Dean Preston, a tenant advocate, pulled papers Friday to run for the District 5 seat being vacated by Mayor-Elect London Breed. Preston previously ran against Breed in 2016. (Jessica Christian/ 2016 S.F. Examiner)

Former D5 candidate Dean Preston announces he’ll run again — this time, as a democratic socialist

Fresh off the Bronx miracle, another member of the Democratic Socialists of America is set to fight locally: Dean Preston.

For those that are thinking — Don’t I remember that guy? — yes, Preston ran against Mayor-Elect London Breed for her District 5 supervisor seat in 2016.

(District 5 is the Western Addition, Lower Haight, part of the Inner Sunset and in between, for those watching at home).

Preston is filing his declaration of intent to solicit or accept contributions Friday morning, a fancy legalese way of saying he’s beginning the legal process to run for District 5 supervisor, a seat that’s now held by Breed. Even now, I’m told Breed’s office is vetting possible appointments to replace her on the Board of Supervisors.

Preston lost to Breed in 2016, but he’s still got fire in his belly. This time, he told me, things will be different.

SEE RELATED: Housing activist, homegrown fighter duke it out to represent District 5

“It’s time for someone to step up,” he told me, Friday.

Preston ran as a progressive-aligned Democrat in his last D5 race, but with the surprise win of democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York House Democratic Primary last week, who ousted long-established Representative Joe Crowley, the DSA is the new place to be. And that’s true locally too.

The DSA played a strong role in campaigning against, and defeating, Prop. H, the Taser ballot measure. And along with a coalition of tenants rights groups and communities of color the DSA aided Prop. F’s victory in San Francisco, bringing tenants rights to all. As I type these words, DSA volunteers are gathering signatures for a ballot measure, Our City Our Homes, intended to house thousands of San Franciscans experiencing homelessness.

And for those new to the group, socialism and Democratic socialism aren’t the same — these folks mainly call for a restricted role for corporations (and capitalism), and an expanded role for democracy to provide for society (like health care, for instance).

So why is Preston running on a Democratic Socialist platform now, when he didn’t in 2016?

“I don’t think it’s a switch in terms of my policies,” he said. “These are deeply held and long term beliefs. (But) Bernie opened the door for all of us who have those beliefs and values to talk about that.”

The district may already have signaled Preston has a strong chance. In 2016 he lost to Breed, an incumbent with lots of money behind her, by roughly 2,000 votes — 21,318 to 19,534. With name recognition already in place, he may emerge as an early front runner. As in 2016, he said he’ll focus on homelessness and the housing crisis.

Technically, the D5 race isn’t slated until 2020. But as soon as Breed is inaugurated as mayor, which will vacate the D5 seat, legal machinations will unfold, placing the D5 race squarely in Nov. 2019, as long as no special elections are called between now and then. Preston said he’ll spend that early lead time campaigning for Our City, Our Home along with his own race.

“I’m going to do everything I can to get that passed,” he said.

On Guard prints the news and raises hell each week. Email Fitz at, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @FitztheReporter, and Facebook at

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