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    Ready to Hit the Ground Running and Deliver for District 6 and San Francisco

    By Honey Mahogany–

    I have a deep love for San Francisco. I believe that this city is one of the most magical, beautiful places in the world. This is the city that I grew up in, the city that welcomed my immigrant family, and the city that has welcomed countless others of every race, religion, gender, and orientation. 

    Unfortunately, for a while now I’ve felt my heart begin to break as I watch my city torn apart by the failures of our local government. And this failure is not just measured by the very clear homelessness, overdose and addiction, and public safety crises on our streets, but also the inability of those in power to take responsibility and work together towards solutions. As one of the richest cities in the richest country in the world, a place heralded as the pinnacle of democracy, we can do better, we must do better, and that is why I’m running for Supervisor.

    When my parents came to San Francisco in the late 1970s as refugees from East Africa, they came because they believed in the American Dream: that if you work hard, you will be rewarded; that if you get an education, you can do anything. My dad, an aspiring medical student back home, ended up working for 30 years as a taxi driver for Yellow Cab here in San Francisco, and my mother, the daughter of a Senator and the Ethiopian Ambassador to Mexico, went to City College to get her associates before starting work at a local bank. 

    My parents worked hard and sacrificed to give me and my brother the best possible start by sending us to Catholic school. And while I don’t always agree with the Catholic Church—after all, I am an unabashedly pro-choice LGBTQ advocate, drag queen, and founder of our city’s Transgender District—I did learn some things that have stuck with me through the years and shaped the trajectory of my life. Namely, what it meant to be of service to others, to be a person for others, and to be the change you wish to see in the world.

    This is what led me to pursue social work. I’ve been working in social work since 2002, and eventually earned my Masters in Social Work from UC Berkeley. I’ve worked as a homeless outreach counselor, in residential care with those suffering with chronic illness and addiction, and created and led mental health and counseling programs. I’ve helped to get people housed and keep people housed, and I’ve also fought to keep people safe. My experience working on the ground and directly with local government has allowed me to see just how broken our system is, but my experience is also why I know there are practical solutions we can implement as a city that would make a huge impact on chaos and suffering on our streets.

    As someone who has worked for nearly 4 years in City Hall as a legislative aide and Chief of Staff to then Supervisor Matt Haney, we were able to make some headway. We co-authored Mental Health SF with Supervisor Ronen to help put SF on the way to providing Universal Mental Healthcare, and importantly, be able to address the overwhelming mental health and addiction crisis on our streets. However, the rollout of Mental Health SF has been painfully slow, and while we are making progress adding more mental health and recovery beds, we’ve absolutely failed at hiring the workers to staff them. One of the first things I plan to do in office is prioritize the hiring of these mental health and crisis workers by introducing the Crisis Workers Hiring Act, which would allow us to finally hire the workers we so desperately need.

    San Francisco continues to face an affordability crisis that has pushed people out of the city and exacerbated homelessness here, and at the root of these issues is our inability to build housing of all types. We must build more housing—shelters, navigation centers, permanent supportive housing—to help those already homeless and in need of services. We also need to approach housing from a holistic perspective of building for the future while protecting those most vulnerable today—ensuring better tenant protections and expanded rent control to support individuals and families in being able to stay housed. I have led on housing as Chief of Staff in the District 6 office for years, building thousands of units of housing and hundreds of affordable units, but we still need more.

    The State is requiring San Francisco to build 80,000 units of housing over 10 years, and right now we are not on track to reach our goals. That is dangerous because the State could withhold millions of dollars that would otherwise go towards helping us build affordable housing here in San Francisco. As Supervisor, I will work to ensure that we come up with a citywide upzoning plan that will allow us to achieve our Regional Housing Needs Allocation goals. I’ll also work to ensure that housing projects are built more quickly by streamlining the permitting process and creating an emergency ombudsman program to help housing get built by identifying and eliminating the obstacles that are getting in the way.

    As one of the co-owners of the Stud—San Francisco’s oldest LGBTQ venue—I, like countless others, was devastated when we were forced to shut down by the pandemic. But let’s be honest, small businesses were suffering in San Francisco long before COVID-19 came on the scene. With sky-high rents and a significant drop in tourism, our downtown has been decimated. I am determined to be a champion for small businesses in our district. Making it easier for businesses to open, and creating an environment where they can thrive. I will fight for safe and clean streets to ensure the return of tourism, conventions, and conferences, and help our downtown get back on track. 

    Police certainly have an important role to play in our public safety strategy, one that requires more support, but also more accountability. We can offer pay raises and hiring bonuses in order to hire back some of the hundreds of police we’ve lost, but the fact is that hiring new police officers is a problem across the nation. Though we’ve invested millions in trying to recruit, train, and hire new officers, we’ve been unable to get anywhere close to the number we need. 

    But there are other ways in addition to hiring new officers that can have a serious impact on public safety and also lower the burden on our police department. As a proponent of the Mid-Market Safety plan, I know the power of effectively utilizing community ambassadors. Groups like Urban Alchemy and our Community Benefits Districts have done a lot to help keep our streets calm, safe, and clean. My biggest critique of the Mid-Market Safety plan was that it needed to be district-wide and encompass large portions of downtown, otherwise drug dealing and the chaos it can cause simply moves to somebody else’s doorstep down the street or around the corner. As Supervisor, I will ensure we have a comprehensive and coordinated strategy to keep our streets safe.

    As someone who has lived here for 4 decades, worked the last 20 years as a social worker, founded the Transgender District, is a small business owner, has worked as legislative aide and Chief of Staff in the District 6 Office, and currently serves as Chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party, I will bring a wealth of experience to the role of District 6 Supervisor. I will be able to hit the ground running and deliver for this district and our city. That’s why I’ve received the most endorsements in this race. I’ve been endorsed by our nurses, firefighters, teachers, city workers, nonprofit workers, and more. I’ve been endorsed by progressive groups, pro-housing groups, the Labor Council, women’s groups, and I’m the only candidate who has been endorsed by all the major LGBTQ democratic clubs and endorsing organizations in the city. 

    San Francisco has a big decision to make this November. At a time when trans people are under attack across this country, San Francisco could actually elect its first trans person to the District 6 seat on the Board of Supervisors. It’s a chance to make history, and a chance to elect the most qualified candidate. 

    Honey Mahogany is the Chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party, and is the first Black as well as transgender person to serve in that role. Now a candidate for District 6 Supervisor, Mahogany previously served as a legislative aide and then chief of staff to former Supervisor Matt Haney.

    Election 2022
    Published on October 20, 2022