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    Take Heart, Political Junkies: It Gets Better

    Rafael Mandelman

    Rafael Mandelman

    By Rafael Mandelman

    For San Francisco political junkies, 2013 was a bit of a bore: three uncontested citywide races for City Attorney, Treasurer and Assessor, and an essentially uncontested race for District 4 Supervisor. Yes, there was the fight over 8 Washington, which clearly got some of us all worked up, but that was pretty much all there was worth getting worked up over.

    2014 should be a different story. Of course, we’ll be cheering on Nancy Pelosi as she tries to re-take the House of Representatives for the Democrats. Unfortunately, at the moment, the botched rollout of Obamacare appears to have taken a real toll on the Democrats’ poll numbers, but there’s still plenty of time yet before November for the Republicans to self-destruct. And they do tend to do that.

    Locally, all eyes will be on the marquee battle of the year: the slugfest between David Chiu and David Campos (my candidate) for the right to represent the 17th Assembly District. California’s top-two primary system will ensure that the June primary will be merely the first of two contests for the seat. The good news is that both of these men are smart and talented and either would represent us well in Sacramento. The bad news is we now get to watch them and their supporters rip each other apart for the next ten months.

    There will be five local Supervisor seats coming before the voters, although given the strong advantages that district elections and instant runoff voting give to incumbents, we shouldn’t expect a ton of change there. Scott Wiener continues to annoy progressives citywide, but he’s popular in his District and is all but certain to win re-election. Much as my friends may dislike this or that battle he has chosen to wage, and the list of folks he’s pissed off is long indeed – nudists, homeless advocates, environmentalists, historic preservationists, and tenant activists, to name a few – the fact remains that he is diligent and tireless, responds quickly and effectively to constituent needs, and generally just seems to be burning brighter than most of his colleagues on the Board. Watch for him to use this election cycle to begin laying the foundation for his next race; conventional wisdom is that he’s aiming for Mark Leno’s Senate seat when Leno terms out in 2016.

    Another Supervisor to keep your eye on in 2014 is Jane Kim, representing District 6. Jane is super smart, hard-working, a solid fundraiser, and, well, gorgeous. I expect her to glide to re-election in November, but surely bigger and better things are in her future. Whether she sets her sights on the Board presidency in January 2015 or some other elected office, look for Jane to use this year to start charting her path forward and up.

    There are a ton of ballot measure ideas being floated, including a waterfront planning initiative, Muni reform, and an increase to our local minimum wage. Another proposal being promoted by folks at the Chamber of Commerce is to replace direct election of City College Trustees with appointment by the mayor. Backers are serious enough about the idea to have paid for a rather lengthy telephone poll. I, of course, think this is a terribly bad idea: bad for democracy, bad for City College and, frankly, bad for the mayor. Let’s hope the Chamber finds other better ways to occupy themselves in the coming year.

    With that, dear readers, I wish you all a delightful end to 2013 and a spectacular beginning to 2014.

    Rafael Mandelman was elected to the San Francisco Community College Board of Trustees in 2012. He is a partner at Burke, Williams & Sorensen, LLP.