaking gut punch and sense of déjà vu that I experienced when Hillary Clinton lost in November of 2016. In last Tuesday’s races for DA and D5 Supervisor, two less-experienced white men of means and privilege defeated two highly-qualified women who made their way in the world through grit, hustle, and hard work. Yet again throughout the City, mothers and fathers had to tell their daughters that the role model they supported, and hoped to someday emulate, didn’t win because in politics, promises of “bold visions,” unrealistic policies, and campaign rhetoric speak louder than pragmatic, realistic, and feasible goals. I’m not disparaging Dean Preston and Chesa Boudin—they both want to make the City better—but neither of them has actually done the jobs to which they were elected, whereas Suzy Loftus served as an Assistant DA and Vallie Brown was appointed D5 Supervisor based on her 10+ years of success as a Legislative Aide.

    Chesa Boudin, congratulations on your win. You can tell a good story, rouse people up, and organize, but you only received 35% of the voters’ first choices. 65% of the voters did not want you, but soon you will be the DA for all of San Francisco, where most residents have been a victim of crime at some point. I too want to end mass incarceration and racial disparity in the criminal justice system, but I believe that we can have both safety and justice. I suffered two break-ins in the last 3 months; if the perpetrators were 18-year-olds who have no viable life options, then I want your office to help them with pathways to education, employment, housing, healthcare, etc., but if they are members of professional organized crime rings then I want them caught by the police and prosecuted by your office.

    There is a big difference between debating/campaigning and actually doing the job; you inherited a dysfunctional organization that has been broken for years. Now you have to manage staff members who may not want to work for you and you’ll need to recruit new lawyers to fill the previous and impending departures. You have a police department that spent the equivalent of a median-priced house in SF to defeat you and now you have to work with that department while serving as chief investigator of police misconduct. Your comment of “time for radical change to how we envision justice” is optimistic, but I’m not sure how much longer the residents of San Francisco are going to accept open-air drug dealing, and an increase in both misdemeanor and violent crime while you figure out how to “envision justice.”

    Congratulations to Dean Preston on your victory in District 5. You earned 47.5% of first choice votes, meaning over 50% of the residents you will soon represent did not want you. District 5 (and the City) lost a qualified woman with over 10 years of experience as a Legislative Aide, who, in 14 months as Supervisor, passed 30 pieces of legislation on issues as diverse as affordable housing, homelessness, equity, the environment, and women’s reproductive rights. What D5 gets instead is a bright guy, but a one-trick pony “tenants’ rights” activist who is long on ideas but short on actual experience of getting things done. Dean’s campaign promise to build 10,000 units of 100% affordable housing within 10 years is either the epitome of arrogance and hubris, or just a total disconnect from reality. Dean, if you’re not sure, ask your soon-to-be colleague Hillary Ronen who promised 5,000 units (that’s half as many!) in the same amount of time; at last count, the number of units she has delivered in 3 years is zero.

    According to Dean, “the election results are mandates for change and a statement by voters that they want bolder action from City Hall.” Maybe that’s how Dean sees it from his frame of reference, but I’m pretty sure that the residents of District 5 want to feed their families, educate their children, secure (or keep) safe housing, and instead of having other people say what’s best for the community, they want to provide input from within their own community.

    While this election was a referendum on disruption, it’s one thing to bang on the door and demand change, but it’s a whole other ball game to be on the inside and have to actually deliver results. I hope for the sake of the City that these newly elected officials realize this because the consequences of failure are too dire.

    By the Numbers

    495,050 – Registered voters in San Francisco
    206,025 – Total ballots collected (as of November 10);
    41.6% – Percentage of voter turnout;
    146,604 – Vote by mail ballots (71%);
    59,416 – Election day ballots (29%);
    600 (approximate) – Number of polling places in SF.

    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.

    Published on November 14, 2019