Election day is almost upon us! San Franciscans will take to the polls and make their voices heard for the fourth and final time this year. If you are unsure of your registration status, you may register to vote (registertovote.ca.gov) or update your information (sfelections.org) online.
This November ballot will include many local initiatives that will have profound long-term effects on our city as we navigate our economic recovery. Here are my recommendations on some local initiatives and offices.
YES ON PROPOSITION B
Proposition B reduces bureaucratic bloat and ensures more funding goes directly to street cleaning operations. Last election, voters opted to restructure how San Francisco completes infrastructure projects and cleans up our public spaces by pulling street sanitation functions out of the Department of Public Works and putting it into a new department. Although the idea might sound good in theory, it will cost taxpayers nearly $10 million annually in extra administrative costs — middle managers, human resources, finance, information technology, etc. — that would otherwise be spent directly on street-cleaning services. I opposed the move to split the departments when it was proposed, and I support undoing it now.
I agree that San Franciscans deserve greater accountability at Public Works; that’s why I’ve always supported putting an oversight commission in place, but splitting the departments will only lead to higher costs and less street cleaning. A recession is looming, and we cannot afford a ballooning local government without improved services. Reject wasteful new bureaucracy — vote yes on Proposition B.
YES ON PROPOSITION G
Proposition G will dedicate up to $60 million per year from existing sources to fund programs to improve academic success and educational programming for San Francisco public school students. Normally I would not support a budget set-aside, but the previous Board of Education failed its students and now they need our help. During the pandemic, students suffered unprecedented learning losses, and we need to expand academic programming if we ever hope to close that gap — vote yes on Proposition G.
LAINIE MOTAMEDI AND LISA WEISSMAN-WARD FOR BOARD OF EDUCATION
It’s no secret that management of San Francisco Unified has been a disaster over the last two years. The previous board spent more time engaged in renaming schools and suing each other than ensuring our students’ needs were met. Motamedi and Weissman-Ward have stepped up, knowing they would have an enormous challenge before them. Since their appointments in March, they have brought professionalism and maturity back to the Board of Education and made improving student outcomes, fiscal responsibility, and stable governance their priorities. They’ve already hired a new superintendent and passed a balanced budget plan, and they deserve a full term to continue their good work — vote Lainie Motamedi and Lisa Weissman-Ward for Board of Education.
YES ON PROPOSITION H
I think it’s clear that San Franciscans have election fatigue. This election in November will be our fourth local election in 12 months, and having that many elections increases costs and reduces voter participation. Proposition H will streamline the elections that occur in odd years by consolidating them with the regularly scheduled midterm and presidential elections. Right now, the elections for our most important positions like the mayor, district attorney, and sheriff are held during separate odd-year elections when voter turnout is 50 percent lower than that of our regular even-year elections. Each of these elections costs taxpayers more than $7 million, which is funding that could go to street cleaning or increased police foot patrols. According to an analysis by the San Francisco Chronicle, District 2 residents in particular will benefit from this measure, because they are most likely to sit out these off-year elections. Save money, increase turnout — vote yes on Proposition H.
NO ON PROPOSITION O
City College is a vital institution and so many of our residents rely on it to improve their lives, but we need to be realistic about the challenges the institution faces and to fix the glaring deficiencies before we approve another parcel tax. Proposition O would raise $37 million in taxes without a demonstrated plan to address the issues that matter most.
City College has been beset with financial and governance issues over the last decade. It’s had nine chancellors in the last eight years, and chronic mismanagement plunged the institution into an accreditation crisis 10 years ago. Enrollment has declined by almost 50,000 students and more than 60 percent of students are not graduating on time. Despite these issues, City College has continued to receive significant financial support for its operations and programs. In the past, it has received a $28 million bailout from the state, two other parcel taxes, and $1.3 billion in bonds approved by the voters, and millions in additional direct tuition support. Even with all this financial support, the institution has continued to operate at a deficit for years.
Enough is enough. It’s time for the trustees and administrators to demonstrate that they’re capable of providing the leadership, foresight, and financial stability City College desperately needs before coming to the voters again for another bailout. It’s time for accountability. Vote no on Proposition O.
Catherine Stefani represents District 2 on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.