State Sen. Scott Wiener has dropped his endorsement of controversial school board candidate Josephine Zhao.
Wiener revealed the move Wednesday in a text message with this columnist, the first time he has voiced that position publicly.
“When Josephine dropped out of the race, my endorsement ended,” Wiener said.
Zhao first came under fire in August after 48 Hills and The San Francisco Examiner reported that she had told Chinese-language newspapers in 2013 that a transgender bathroom law would lead to “rape” of children.
That’s transphobic as hell.
While she initially apologized, it was later revealed she told her supporters, exclusively in Chinese-language group text messages, that her apology was only to save face with the English speaking press, and voters. Essentially, while Zhao apologized for those comments to the English speaking community, she told a private chat room of hundreds of Chinese speakers that her own opinions remained unchanged.
Zhao announced she was dropping out of the race in September. But this past weekend, local social media lit up like a Christmas Tree with photos of volunteers handing out campaign literature for her.
On Wednesday the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club also revealed Zhao had privately reached out to garner their support and told them she would not take office if she was elected — but had refused to say the same thing publicly.
That’s key, because although she publicly backed out of the race, legally it was too late to do so. Her name is still on the ballot.
“We asked her directly if she would accept a seat on the school board should she win in the election,” the club wrote in a Facebook post. “Josephine told us that it was not the right time for her to hold public office, and she committed to us personally that she would not accept the seat.”
But Zhao then reneged on her word. She lied.
To wit, from Toklas: “We asked her to consider making this announcement publicly, but she declined. We told her that we would make our own announcement to reduce any confusion in the lead up to the election. She then asked us to give her until Monday to make a statement, so we agreed to wait. At the time of this post, we have seen no public statement from Josephine, so we’re sharing this now.”
The Toklas club remained gracious. In its Facebook post, club leaders wrote that Zhao spoke to club leaders by phone and apologized for her use of “racial slurs,” name calling, and her rape comment. “We accepted her apology and expressed our hope that she has truly grown from the experience,” the club wrote.
Yet the club tasked Zhao with making a promise: “While we understand that she cannot control what other people do, she should call on her supporters to stop campaigning on her behalf. We aren’t quite sure why she has not. While we appreciate that Josephine has committed to us that she won’t serve either way, we still hope that she will make that statement publicly.”
Wiener himself was skeptical Zhao was organizing the literature handout. “I have seen no evidence at all that Josephine herself is campaigning,” Wiener said, “and if she does win, I don’t believe she will accept the seat.”
Well if that’s the truth, Zhao should say so, publicly, and soon.
Zhao’s move to ask forgiveness from one of The City’s most prominent LGBT groups, while at the same time refusing to publicly announce she would step down from her school board seat should she win, is very, very telling.
Disturbingly, even after her remarks and insincere apology became public, Zhao still retained some prominent endorsers, including Wiener — which he has since rectified — and Mayor London Breed.
It’s a tough political choice for Breed, as failing to support Zhao may cost her votes in the Chinese community, one of San Francisco’s largest voting blocs. Notably, the transgender community is not itself a large voting bloc.
That’s city politics I suppose: Social equity for all, as long as you can garner the votes.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Zhao did not return my requests for comment. When I last outed her lies in a September column, she text messaged me saying “Sigh, you will remain a baby.”
Well Josephine, “sigh” — I’m done giving you second chances, and the LGBT community and voters should be done with you too.
Here are some school board candidates you should consider instead:
The SF Democratic Party has endorsed Alison Collins and Li Miao Lovett, the SF Labor Council has endorsed those two candidates as well as Monica Chinchilla, and the San Francisco Examiner also endorsed Gabriela Lopez. Wiener has endorsed Michelle Parker, Phil Kim and Monica Chinchilla.
I’ll say that personally, I believe Mia Satya also strongly deserves consideration for her work with city youth.
Vote for any of them. Josephine who?
On Guard prints the news and raises hell each week. Email Fitz at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @FitztheReporter, and Facebook at facebook.com/FitztheReporter. educationPolitics