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Endorsements: Supervisor races, BART board, Board of Education for November 2018

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A crowd sits during a Board of Supervisors meeting at San Francisco City Hall on Tuesday, January 9, 2018. (Sarahbeth Maney/S.F. Examiner)

District 2

Endorsement: Catherine Stefani

Several of the more progressive political groups in town have chosen not to endorse anyone in District 2, and we can see why. None of the four candidates entirely won us over. All four were uniformly opposed to Proposition 10, a state measure that would allow cities to revise and increase rent control protection. And not one was willing to come out in favor of Proposition C, a tax on the largest businesses that would help finance badly needed homeless services, although the two most prominent candidates, Supervisor Catherine Stefani and Nick Josefowitz, both said they would commit to locating a navigation center in the district.

Stefani, a longtime resident of the district, is a former assistant district attorney and served as county clerk and as a legislative aide before being appointed by Mayor Mark Farrell earlier this year. She has strong backing from both the moderate and progressive factions in city politics and is a poised, polished and knowledgeable candidate. So far she has pursued popular measures such as a hearing on auto burglaries, expanded gun control and a call to increase the representation of women in city statues and in names for parks and buildings. She was also one of the few elected officials to quickly drop her support for school board candidate Josephine Zhao when her transphobic remarks came to light — a move we applaud.

On the negative side, she was one of the few elected officials to back the San Francisco Police Officers Association’s Proposition H on the June ballot, overriding the Police Commission’s control over Taser policy, even after the commission approved a policy that obviated any possible argument for supporting it.

Josefowitz, a solar power company founder and BART board member who is largely financing his own campaign, is strong on transit issues and has the backing of state Sen. Scott Wiener and state Assembly members David Chiu and Phil Ting. However the ambitious up-and-comer has managed to alienate some other San Francisco officials with tactics that include backing a measure that would have prevented former Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier from serving another term and suing the city to try to force an election in June rather than November. Perhaps as a result, not one current member of the Board of Supervisors or other city office holder has endorsed him — a telling absence for a regional office holder who declared his candidacy last year.

While Josefowitz has touted his strong pro-development stance, Stefani, too, favors increased housing development through a variety of means including density bonuses and rezoning. However unlike Josefowitz, she advocates for doing so at the local level and against a top-down approach imposed by Sacramento.

We ultimately think Stefani better reflects the overall views of voters in her district and will effectively represent them on the Board of Supervisors. She has worked hard to reach out to constituents and build alliances and shows every sign of being a successful legislator.

District 4

Endorsement: Gordon Mar

The race in District 4 presents an overwhelming number of choices for voters, and yet there is little in the views of candidates to differentiate them. Each is willing to largely defer to anti-cannabis sentiments in the district, and even the most pro-development among them, Trevor McNeil, offers relatively cautious support for new housing in the neighborhood.

Current Supervisor Katy Tang and moderates such as Mayor London Breed have thrown their backing behind legislative aide and registered dietician Jessica Ho. However she has not distinguished herself in this campaign and we do not think a candidate who has lived in The City for less than a year should be seriously considered.

We’re backing Gordon Mar for his lengthy history of community organizing and involvement in local labor unions, as well as longstanding ties in the community. He is strongly pro-tenant and backs Proposition C as a means to finance efforts to fight homelessness. Within his district he called for a mobile homeless outreach unit and the development of affordable housing at several publicly-owned sites, as well as the encouragement of accessory dwelling units and building up to the current allowed zoning.

District 6

Endorsement: Matt Haney, Christine Johnson

District 6 is home to prominent tech companies as well as The City’s largest homeless population, and has absorbed a large portion of The City’s recent construction boom. Perhaps not surprisingly, then, the race in this district has focused intensely on housing and has drawn several fiercely intelligent candidates fluent in the subtleties of development.

Matt Haney, a school board member and attorney active in tenant and social justice issues, is something of a favored son in San Francisco politics. Considered the “progressive” favorite, he has backing from Democratic heavyweights including Kamala Harris, Gavin Newsom, Mark Leno and Fiona Ma, among many others. Of the three candidates he has the strongest stand on tenants’ rights, expressing unequivocal support for the statewide Prop. 10 ballot measure. As the only Tenderloin resident in the race he has a close-up view of that neighborhood’s problems with crime and drug dealing, and advocated for an approach that emphasizes “activating” troubled corners through the involvement of neighborhood residents and nonprofits as well as more policing.

