While San Francisco’s political watchers sat on the edge of their seats awaiting news of our next mayor (spoiler alert if you haven’t heard the klaxons sounding: London Breed won), a small press conference on Irving Street and 22nd Avenue announced what could be a new political future for the West Side.
It was there outside Uncle Benny’s Donut and Bagel shop that Jessica Ho, the three-month legislative aide to Supervisor Katy Tang officially kicked off her candidacy to represent the Sunset District.
As I reported in my column yesterday, Tang has opted not to seek re-election. Her hoped-for successor, Ho, hails from Los Angeles, and has officially lived in San Francisco since March, though the now 30-year-old lived here for four years when she attended college, and her grandparents lived in the district. She registered to vote in San Francisco on March 27 this year.
“I’m really happy to come back,” Ho told me. “For me I felt like this is where I wanted to end up, I’ve always known that. I’m really happy to serve.”
Ho said her priority as supervisor will be public safety, and said “the level of crime has decreased tremendously, but there’s still robberies that need to be addressed.”
The often foggy Sunset District has seen a political succession from former Supervisor Carmen Chu to Tang, all strong cornerstones of The City’s moderate-Democratic wing. The district is homeowner-heavy, and its voters lean toward the centrist end of San Francisco politics.
The Board of Supervisors will now lean progressive, 6-5, after the massive, 20-point mountain of an electoral win by Rafael Mandelman over Supervisor Jeff Sheehy this month. If progressives get their act together, however, they may be able to run a supervisor candidate in the Sunset they know will be an ally to their causes.
That could be especially key as the progressive board may find their policies neutered by the threat of Mayor-Elect Breed’s veto power, which can only be defeated by an 8-vote supermajority.
This all being true, Tang said she purposefully assured the Sunset District will have its first open race (meaning one without an incumbent in office who enjoys a heavy advantage) in years.
When Tang declined to file to run for supervisor by the deadline Tuesday evening, she triggered a state law allowing five extra days for potential runners to jump in, though some were critical she cut her announcement so close to the bone.
“I have heard from residents they want an open election,” Tang told me. “Certainly I could have done many other things. I could have resigned. I could have filed and withdrawn later.”
Those options would’ve allowed Breed to appoint her successor.
“I did not do any of those things … despite my supporting someone from my office, that doesn’t mean I want to close the door on other people,” Tang said.
Now with an open race, candidates are already pouring in.
San Franciscans Mike Murphy, Adam Kim, Jimmy La and Li Lovett have all filed to run for the District 4 seat. Murphy is a longtime Green Party member.
It’s not clear if any would represent a sizable challenge to Ho, who has the endorsement of Tang, Mayor-Elect London Breed, and Assessor-Recorder Chu. But one rumored candidate may have the political punch to provide a challenge: John O’Riordan.
The Westside Democratic Club and Irish Caucus of the California Democratic Party member has deep West-side ties. When I caught up with him Wednesday, he told me “I’m under a bit of pressure from people to run.” O’Riordan said Tang deciding not to run was a “shock,” but he hasn’t had time to make a decision. He’ll meet with his supporters over the weekend and mull any potential run.
“I’ll need to see if it’s viable,” he said. “It’s very fluid right now.”
The same could be said for The Sunset’s political future.
* * *
Mayor-Elect London Breed, huh? Well, there it is folks.
I’ll certainly have more to say on this election in the coming weeks, but for now, let me say this briefly: As a San Francisco native, I’m proud to see someone who’s grown up in this city, who knows this city, occupy Room 200 (Da Mayor’s office). Breed is charismatic, warm and has shown great potential for leadership.
Is it awesome to have elected the first black woman mayor to San Francisco? Hell yes.
That said, readers of my column know my reporting has uncovered plenty of reason to worry over her record, from her financial backers to her slim legislative accomplishments as a supervisor. Those concerns persist.
But. And there is a but — London has promised us her critics’ claims are overblown. She has said, repeatedly, that her financial backers — from tech to anti-tenant groups — do not define her. That she is independent.
Now’s your chance to show us, London.
There’s nothing I want more than for my concerns to be proven wrong, and for you to fulfill your promises to The City we both love.
And as for the rest of us? We remain On Guard.
On Guard prints the news and raises hell each week. Email Fitz at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @FitztheReporter, and Facebook at facebook.com/FitztheReporter.