D1 supervisor race: Philhour, Fewer battle to represent the Richmond

For many of the 10 candidates running for District 1 supervisor, the November election is primarily a chance to correct neighborhood issues in the Richmond: out-of-sequence traffic lights, garbage pile-up and empty storefronts.

But for the two apparent frontrunners, who have received the most campaign contributions and endorsements, the race could determine much more.

It is one of three supervisorial races where — based on similar criteria — moderate candidates appear to have a serious chance at replacing a progressive incumbent, possibly swinging the majority vote for citywide issues on the Board of Supervisors in their favor.

There are six seats on the board up for grabs Nov. 8.

The D1 race is expected to be between school board member Sandra Lee Fewer, a progressive, and political consultant Marjan Philhour, who is aligned with moderate politicians. There are also eight other candidates in the running for the seat currently occupied by Supervisor Eric Mar, who is terming out after eight years.

The other candidates are David Lee, Jonathan Lyens, Bryan Larkin, Andy Thornley, Sam Kwong, Richie Greenberg, Jason Jungreis and Sherman Dsilva.

Ahead of the vote, Fewer has aligned herself with District 9 candidate Hillary Ronen and District 11 candidate Kimberly Alvarenga, the other two progressive hopefuls. The trio of mothers announced “The Moms’ Plan” for City Hall last month.

For Fewer, 59, that means retaining existing affordable housing while also building it, curbing rampant car break-ins and re-envisioning public transit for the Richmond beyond the long-delayed Geary Corridor Bus Rapid Transit project.

Fewer, a Richmond District resident of five decades whose husband is a retired San Francisco police officer, said she is for “measured and planned growth” in the Richmond.

“We are a neighborhood, we are not downtown,” Fewer told the San Francisco Examiner’s editorial board during a recent meeting. “Our growth needs to be planned, and it needs to be planned well.”

On the other side of the aisle, Philhour said her main objectives would include reducing property crime and protecting renters. She is more critical of the Geary BRT, however, calling it a “failed manifestation” of transit planning during the Examiner editorial board meeting.

But Philhour also wants to “build up” on certain corridors in the Richmond like Geary Boulevard without constructing skyscrapers.

“It’s no coincidence that we have a housing crisis and a homeless crisis at the same time,” Philhour said. “We need to increase density within our existing zoning in the Richmond District.”

The political lines are drawn between Fewer and Philhour when looking at their support for various ballot measures.

Like her progressive allies, Fewer is against Proposition Q, the ban on sidewalk tents for the homeless, while supportive of Proposition L, which transfers to the Board of Supervisors the mayor’s ability to appoint members to The City’s transit board.

“It’s really not about the mayor. It’s not about Ed Lee,” Fewer said. “It is about a more democratic way to govern San Francisco.”

Philhour supports Prop. Q from moderate Supervisor Mark Farrell on the other hand, believing it gives new homeless director Jeff Kozinski another tool to combat homelessness.

Philhour is against Proposition H, the creation of a Public Advocate to oversee city government, because supervisors should already be public advocates, she said, and is also against Prop. L, the transit board measure, because she fears it will lead to a “lack of accountability.”

According to campaign filings from 2016, Philhour has received some $48,000 in contributions to her campaign and spent more than three times as much. In comparison, Fewer has received about $152,000 and spent about $172,000.

Community Issues

The other eight candidates in the running are up for a variety of issues.

Lee, a political science teacher at San Francisco State University, helped place a measure on the ballot last year to increase government transparency by streaming City Hall meetings, but it failed.

A small business owner and Richmond resident focused on neighborhood issues, Lee is the third highest fundraiser in the race with some $66,000 in contributions.

Lyens, who worked in the mayor’s budget office during the recession, said he would make it a priority to review the annual $241 million San Francisco spends on homelessness. Lyens has also been blind since childhood and said his disability would help him fight to keep San Francisco open to all.

Larkin, a former Bay Area Rapid Transit employee, said his priorities would be to extend the Muni light-rail system through a tunnel into the Richmond and move utility lines underground.

Thornley, a San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency employee, wants to increase height limits for buildings along Geary Boulevard and is also a supporter of the Geary BRT. Notably, said he would consider building a Navigation Center in the Richmond.

Kwong, a Chinatown-based architect and Richmond resident, said he has the experience to change building codes to boost the construction of housing in San Francisco.

“I understand what it takes to build anything in this city,” Kwong told the editorial board. “We really have to look at the codes and get the reforms on the codes so that all of the housing that is needed can be built.”

Greenberg, a 15-year San Francisco resident and business adviser, said he would audit government spending and wants to act as a moderator to address the problems of the neighborhood.

Jungreis, a clean technology attorney and Richmond homeowner, has a “common sense” proposal to change transit on Geary Boulevard by adding more buses and rush-hour transit lanes, among other things, that he said would be more cost-effective than the BRT.

DSilva, who lost a supervisor campaign eight years ago, is mainly running to add and sync traffic lights along Geary Boulevard.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated Marjan Philhour wants to increase zoning in the Richmond. Philhour said she wants to increase density within the neighborhood’s existing zoning.

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