Election '07: Letters from the mayoral candidates
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This year's race for San Francisco mayor has brought out a group of candidates with a wide range of ideas and viewpoints. As the campaign enters its final weeks, the [X]Press newspaper and website will provide special coverage of the 2007 races.

To gain a better understanding of what each mayoral hopeful has to offer, we have invited Mayor Gavin Newsom and his rivals to outline their goals for San Francisco over the next four years.

Nine of the twelve candidates for mayor sent us their essays. Shorter versions of the essays will run in the print edition of [X]Press. The longer versions of the essays are listed here at [X]Press Online, along with links to all of the candidates websites.

GAVIN NEWSOM

San Francisco is a beacon.

We are the first American city to launch universal health care. We are taking bold action on climate change, utilizing the greenest and cleanest new technologies. We helped lead the fight for civil rights and stood up for marriage equality when other cities backed down. We won the stem cell center in Mission Bay because the nation knows we are a capital of innovation. I’m proud of the last four years, and the facts show that San Francisco is making progress.

We have signed up 1,850 San Franciscans for phase one of our universal health care program, Healthy San Francisco, and now we’re on track to provide access to comprehensive high-quality health care for all 82,000 uninsured residents. We reconnected 2,280 homeless San Franciscans with their families through Homeward Bound. Another 2,062 formerly homeless residents have moved into permanent supportive housing as a result of Care Not Cash. We added 416 new police officers to protect our neighborhoods. And our new 311 Call Center has already answered over one million calls, making city government easily accessible to all residents. We’ve spent the last four years pursuing big ideas, while making sure that we address everyday quality-of-life issues too—like filling potholes and cleaning the streets.

But like all San Franciscans, I know we still have a lot of work to do.

We need free municipal WiFi to close the digital divide and bring Internet access to all of our residents. We need to reform and improve MUNI based on the findings of the Transit Effectiveness Project. We need a community justice court to continue the progress on homelessness sparked by Care Not Cash. We need to rebuild every public housing project and connect every San Francisco neighborhood with access to good jobs and great schools.

But to make those reforms a reality in the future, and to continue the progress of the past four years, I need your help.

The election is almost here and all indicators point to a record-low turnout. Please prove them wrong by voting on Tuesday, November 6th and send a clear message at the ballot box—that we want San Francisco to keep moving in the right direction.

I would be honored to have your support for another four years so that we can continue the work we’ve started.

Gavin Newsom campaign website

H. BROWN

Brown did not turn in a response.

GEORGE DAVIS

The goal of the campaign is to educate and bring about a Free Body Culture movement to make America more like Europe. The Free Body Culture (Freikorperkultur = FKK) is a century old political/social movement advocating nudism in sports, recreation, leisure and home life. The Free Body Culture has only been suppressed during periods of German militarism during World War I and the National Socialist (Nazi) periods. The Free Body Culture is the dominant philosophy in Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, and other areas of Europe. My first act as mayor would be to make Golden Gate Park clothing optional like the major urban parks in Europe.

(Ironically, public nudity absent lewd conduct is legal in California by court decisions like in re Smith, except Golden Gate Park which has a nudity ordinance passed 40 years ago by an unelected Parks and Recreation Commission.)

By extension this campaign advocates social benefits that Europeans take for granted like 6 week vacations, sabbatical leave, universal health care, guaranteed incomes, and union representation on corporate boards. Agreed these are mainly Federal and State issues, but the reason that Americans don’t have these benefits is because the government is controlled by an billionaire oligarchic Demo-publican political machine which even reaches into the San Francisco mayor’s office.

On the ballot initiatives, I would encourage public transit first with a Yes on A and No on H. I always vote for money for the libraries. Yes, the mayor should have to answer to the Board of Supervisors and the citizens for administration acts and policies.

I support “free” Muni. We already have “free” transit at San Francisco airport. Seattle has “free” downtown transit. Las Vegas has a “free” monorail. Right now fares only pay for about 20% of the Muni budget. With no fare collection, transit operators can operate more safely, courteously, and timely. The remainder of the Muni budget can come from downtown and commercial transit district fees.

For maintaining diversity in San Francisco, I would not allow any big box, chains, or formula retail. The merchants would then represent the respective diversity of their neighborhoods.

For housing and once again this is a Federal tax issue, I would advocate making low and moderate income housing profitable to developers. There is certainly developable land available for housing on Mission Street (prior to 1950 the second busiest retail district in San Francisco), Van Ness Ave, Geary Blvd, Third Street, and underutilized Port and City land. Developers and Investors could be offered construction loan interest subsidies, accelerated front loaded depreciation schedules of 10-15 years, and passive loss on other income. Also, the HUD Section 8 housing program could be expanded.

You are invited to explore the blogs at www.gonakedyoga.com for more campaign details and background.

LONNIE HOLMES

My name is Lonnie S. Holmes a native of San Francisco, in choosing the next Mayor, we face a clear choice: We can stay chained to the status quo, or we can move boldly into the future, a future that will embrace us all and not just a select few. In the few months since I announced I was running for Mayor, I've met thousands of people in every corner of this great city who've said to me, "I want to move boldly into the future. I want my city to continue to challenge itself to do better." This is why you will get more demonstration and less conversation from a Holmes administration.

I will be a Mayor who will reach out to all residents of San Francisco regardless of their status. I am asking all residents to join me in our journey towards a better future for all San Franciscans:

*A future where our school system is second to none – where children have the tools they need to learn and teachers have the tools they need to teach.

