Economy top concern in Castro, Noe

Ensuring vibrant commercial corridors, smart in-fill development along upper Market Street and a reliable Muni are the matters on the minds of voters in the traditionally moderate Castro and Noe Valley neighborhoods.

The person elected on Nov. 2 to represent these neighborhoods as the District 8 supervisor on the Board of Supervisors will have to play the part of peacemaker in the conflicts that often emerge between residents and merchants of this area.

One of the district’s biggest challenges in recent years seems to have been solved — the annual Halloween celebration in the Castro that grew out of control and was marred by violence.

Most attention nowadays is focused on bringing in the right businesses to keep commercial corridors vibrant. While business advocates favored the chain store Trader Joe’s moving in to boost foot traffic, residents found the proposal unsavory. And then there are residents who are unhappy with the behavior of patrons who pour out of the Castro bars after hours and raise a ruckus in the residential streets.

Resident Alan Beach, president of the Eureka Valley/Castro Neighborhood Association, said the biggest problem he wants the newcomer to solve is finding the right balance between the night entertainment in the Castro and “the right to the peaceful enjoyment of one’s home.”

Development now being eyed for parcels along upper Market Street is also raising concerns.

Public transit is another key issue, important not only for commuters but for bringing tourists into the internationally recognized Castro.

“A lot of my businesses depend on those tourists to eat, drink and spend money,” said Stephen Adams, president of the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro Association.

Petty crime, such as auto break-ins or shoplifting, can plague Noe Valley, while late-night assaults are a concern in the Castro.

Debra Niemann, a resident and executive director of the Noe Valley Association, said she would like to see The City make it easier for small-business owners to open shops and for families to stay in the area.

“This is the land of babies and dogs,” Niemann said. “We need a supervisor who understands the needs of families and kids.”

Five seats on the Board of Supervisors are up for election Nov. 2, and their outcomes will change the political dynamics on the board, which has operated as a progressive bloc, often at odds with Mayor Gavin Newsom and his moderate allies.

The district historically votes more moderate than progressive. District 8 supervisor Bevan Dufty, being termed out, is a “tweener,” a moderate who sometimes votes with progressives and can be the swing vote, that elusive eighth vote that makes the difference whether legislation approved by the board can withstand a mayoral veto.

  Candidates for S.F. District 8  


Bill Hemenger

Date of birth: March 11, 1969
Neighborhood: Diamond Heights
Occupation: Full-time candidate for District 8

Campaign platform in 20 words or less: Jobs, accountability, growth and balance.  

What is the most significant issue facing your district? The unemployment rate, which is just a sign of The City’s failure to attract and keep businesses here. Jobs relate to the survival of small businesses, to home foreclosures and real estate prices, and to all the services and programs that set us apart from other cities in the U.S. and to which San Franciscans have shown their commitment.



Rafael Mandelman

Date of birth: Oct. 17, 1973
Neighborhood: Dolores Park
Occupation: Attorney
Campaign platform in 20 words or less: Protect the most vulnerable, preserve and improve public services upon which we all rely, ensure new development benefits existing communities.

What is the most significant issue facing your district? Our public education system has become increasingly important. Although The City’s direct involvement in the schools is limited, there are ways for The City to funnel resources and other support to our schools. There is also deep and widespread frustration with our broken public transportation system. Gentrification and the loss of affordable housing are also a key issues.


Rebecca Prozan

Date of birth: Aug. 23, 1971
Neighborhood: Castro
Occupation: Assistant district attorney

Campaign platform in 20 words or less: I put San Francisco first. I will work to solve everyday and citywide problems, like housing, transportation, schools and public safety.

What is the most significant issue facing your district? The economy. Many people are either unemployed or underemployed, businesses are struggling to stay open and many people face the option of having to leave The City because they simply cannot afford to live here. District 8 residents want smart ways to cut costs, and many feel strongly about controlling waste while maintaining crucial services. 


Scott Wiener

Date of birth:  May 11, 1970
Neighborhood:  Castro (17th and Diamond)
Occupation:  Deputy city attorney
Campaign platform in 20 words or less: I will focus on running our city, not international affairs or other endeavors that don’t impact people’s quality of life.

What is the most significant issue facing your district? Muni, public safety, the school assignment system, access to health care and improving public spaces are all significant issues in the district.




Board in the balance

This is the second of four installments profiling the candidates and issues for the five open San Francisco supervisor seats, out of 11 total, in the Nov. 2 election. The series will continue for the next two Thursdays.

Sept. 30: District 10
TODAY: District 8
Oct. 14:
District 6
Oct. 21: Districts 4 and 2

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