This month, San Francisco voters will help set the stage for the next decade of San Francisco politics. While most voters have been consumed by the presidential primary and the prospect of beating back a newly reenergized Trump, the implications of the June 7 election here in San Francisco are also of serious import.
By now you’ve probably heard something about the battle for the relatively obscure but powerful Democratic County Central Committee. These 24 individuals who are elected by registered Democrats will be very influential in the November 2016 Board of Supervisors election. All six of the odd-numbered districts will be on the ballot in November, and every candidate will be vying for the local Democratic Party endorsement. More important, their campaigns will be dramatically impacted by tons of soft money funneled through the local Democratic committee — either for them or against them. Three of the six November races will be open seats, with key supervisors (and their votes) termed out. Come November, you could be looking at a dramatically different Board of Supervisors that is either swinging away from corruption and domination by real estate lobbyists or even more beholden to the powers that put them there. Your vote on June 7 could make all the difference.
THE DCCC: A CRISIS OF FAITH
I served on the San Francisco DCCC for three terms, the last two as its chair. When I left my post in 2012, our robust and focused organizing efforts ensured that the city’s Democratic Party was 240,538 registered voters strong. It also ensured that San Francisco contributed more than its fair share to the regional fundraising and organizing efforts of the 2008 presidential election, with a record high voter turnout in 2008 buoyed by local Democrats. And we became the central hub for organizing efforts to repeal the hateful anti-same-sex marriage initiative, Proposition 8. It was an energized and impactful time for the DCCC, and I’m very proud of the work that we spearheaded during my time as chair.
On July 27, 2012, I was succeeded by Mary Jung, chief lobbyist for the San Francisco Realtors Association, which has taken strong, unequivocable stances against rent control, Ellis Act reform, and strengthening tenant protections. From the time Jung assumed her post as chair until recently, she has had the distinction of overseeing the loss of more than 10,000 registered voters from the Democratic Party, the majority of whom left during her first term. I believe this is a manifestation of the loss of trust that voters have in the leadership of a once-esteemed and productive party that used to represent and advocate for San Francisco values. I believe that the local Democratic Party is in crisis, and that voters are looking elsewhere for an independent voice and strong representation. This is a DCCC peppered with lobbyists from some of the most powerful tech companies on the planet, along with the mayoral appointees and avowed real estate interests. This is a DCCC that voted against a resolution supporting President Obama’s 21st Century Policing reforms initiative, at the behest of the powerful police union.
This is also a DCCC that voted against commonsense reforms that would help put Airbnb in check and regulate an industry that has largely been left to do whatever it wants (to see how well that’s working, watch NBC 11’s two-part investigation on the impacts of Airbnb’s illegal hotelization of San Francisco.) A recent mailer I received outlined why I should vote for the “performance slate,” but what it neglected to mention was that Airbnb alone dumped over a quarter million dollars into local politics — including a $5,000 contribution to Chair Jung — the day after Supervisor Campos and I introduced legislation designed to hold the multibillion-dollar company accountable for its business practices. I would say that was a pretty smart investment to ensure your candidates continue to “perform,” just like they did last year when DCCC treasurer Tom Hsieh was paid more than $100,000 as a campaign consultant for Airbnb’s anti-Proposition F campaign. In the end, Airbnb spent more than $8 million to defeat Proposition F and remains largely unregulated.
WE NEED THE REFORM DEMOCRATS SLATE
Don’t be fooled by the appropriation of terms like “progress” — there is only one shot at reforming the DCCC and its influence on local politics, and that is the Reform Democrats slate. The diverse and grassroots assemblage of neighborhood leaders and progressive elected officials may not be aligned on every issue, but we have coalesced around a desire to see independent voices back on the DCCC who represent neighborhood interests and San Francisco values at their best. We are working to unshackle the DCCC from its dependence on special interests and dirty money, and we are actively cultivating a new generation of leadership, which I am delighted to say is largely comprised of women of color.
I am incredibly proud to support respected allies supervisors Sophie Maxwell and Jane Kim; school board member Sandra Lee Fewer; CCSF trustee Brigitte Davila; longtime labor organizers and friends Alysabeth Alexander and Hene Kelly; SFWPC president and legislative aide Frances Hseih; Planning and DBI commissioners Cindy Wu and Myrna Melgar; women’s rights activist Pratima Gupta; and Youth Commission staff Leah LaCroix.
This is the future of San Francisco politics, and it’s something to register and vote for. I urge you to vote the entire Reform Democrats slate, which you can find at sftenantsandfamilies.com.