For most of us, this November will mark the single most important election of our lifetimes. Americans will finally have the chance to reject an administration that has failed to respond to — and indeed has worsened — a public health and economic disaster, and instead elect a ticket that has not only the knowledge and experience to govern, but the compassion, empathy, and character to unite the nation. A ticket that will lead with love of country, not self or party. I am thrilled to support Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, our very own senator and former district attorney, and I am so looking forward to casting my vote this year.
To ensure that San Franciscans can safely exercise their right to vote this fall, all registered voters will receive ballots through the mail in October. If you are unsure of your registration status, you may register to vote (registertovote.ca.gov) or update your information (sfelections.org) online. Having an updated registration is particularly important this year, because the November ballot will also include many local elections that will have long-term effects on our city as we navigate the recovery. Of these elections, two ballot measures and the contested Board of Supervisors seats deserve special attention.
NO ON PROPOSITION B
Proposition B would grow the city bureaucracy by adding layers of new administrators during a time of difficult but necessary budget cuts and possible layoffs. Proposition B asks voters to create a new city department and two new commissions — the Department of Sanitation and Streets, and the Public Works and Sanitation and Streets Commissions — to restructure how San Francisco completes infrastructure projects and cleans up our public spaces. Although the idea may sound good in theory, it comes with a multimillion-dollar price tag, with estimates up to $6 million annually, not one penny of which would go toward increased street cleaning services. All the while, the city faces a nearly $2 billion budget deficit.
While I agree that San Franciscans deserve greater oversight over Public Works, Proposition B is the wrong way to achieve that goal. At the Rules Committee, I proposed that we create a Public Works Commission but scrap this proposal’s two-department structure and related staffing costs. Unfortunately, my amendment was voted down. After receiving the controller’s audit of Public Works’ contracting, I introduced legislation — the No GRAFT (Government Rackets, Abuses, or Fraudulent Transactions) Act — to tighten our procedures and eliminate opportunities for abuse, because San Franciscans should not have to wonder whether their tax dollars are being used for corrupt purposes. During this recession, however, we cannot afford to keep ballooning our local government with no guarantee of improved services. Reject new bureaucracy — vote no on Proposition B.
YES ON PROPOSITION H
By contrast, Proposition H, the Save Our Small Businesses initiative, would extend a vital lifeline to our local economy when we need it most. As we all have seen in our neighborhood merchant corridors, our small businesses are suffering tremendously. According to recent reporting in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Bay Area experienced the third-most business closures in the nation, and the second-most per capita, during the first few months of the pandemic. By slashing bureaucracy, Proposition H would alleviate this strain. It would streamline the small business permit approval process, allow different city departments to review applications concurrently, and ensure that the entire review process takes place within 30 days.
For years, we have heard that the city’s web of restrictive permits and regulations makes it too difficult to own or operate a small business in San Francisco. Proposition H builds on and incorporates ideas from my Small Business Bill of Rights legislation, and we cannot afford to pass up the opportunity to enact these changes at the ballot box. There is no way to know when the pandemic or recession will end, but Proposition H offers common-sense policies that will shore up our local economy as soon as next year. Save our small businesses — vote yes on Proposition H.
With the exception of District 9, odd-numbered seats on the Board of Supervisors are also being contested this November. While we may not agree on every issue, I am supporting the following candidates, whose leadership and willingness to work together will help our city navigate the challenging years to come.
In District 1, I am supporting Marjan Philhour, an experienced public servant and small business owner who knows what it takes to make our communities clean, safe, and vibrant. I have endorsed my colleague (and fellow Marina Times columnist) Supervisor Aaron Peskin in District 3, who has been an incredible partner in protecting our northern waterfront and saving Aquatic Park Pier. In District 5, I am thrilled to support Vallie Brown, a longtime activist and former legislative aide and supervisor. District 7 residents have two great choices: Joel Engardio, a neighborhood advocate who has long worked to prevent crime and hold City Hall accountable, and Myrna Melgar, an economic development expert and former president of the Planning Commission. Finally, I stand with District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, who has been a leader in the fight to protect labor rights and the environment.
Thank you, and remember to submit your ballots early!