Though he wasn't elected mayor of San Francisco, Broke-Ass Stuart says his campaign was a success, illustrated by the fact that Mayor Ed Lee was reelected with just 56 percent of the vote. (Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner)

Campaigning for mayor proves power of protest

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So I ran for mayor of San Francisco. I did the damn thing. Remember back in May, when I was on the cover of this fine periodical announcing my run? Yeah, I went through with it and it was … well, it was one of the smartest dumb things I’ve ever done.

Running for mayor was incredibly exhausting and immensely stressful, and I didn’t even have to worry about winning. That said, I’m so glad I did it. I got to use the spotlight and platform to vocalize dissent, move the line of scrimmage forward, disseminate new ideas, build momentum for a greater movement and give people hope. And I’m proud to say I did all of those things.

Initially, the idea for the run was that I would chronicle the whole thing in this column each week, breaking down the victories and vagaries, in a fantastic journalistic experiment. That didn’t exactly work out; after two installments, the Ethics Commission told me I wasn’t allowed to do this. So I instead used the column to write about issues that I felt were important, issues I would’ve tackled if I could’ve mentioned the campaign — leaving campaign details out of it. And boy oh boy did that rile some people up! I covered everything from the legacy business legislation to fixing homelessness and tackling corruption. And while there aren’t comments on the San Francisco Examiner website, I was flattered to receive handwritten hate mail, sent to me at the Examiner’s office. That, my friends, is how you know you’ve made it: handwritten hate mail.

Here’s the thing: I ran for mayor as a form of protest. In a time when it feels like so many of the things and people that makes The City wonderful are disappearing, my campaign was an opportunity to stick up for those who don’t always have a voice. And while some of the things I supported — like Propositions F and I — were defeated, our side did get a major win: Aaron Peskin was elected to the Board of Supervisors.

The morning after the election, many San Franciscans woke up crestfallen. They felt like all the progressive measures had lost and that The City was done for. But in actuality, it was a bigger win than many people realized. Having Peskin on the board means the progressives now have a majority, and that means we may not have to go to the ballot boxes to get important legislation passed.

But the thing I’m most proud of from my mayoral run is the fact that I was part of building a movement. Francisco Herrera, Amy Weiss and I were part of something called “Vote 1-2-3 to Replace Ed Lee.” For the first time in history, three candidates banded together to use ranked-choice voting in an attempt to unseat the mayor. And tens of thousands of San Franciscans rallied around the idea, causing an incumbent mayor who was running “unopposed” to only get 56 percent of the vote! So while Lee is still mayor, we now have an army of dedicated people, mobilized for the 2016 elections, when we’ll have double the voter turnout. This was an important election, but it was really just the starting gun for the 2016 election, when the future of San Francisco will really be decided. And you know what? I’m optimistic about it.

So here we are, back where we started: A column by a guy named Broke-Ass Stuart, all about the city he loves. Some of the future installments will be about politics, and some won’t, but I promise you this: It will always be entertaining, it will always be fun and it will almost always include words many of you don’t approve of.

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com. Broke-Ass City runs Thursdays in the San Francisco Examiner.

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