One District 2 candidate running for a seat on the Board of Supervisors in November 2018 has already reported raising six figures in campaign contributions in less than three months. Another is vowing to fund their own campaign to stay competitive. And a former seat holder is threatening to jump into the contest.
The race to represent the wealthier neighborhoods of San Francisco — including Pacific Heights and the Marina — has all the makings of a deep-pocketed, contentious slugfest.
BART board member Nicholas Josefowitz, founder of the successful solar power plant company RenGen Energy, is vying against two other candidates for the District 2 seat on the Board of Supervisors and reported raising in excess of $140,000 as of Nov. 28.
The fast clip of raising campaign cash comes as former District 2 Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier may enter the race and would likely be a formidable opponent. She did not respond to requests for comment.
But Josefowitz said he will try and keep Alioto-Pier from running by funding a June ballot measure to prevent past supervisors from seeking office after they already served two-four year terms, which he called a “loophole.”
“If we’re going to keep electing the same people, we’re going to keep getting the same results,” he said.
As for his own war chest, Josefowitz, 34, a Pacific Heights homeowner, said the money has come from “just under” 500 individual donors and was “an indication people are excited” about his campaign message.
His two official challengers are not deterred by the big bucks.
Kat Anderson, 54 — a Marina homeowner who is a lawyer, Recreation and Parks commissioner and an administrative officer for the Pacific Media Workers Guild — is no stranger to big money in District 2 races, and said she would contribute to her campaign to remain competitive.
“I’m going to be right there with Nick,” Anderson vowed.
Josefowitz could tap into his own wealth as well, but he declined to say whether he’s considering it.
Donors may contribute up to $500 to a candidate, but there is no limit on the amount of personal funds a candidate may contribute to their own campaign.
While Anderson stands to benefit from the Josefowitz-backed term-limit measure, she distanced herself from it. “I don’t support disenfranchising Michela Alioto-Pier,” Anderson said.
In 2010, Anderson failed in the District 2 race against two candidates who also raised big money, Janet Reilly and Mark Farrell, who prevailed and is the current seat holder termed out of office next year.
Farrell raised $265,198 for that contest, Reilly raised $363,865 and Anderson raised $28,000 and also received public financing, which comes with spending limit conditions — something she won’t accept this time around.
With a year before Election Day, Josefowitz has raised more than half the $268,549 raised by Supervisor Hillary Ronen in her District 9 contest last year. At this pace, he could surpass Board of Supervisors President London Breed’s $374,793 war chest in her District 5 re-election bid, the most of any supervisorial candidate that year.
The third candidate, Schuyler Hudak, 34, was an intern with a focus on education for Gavin Newsom when he was mayor, and later worked on Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2010 campaign. She has since founded media start-up company Cor, which delivers digital news video content.
“I could be scared away by that,” Hudak said of Josefowitz’s contributions, but she said there’ve been plenty of races “when the person with the most money didn’t win.” Hudak added, “I will raise enough money to be very competitive in this race.”
Josefowitz’s campaign contribution filings were actually not required, according to the Ethics Commission, although he said he thought they were. Candidates must report within 24 hours when their fundraising passes the $10,000 mark. They must report if they raise more than $100,000, and subsequent $10,000 increments, only if a candidate in the race has been certified for public financing. None have been yet.
The next required candidate reporting is Jan. 31, when candidates must disclose total amounts raised in 2017 and list the individual contributors.
Anderson’s most recent campaign finance filings show she has raised $11,610 on Nov. 7 after filing to run for office Sept. 20, and she declined to state how much she has raised subsequently.
Hudak, who was the first to jump into the race on June 5, raised $39,000 as of June 30, the last required reporting of all individual contributions, and plans to use public financing. She was born and raised in the Bay Area and moved to the district a decade ago, where she rents her home in the Marina.
Josefowitz reported raising $142,836 on Nov. 28, after filing to start raising money on Aug. 30. Of that, he has spent $35,255.
ON THE ISSUES
The three candidates are in line with San Francisco’s more moderate politics and support Mayor Ed Lee.
There was no disagreement on last week’s vote that drew national media attention to District 2. All three candidates said they would have voted the same way Farrell did Tuesday to rescind the sale of the Presidio Terrace street.
The Presidio Terrace Homeowners Association failed to pay their taxes on their private road and the tax collector put it up for auction in 2015, when it was bought by a South Bay couple. Opponents of the vote argued the board was only giving them a second chance because they are multi-million dollar homeowners.
All three agreed auto break-ins are among the top issues facing residents in the district, and argued the solution is having more officers.
But Josefowitz offered another innovative solution. He said The City should also look for efficiencies and incorporate technology to reduce the time officers spend doing paperwork, which would translate to more officers on the beat.
That’s in line with Josefowitz’s campaign message about striving for a more efficient government and reforming City Hall to start “doing the basics well.”
“I think it’s something we’ve struggled with,” Josefowitz said. He supports holding city departments accountable for stricter performance measures and becoming more “data driven.”
Anderson said The City should reduce “unique tortures” dealt to small businesses trying to open up, such as by limiting discretionary review requirements, which allows residents to appeal permits.
Hudak, who also sits on the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation, said there was a need to better care for The City’s mentally ill, many of whom are homeless. More beds for the mentally ill at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and more longer-term housing for them once they are released are needed, she said. She would call for the development of a comprehensive citywide mental health strategy.
GLOVES COME OFF
Anderson was critical of Josefowitz for leaving the BART board before there was marked improvement in the transit system, and running against her after, she said, she helped him get elected to that seat, which Anderson sees as something of a betrayal.
“BART is not cleaned up,” she said. “He’s quitting and using District 2 as a stepping stone to the next thing.”
When asked to respond to Anderson’s criticism, Josefowitz said, “I’m serving out my four-year term.” (He was elected to the BART board in 2014.)
His decision to run for District 2 was inspired by the recent birth of his twins to focus more on the immediate quality of life in his community. “Since I got elected I had kids. I think that changes one’s perspective,” he said.
Anderson emphasizes that she’s been in district for 23 years and has paid her dues with community involvement. “Nick’s just getting started with all that,” she said.
Josefowitz, who has lived in the district for six years, said that residents “are not interested in petty politics.”
“I’m really focused not on scoring political points against other candidates or other elected officials. We need to rise above that,” he said.
Assemblymember David Chiu and state Sen. Scott Wiener, both former supervisors, have endorsed Josefowitz, while Angela Alioto, a former supervisor, and Fiona Ma, a former supervisor and member of the state Board of Equalization, have endorsed Anderson.
Meanwhile, all three candidates are seeking an endorsement from Farrell, who has yet to extend that honor.