Supervisors quick with attacks in debate for Assembly seat

Supervisor David Campos went on the attack against board President David Chiu from the outset of Thursday night’s debate in the race for a state Assembly seat, as the candidates covered everything from Google buses to whether to let bars stay open until 4 a.m.

The two liberal Democrats and Board of Supervisors colleagues sought to carve out their own distinct political identities as they vied for the endorsement of the San Francisco Young Democrats, the political group hosting the debate. Afterward, group members voted to endorse Campos for the Assembly District 17 seat.

Campos, a Guatemalan native who is gay and immigrated to the U.S. at age 14, opened his remarks by referring to “A Tale of Two Cities” to highlight San Francisco’s economic disparities. In doing so, he attacked Chiu, saying there is also a “tale of two David Chius.” Campos said he is on the side of the underdog stakeholders. “At the end of day, when the rubber hits the road, I am going with them, not the Chamber of Commerce,” Campos said.

But Chiu, a first-generation Chinese-American from Boston, deflected criticism by saying he builds consensus around issues. “We need an Assembly person who can be effective,” Chiu said. “[Campos has] actually not been able to pass very much legislation.”

On a pending state law proposal to let bars stay open until 4 a.m., Campos was in support, while Chiu said he was “open” to it. Both said The City should charge Google and other commuter buses to use Muni stops more than the approved $1 per stop. But Campos criticized Chiu for not stating his position publicly until at the debate.

As Campos sought to tie Chiu to big business, the board president shot back, saying, “I am in nobody’s pockets.”

Still, both candidates agreed on many points, such as hiking the minimum wage to $15. They also backed a city charter change to take away the mayor’s power to appoint a board replacement if candidates vacates their seats.

Attorney David Waggoner said that “Campos came out very strong” and drew “clear distinctions.” “He gave a very populist message about making San Francisco and the state of California affordable to all.”

John Baldo, a member of the Young Democrats, said he has been impressed by “Chiu’s ability to bring people together and actually pass comprehensive legislation,” and was put off by Campos’ debate style. “I think he was way too aggressive and definitely too attacking and critical when it really wasn’t necessary.”

Others remained undecided.

“One is more of a person who will compromise. Another one is more of a straightforward progressive,“ said voter John Kelly. “I think it is going to be difficult to choose between them. But I think that the most important thing to find out is what they can accomplish in Sacramento.”

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