Newsom: I’m in campaign mode

Mayor Gavin Newsom, who will give his State of The City address today, said the facts he plans to lay out will prove that San Francisco “is heading in the right direction.”

Newsom, who is up for re-election next month against a field of candidates who do not have his political clout or fundraising capability, said he’s still operating in campaign mode, noting that San Franciscans “don’t like presumptive candidates.”

“We’re an underdog city,” he told The Examiner’s editorial board on Friday.

Newsom said The City is moving forward, adding that there were “areas where we believe we could do better and more, and areas that continue to frustrate us.”

He cited San Francisco’s public transportation system as an example. Muni’s on-time performance, which Newsom said is at 71.9 percent, is up from 65.5 percent in 2001. In 1999, city residents passed a ballot measure that set the on-time goal at 85 percent.

“Am I satisfied? No,” Newsom said. “But the fact is we’re moving in the right direction.”

Newsom also touted a 10 percent drop in overall crime in The City, while adding that “homicides [are] the obvious exception.” The City is on track for having one of its most violent years in a decade, with 88 homicides to date.

“That’s something we’re focused on and deliberative about and we’re committed to doing more and better, and we’ll continue to advance new initiatives and ideas until we finally turn that around,” Newsom said.

Newsom also said he was proud of the fact that his Care Not Cash program — which significantly reduces a homeless person’s general assistance check in exchange for housing — has provided permanent shelter for more than 2,000 people who used to live on the streets.

Then he took a self-deprecating step back.

“We recognize [that] we haven’t solved poverty, we haven’t solved homelessness and we haven’t ended panhandling in The City,” he said. “But we’re heading in the right direction and we’ve turned the corner and I’m pleased.”

Other accomplishments Newsom said he will highlight in his address today include The City’s bustling economy, a decrease in unemployment, increases in housing development, civil-service reforms, environmental strides and a formal partnership with The City’s school district to improve San Francisco’s schools, among others.

Newsom also noted joint accomplishments with the Board of Supervisors — such as a new city program to provide affordable health care access to The City’s uninsured — “in spite of differences.”

Annual State of the City address

Today at 1 p.m.

University of California at San Francisco

Mission Bay Campus Community Center

Robertson Auditorium

1675 Owens St. (at 16th Street)

beslinger@examiner.com

Each day until voters go to the polls Nov. 6, The Examiner lays odds on local figures beating Mayor Gavin Newsom. Check out our exclusive blog: San Francisco's Next Mayor?

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