Recalls in San Francisco are a Sisyphean task. But the current effort to recall Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer following her “F*ck the POA” chant at an election night rally signals that at least a few, vocal Richmond residents are done electing divisive politicians and ready for representation by a unifying public servant. These recall organizers may fall short of the required signature threshold — more than 8,400 voters — but their message has gotten the ball rolling toward electoral change.
Recent recall efforts in San Francisco have largely fallen short. Most recently, supervisors Aaron Peskin and Jake McGoldrick survived attempted recalls. The power of incumbency, voter apathy, and a high signature threshold represent high hurdles that have foiled previous recall campaigns. Few signs suggest that Fewer will fare any differently than her predecessors: after all, she did win 52.4% of the vote in 2016 and has garnered headlines for progressive actions in City Hall.
Even if this recall effort fails short, the message voiced by the campaign is worth sending: Richmond residents deserve representation that rises above the political fray. Fewer’s chant represents the worst of our current political system, a system that favors politicians over public servants. Fewer’s chant, like the president’s tweets, were designed to inflame animosity and sow discord. Mission accomplished. As record of the chant has spread, so has partisan passion. The POA demanded an apology, Fewer marginally walked her comments back, and residents have been left in the wake of yet another unnecessary skirmish.
Though the need to recall Fewer does not amount to the mountain of evidence against President Trump, the principle behind the recall mirrors that being raised in the current impeachment proceedings: egregious behavior must be flagged and corrected. A recall, like an impeachment, may be a rash approach to bring about such a change, but every tool in our democratic toolbox merits use when the stakes are this high.
Now is not the time to create wedges between public servants tasked with advocating for public safety and police officers charged with actually protecting the public. According to city data compiled on Crime Mapping, there have been 20 incidents of assault, 31 incidents of battery, and 16 incidents of motor vehicle theft in the past month in the Richmond. Slurs and mud slinging will not fight this crime. Instead, the Richmond requires collaboration across partisan lines.
This recall is based on the fact that Fewer does not appear up to that bridge building. Though the POA is far from perfect—engaging in a fair amount of politicking themselves, the treatment they received from Fewer falls woefully short of what San Franciscans should expect.
With the 2020 election looming, this recall should send a clear signal to all potential candidates—Richmond residents demand more than a politician, they demand and need a true public servant that does not succumb to the partisan pressures of the moment.
Kevin Frazier lives in the Richmond and is pursuing a JD at the UC Berkeley School of Law. He previously interned in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.