Probably because they knew I would be there anyway, I was asked by the San Francisco Young Democrats to be the moderator for a series of debates among candidates for supervisor seats. Thus far, we have hosted a forum for candidates in districts 6 and 10. (We’ll be doing one for District 8 on Sept. 22.)
On Monday, I also moderated a Distract 6 debate sponsored by the South Beach/Mission Bay Merchants Association.
Obviously, I love the moderator gig. It’s fun to get to know the candidates and be in a room full of fellow wonks who ask excellent questions. If you haven’t been to a debate yet, here’s some of what you’re missing:
- I asked the candidates who they think will be or should be the interim mayor if Gavin Newsom is elected lieutenant governor. When District 10 candidate Lynette Sweet suggested Willie Brown, the room erupted in a mixture of applause, laughter and astonishment. At a District 6 debate, Jim Meko got an enthusiastic reception when he said he likes Public Defender Jeff Adachi, and Elaine Zamora threw a new name into the rumor mill when she suggested City Administrator Edwin Lee.
Most candidates struggled with this question: What law was passed by the Board of Supervisors in the past year that you would have voted against? This means that some candidates don’t know much about the job for which they are applying, or that they love everything the current board has done. Either reason is scary. My favorite answer was given by District 10 candidate Malia Cohen, who said, Meatless Mondays while holding back an eye-roll (trust me, you could tell). The sponsor of the Meatless Mondays resolution — current District 10 Supervisor Sophie Maxwell — was sitting only a few feet away and, unlike the rest of the room, did not applaud. At each debate, audience members are invited to write questions on cards that we collect and pose to the candidates. This is my favorite part because I get to ask the candidates questions like, “Will you attend the Folsom Street Fair and what will you wear?” “How many of you are just looking for a job?” and “What are your plans to clean up the human feces that is on our streets, sidewalks and driveways?” (That last one got huge applause.)
Progressive Democratic group sticks by its brethren in races
The San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee recently voted on whether to endorse certain candidates and ballot measures. The committee’s decisions go out into the world as the Democratic Party’s slate card, one of the most influential in The City.
In recent years, a majority of people elected to the committee have been progressives, which has meant endorsements for candidates that have helped to maintain a progressive majority on the Board of Supervisors.
Last week, I joined a million other people in violating city fire codes by piling into a tiny room to watch the committee vote.
Here’s a peek at the candidate-endorsement drama:
District 2: Janet Reilly won the committee’s endorsement by a landslide. Current District 2 Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, running for re-election, had this to say about the vote: “That’s lovely. The Politburo has spoken.”
District 4: Supervisor Carmen Chu is running for re-election unopposed, so everyone basically elected to endorse her candidacy. You know who didn’t? Supervisor David Campos, who pointedly abstained. I wonder if this will make things awkward at the City Hall holiday party?
District 6: A number of progressive candidates are running for this seat. The committee can endorse more than one candidate, but only Debra Walker got the endorsement. The room was in a tizzy of whispers and text messages about how committee Chairman Aaron Peskin, who’s supporting Walker, must have engineered the solo endorsement, leaving other progressives like Jane Kim, Jim Meko and Glendon Hyde off the list.
Lawsuit targets pension reform effort
A group of public employee unions are suing to keep the pension reform measure championed by Public Defender Jeff Adachi off the November ballot.
The lawsuit is rather technical and alleges that people who signed the petition to put the measure on the ballot were not provided with the full text of the proposed law, that the summary of the initiative shown to people who signed was different than the one submitted to the Department of Elections, and that ballot measures are only allowed to address one subject, but the pension measure changes pension, health care and union bargaining rules.
The suit also argues that changing employee contribution rates deprives them of property without due process of law.
This all may sound scary, but Adachi’s people aren’t too concerned.
“I’m confident that we will prevail,” said Darcy Brown, who’s managing the campaign for the pension reform measure.
The lawsuit has been referred to Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn, who ordered Elections Director John Arntz and Adachi to respond to the union’s complaint by Monday. I asked some fancy attorneys about Kahn and they tell me that he’s fair and efficient. Given the importance of this issue and the fact that the November ballots go to the printer Sept. 1, fair and efficient sounds like exactly what we need.