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    Election Consequences, World AIDS Day


    Election Consequences

    The fall election is behind us. We have a new Sheriff—Vicki Hennessy won by a landslide, having received 61% of the vote compared to Ross Mirkarimi’s 33%. She will bring her 30 years of experience and strong leadership to the Department. Look for the sheriff deputies’ morale to improve immediately.

    Also, we have a new (well, recycled) Supervisor in District 3, Aaron Peskin. This could make for a very interesting legislative year, as the Board of Supervisors now swings more to the progressive side with Peskin’s election. Even though two progressive housing initiatives—the short term rental restrictions in Prop F, and the Mission building moratorium, Prop I—lost at the ballot, look for these proposals to come before the Board again in one form or another. It is very likely some type of additional regulations and oversight will be enacted on the rentals, and developers will continue to be squeezed to focus on building almost exclusively affordable housing.

    This progressive majority may only last a year, however. The odd-numbered Supervisor districts are up for election next fall, and three solid progressive votes are getting termed out: Eric Mar in District 1, David Campos in District 9, and John Avalos in District 11. Look for one, and possibly two, of these seats to be occupied by more moderate candidates come November 2016.

    The other wild card will be filling the seat of whoever is elected to Mark Leno’s senate seat next fall. Whether it is Jane Kim or Scott Wiener, there is a possibility that their replacements may not fall in line ideologically with their current Supervisor. Under the current city charter, if any of the city’s elected offices are vacated, the mayor gets to name a replacement, much the way Mayor Lee appointed Julie Christensen to David Chiu’s seat in District 3. Then that appointee must run in the fall of 2017 to retain the seat. Should Jane Kim win, Mayor Lee might appoint someone more moderate than Kim.

    The other scenario is a possibility that the Board votes in 2016 on a charter amendment that would change city law so voters, instead of the elected officials, have the power to choose who fills vacant seats. John Avalos tried this unsuccessfully in 2014, but with Aaron Peskin now tipping the balance, this proposal may well have the votes on the Board to go forward next year. If so, the proposed charter amendment would go before the voters and, if it passes, the new Supervisor in District 6 or 8 would be decided in either a special election or in the primary election in June of 2017, depending on how it is written. If that is the case, then it is an open seat and anything goes—no guarantee the winner will align at all politically with the departing Supervisor. So a lot can change with the balance of power in City Hall over the next 18 months.

    All in all, 2016 will be a very busy year in City Hall and at the ballot box. Stay tuned!

    World AIDS Day

    December 1st marks another World Aids Day. This year’s national theme is “The Time to Act Is Now.” There will be a number of events scheduled that day in San Francisco, including an observance at the AIDS Memorial Grove.

    I distinctly remember my first observance of World Aids Day—it was 20 years ago, in 1995. I had just concluded my second military discharge hearing for violating the Don’t Ask,

    Don’t Tell policy that day. Against all odds, my attorneys and I won our fight to allow me to continue to serve in the Navy. That evening, we celebrated by joining the MCC congregation in its observance of World Aids Day. I was afforded the opportunity to speak, and I shared my journey and success in challenging an insurmountable opponent: the U.S. Navy’s antiquated policy banning gay service.

    I wished for equal success battling another tough opponent: the AIDS virus. I did so imagining a cure was just around the corner. I never imagined that twenty years later we would still have so many suffering around the globe from HIV and AIDS. It is a battle we must fight every day, until there is a cure. So many beautiful lives have been cut down before their time. We owe it to them to continue the fight. I hope you take the day off and volunteer, or donate, or do what you can to observe World AIDS Day on December 1.

    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.