Trump’s surprising success shocks city politics

A fat, turgid shadow hangs over San Francisco.

Any other election night, you would’ve heard cheers across The City. Instead, heads hung low.

A soda tax passed, a victory for health in our poorest neighborhoods. Supervisors won office, who will steer what President William Taft dubbed in 1911 “The City That Knows How” into the future of our housing crisis.

Still, our heads hung low. Trump trumped all.

In a city where Democrats from progressive to moderate argue over housing, argue over police, argue over everything, many of us agree on outcomes — we just disagree on how to get there.

Nothing casts that in a harsher light than a Donald Trump presidential victory.

Even Tony Winnicker, famously dubbed by the late Rose Pak as one of Mayor Ed Lee’s “baldies,” who is infamous for machiavellian scheming to thwart progressives took no joy in his wins.

Propositions D, H, L and M, all meant to curtail mayoral power, went down in flames. Any other night, and Winnicker would be tap dancing. But at state Senate candidate Scott Wiener’s election party on Market Street, Winnicker looked dour under the indigo blacklights.

“Locally, we’re having a really good night,” he said to me, “but it’s not meaningful.”

“Oh, we defeated proposition L, who cares?”

“Scott versus Jane. Who cares?” he pondered. “Perspective.”

At District 1 supervisor candidate Sandra Lee Fewer’s election party at Plough and the Stars, the candidate said she was “terrified” of a Trump victory.

I think we all are.

There is some light in the darkness. We’ve got legal marijuana! And though the results are not final, supervisor candidate Hillary Ronen has likely won District 9, the Mission and Bernal neighborhoods. Her opponent Joshua Arce is a passionate fellow, he should continue seeking San Francisco office, but his politics didn’t mesh well with the progressive district.

The District 1 race between Fewer and Marjan Philhour is likely to be close, and counted over the next few days. But I will say, those two supervisors moderate and progressive, have fought the most civil battle in all of San Francisco.

Though I disagree with Marjan’s politics, both deserve respect.

District 11 is perhaps the most disappointing. There we see a candidate leading, Ahsha Safai, who has shown a penchant for mistruth, who smiles sweetly but accomplishes little. Kimberly Alvarenga has seemingly lost.

And San Francisco has seen many failures: A lack of taxes for homelessness and Muni, via Proposition K, may imperil the expansion of transit and efforts to help the homeless across The City. And I fear for San Franciscans hearts that they would back Proposition Q — an empty measure against tents on the streets that accomplishes nothing, save to vilify.

Yet despite the victories, despite the defeats, all of it tastes bitter. A wine that’s turned. Election night is traditionally a catharsis for politically charged San Francisco — where we shed the politicians who’ve wronged us, start fresh and change laws for the better.

But no matter how much we’ve accomplished, how can we be satisfied in the era of Trump?

Our immigrant community, women, minorities, everyone who weaves in the fabric of San Francisco and makes us who we are, all fall under Trump’s crosshairs.

If he wins, there is only one thing San Francisco can do:

Show Trump, and show the United States, why San Francisco leads the nation with love, with acceptance, with tolerance. We need to be “The City That Knows How,” again –– for everyone.

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

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