We were troubled by the refusal of Christine Johnson, a former planning commissioner with a background in engineering and finance, to take a position on Prop. 10, although she did note that she would support adjusting rent control in some respects if it were to pass. However, in other respects we found her to be an impressive, knowledgeable candidate with a solid history of service on numerous city boards and commissions and a nuanced grasp of city policy. She emphasized aggressive measures to increase affordable housing development and increase the number of shelter beds and services for the homeless. We consider her a strong second choice.

District 8

Endorsement: Rafael Mandelman

We endorsed Mandelman in the June election for a brief stint completing the remainder of state Sen. Scott Wiener’s term, and are happy to do so again for a full term in office. While aligned with the progressive faction in City Hall he enjoys broad-based support from across the spectrum. In his brief time in office so far he has introduced legislation seeking to extend the time for cannabis businesses to operate on temporary permits and was arrested in a Labor Day protest supporting hotel workers. He’s indicated that tackling homelessness is a priority and we’re interested in seeing what he accomplishes in that and other areas.

District 10

Endorsement: Shamann Walton

Walton, a school board member and executive director of the nonprofit Young Community Developers, which provides job training programs and develops affordable housing, grew up in District 10 and has strong ties in the community and detailed knowledge of its challenges. He supports Prop. C, a business tax on the November ballot to finance efforts to fight homelessness, and Prop. 10, which would allow for revisions to local rent control, as well as full funding for Prop. F implementation. He also opposes the implementation of Tasers and noted that he did not seek the endorsement of the police union, a group that has often served as a roadblock to reform. However, despite these largely progressive views he draws support from stalwarts of the moderate camp including Mayor London Breed and state Sen. Scott Wiener and no fewer than eight current supervisors. We think he will be an effective voice for the residents of his district.

BART BOARD

Endorsement: Janice Li

Advocacy director for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Li is an experienced community organizer who has served on the Port of San Francisco Waterfront Working Group. She has the backing of a wide range of public officials and is well prepared to be a strong advocate for improved accessibility and connections for BART and its riders.

CITY COLLEGE OF SAN FRANCISCO

Endorsements: Thea Selby, Brigitte Davila, John Rizzo

City College has made great strides over the past four years, pulling itself out of an accreditation crisis, building enrollment and working through the first bumpy semesters of the Free City program. The incumbents have demonstrated their ability to pull the district out of a slump and have all earned the backing of their faculty union. We support their reelection.

BOARD OF EDUCATION

Endorsements: Faauuga Moliga, Alison Collins, Gabriela Lopez

Three open seats on the school board drew a staggering 19 candidates to this November’s race, and voters could be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed. In our review of candidates we gave particular attention to those with real world experience working in the schools and with students.

Faauuga Moliga is a San Francisco native and public schools graduate who grew up in public housing. The city’s first Pacific Islander candidate, he has drawn endorsers from across the local political spectrum. Moliga’s accomplishments include a program helping Pacific Islanders graduate college, work on student advocacy programs for the YMCA and the launch of a community schools program at Burton High School that helped increase attendance and decrease the number of students pushed out of school.

Alison Collins is an educator and community organizer with lengthy experience working on funding and diversity initiatives and in professional development for teachers. A vocal critic of many charter schools, she is also author of a blog, San Francisco Public School Mom, that aims to take readers “Beyond the bake sale.”

Gabriela Lopez is a bilingual fourth grade teacher from an immigrant background with experience as an art educator and paraeducator. She emphasizes the need for expanded special education programs and smaller class sizes.

Given the large number of candidates, we think it is worth noting that we also seriously considered Li Miao Lovett, a City College of San Francisco student counselor with the backing of the teachers’ union. Like Lopez, she brings valuable perspective on how to support immigrant and non-English speaking families, as well as real world experience working with older students. Other candidates that impressed us included Mia Satya, Monica Chinchilla and Alida Fisher.

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