Recent Comments

    There’s No Staying Home on November 6

    By Peter Gallotta–

    The past few weeks have felt like some of the darkest days since November 2016. Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination and speedy confirmation to the Supreme Court was a devastatingly dark specter. Trump and his administration—who mercilessly wield their anti-immigrant, anti-women, anti-LGBT and anti-science agenda—now have full control of the highest court in the land. This has been the goal of not just conservatives, but the far right, for decades.

    The day that Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court was not the day we lost. We lost on November 8, 2016, when the GOP won the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Every dirty trick pulled, every denigrating comment Tweeted and every Republican confirmation made is a scalding reminder: elections matter. And it’s time to fight back and vote.

    That is why the San Francisco Democratic Party along with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi opened a space for Democrats to help win back the House of Representatives. The “Red to Blue SF” headquarters is located in the heart of San Francisco’s Castro District in the former Pottery Barn at 2390 Market Street (corner of Castro & Market). In the same District that made history by electing Harvey Milk to the Board of Supervisors in 1977, volunteers are phone banking and text banking every day and night of the week in the hopes of making history again by electing a blue wave of Democrats to Congress this November.

    This is the single greatest opportunity we have to put a stop to Trump’s disastrous agenda before 2020. If you can spare a few hours, stop in. Bring a friend. Bring ten! Even if you’ve never phone banked before, the Red to Blue SF crew will show you how. It’s easy, makes a difference and is a much healthier outlet than fighting with MAGA supporters on social media. You can find out more at www.RedtoBlueSF.org

    In these troubling national times it’s easy to forget that all politics is local. There’s a lot at stake this November here in San Francisco, especially for the LGBTQ community. Let’s go down the ballot a bit, shall we?

    While likely not on the top of your radar, the San Francisco School Board race this year isn’t one to skim or skip over. There are three open seats with 18 candidates running (yes, you read that right). It’s a super competitive race, but also potentially a historic one for the City’s transgender community. If elected, Mia Satya and Martin Rawlings-Fein would be the first openly transgender members of the School Board and the first transgender candidates ever to win elected office in San Francisco. They’d further shatter the pink ceiling first broken by Tom Ammiano, when he ran and was elected as the first openly gay member of the Board of Education in 1990.

    At the same time, San Francisco’s LGBT community has been outraged in recent weeks over the transphobic comments of school board candidate Josephine Zhao. Zhao, who has the backing of Mayor Breed and Senator Scott Wiener, publicly advocated against AB 1266, California’s gender-neutral bathrooms bill, aligning herself with the Pacific Justice Institute, a group categorized by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an “anti-LGBT hate group.”

    Due to mounting public and political pressure, Zhao dropped out of the School Board race in September. Except there’s one catch—her name will still appear on the ballot. So, LGBTQ voters (and allies) beware. Instead, I hope you’ll join me in making history by supporting transgender community leader and youth advocate, Mia Satya, along with Alison Collins, Faauuga Moliga, and Gabriela Lopez—all leaders who understand the needs of our students and teachers and who will have the back of the LGBTQ community.

    Our newly minted LGBTQ and District 8 Supervisor, Rafael Mandelman, is settling into his new job and continuing to show up everywhere in the District. Rafael will be on the ballot but is running virtually unopposed, giving him the opportunity to start tackling neighborhood issues like homelessness and street trees. Go, Rafael!

    Over in District 6, my Tenderloin neighbor and friend Matt Haney is facing a tough race for Supervisor to replace progressive titan Jane Kim. Matt’s two opponents are backed by Mayor Breed and have teamed up with a 1–2 Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) strategy fueled by super PAC money from downtown and tech interests. That’s not surprising, given that District 6 is the epicenter of building development and the Supervisor will play a key role in land-use decisions in the burgeoning South of Market and Mission Bay neighborhoods. If we want more than a fair shake at keeping District 6 and our city affordable for all of us, Matt Haney is the voice and the vote we need on the Board of Supervisors.

    There are always too many ballot measures, but if there are two to remember they are Prop 10 and Prop C. Both need our YES, or as we like to say, YASSS vote. Prop 10 is a state measure that would give cities the power to expand rent control requirements. San Francisco is a renters’ city and rent control is the reason that many queer and transgender people can still afford to live here. Given our housing affordability crisis, expanding rent control is a way we can keep rents affordable and keep more of our neighbors and friends from being priced out.

    And speaking of housing, Proposition C or “Our City, Our Home,” is one of the most game-changing policies to address our homelessness crisis that I’ve seen in years. If passed, Prop C will infuse over $300 million of funding into our City’s budget for permanent housing for 4,000 homeless people in addition to more rental subsidies and shelter beds. It does this by levying a small 0.5% tax on big corporations, most of whom just received a 15% cut under Trump’s tax plan. With support from the likes of Congresswoman Pelosi and Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, it’s hard to understand who wouldn’t support this measure that will make a real difference in lives of people living on our streets.

    So, San Francisco, it’s time to get out there and vote. Whether you vote by mail, at the polls, or at City Hall, there’s no staying home on November 6. Let’s not wake up on November 7 and wish we had done more. Let’s instead awaken to a day that ushers in a new blue wave of Democratic resistance in the House of Representatives, in Governors’ mansions, and School Board chambers throughout the country. It’s time to drive out the darkness. And as Martin Luther King, Jr once said, only light can do that. So, it’s time to flip the switch with our vote. Elections do matter—and this one the most.

    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.