*A future where a college education is guaranteed for every high school graduate in our city who wants one and a future where excellent vocational programs leading to well-paying jobs are available for those students who choose that route to success.

*A future where there is a mix of housing options, including affordable housing, and housing for our poor, students and homeless, across our city.

It is a brighter future:

*Where quality health care is a right – not a privilege, and where citizens in all parts of San Francisco have access to primary care, and excellent hospitals.

*Where we develop partnerships between the government, the non-profit sector and our faith community to effectively battle the epidemic of STD’s and HIV/AIDS that is ravaging our people.

*A future where our business leaders and environmentalists work together to build our city while protecting our environment, and where developers and community activists can find common ground to build and strengthen our neighbors and provide well-paying jobs to support our families.

It's a future:

*Where we deliver balanced budgets that will still provide essential services to those in our city least able to fight for themselves – our children, our seniors, an our poor.

*And where we won't continue to build new high rises yet, we can't afford to fix our schools and pay our teachers a living wage.

• With 20 years of experience working in the Law Enforcement community, I have been known to address matters how large or how small in a very detailed manner. As a Manager for the SF Juvenile Probation Department, public safety, affordable housing, education, recreation, and the building of our neighborhoods are issues I deal with on a regular basis. As Mayor, I will do the same for our entire city and I will challenge professionals to build a dynamic administration, competent and ready to tackle our most pressing issues. This cannot be done without working with Black, White, Latino, Asian, straight, gay and others, this is our city, and it is only by working together that we will have a better San Francisco for everyone.

As a working class person looking for working class solution that will involve all of you, I again say, you will get more demonstration and less conversation from a Holmes! Please vote for Lonnie Holmes on November 6, 2007 as your next Mayor for San Francisco. Thank you. .

Regarding the ballot propositions, I would encourage you all to vote for what you believe is in the best interest of San Francisco. Some of the things I look for when deciding to support a proposition is accountability, affordability, and transparency.

Lonnie Holmes website

HAROLD HOOGASIAN

As a candidate for mayor there are many compelling issues that beg and tug for an opinion, a position or just time and attention. Candidates address issues and try to persuade any given audience to accept that candidate as their choice. That is the role of a politician. That is not my role. I am not a politician. What I seek to do in my career, first as candidate and later as mayor, is to present clearly and effectuate my vision of the better, more livable future that San Francisco deserves.

My vision for a better, more livable San Francisco includes all the traditional hot buttons: transportation, housing, safer and cleaner streets without undue burden on our businesses or residents. San Francisco can have all of those things without much more than sound management and visionary development. I hope you will read on.

The key to any city is a healthy environment and sound transportation. My vision includes the construction of subway light-rail on major corridors (19th Avenue Park Presidio, Geary, the Marina—by extending the proposed Chinatown subway, Van Ness and Potrero Avenues would be the first projects). As one might imagine, with subways come subway stations. Further, though, with subway stations comes the opportunity to build transit-oriented, mixed use developments. Not high rises, but rather, high value, envelopes of development entitlement to property owners in exchange for the accesses to the subways.

Those envelopes of development must include housing opportunities for public service employees (police, firefighters, teachers, etc.). With that we would have fulltime residents whose profession is to keep our streets safe… creating a buy-in to our city for our employees with the added value of keeping the city [taxpayer paid] paychecks of those employees from being spent in far flung suburbs. Hence, the value added without undue burden to business and residents as those very businesses and residents would benefit from the new infusion of previously lost city employee paychecks.

With a transit backbone of several subway lines crisscrossing our city, many residents would find they no longer need a car, relieving the need for the “parking space wars” that infest our ballot and our legislative and planning chambers. With our public workers resident in greater numbers, our streets and transit would be measurably safer (visualize off duty cops taking Metro to work). I believe my vision is clearer to you now.

Harold Hoogasian website

GRASSHOPPER ALEC KAPLAN

I, Grasshopper Alec Kaplan, am running for Mayor of San Francisco because I want to make our city a place where people can live.

My motto is housing, housing, housing. If you work here, you gotta be able to live here.

On November 6th, 2007, vote Grasshopper for Mayor. Vote Grasshopper for change. Peace, love, and Grasshopper. Let’s make San Francisco beautiful. Let’s make San Francisco a place where people can live – in office spaces, with eviction protection. In every part of the city there are vacant commercial spaces. Let’s make it legal to live, here in San Francisco, by making it legal to live in office spaces, and giving people eviction protection who already do. Let’s eliminate local Ellis Act evictions.

Let’s make San Francisco beautiful, with total amnesty for undocumented people. Let’s legalize prostitution and sex work, and encourage safe practices. Let’s make Gavin Newsom walk the streets.

A vote for Grasshopper is a vote to impeach George Bush. Dick Cheney, and Nancy Pelosi too. The only dope that should be illegal is George Bush and Dick Cheney. Vote Grasshopper to impeach.

Let’s legalize marijuana, with a greens for peace program. We can all get behind a greens for peace program here in San Francisco – I’m talking about a local tax on cannabis to help support schools, roads, parks, homes and hospitals, but not jails, and not wars. Greens for peace. Everybody chill out, smoke a joint, and vote Grasshopper Alec Kaplan for Mayor.

For free Muni for residents with a downtown transit assessment district vote Grasshopper. For separate pathways for bicycles – vote Grasshopper.

Let’s make San Francisco Beautiful. Let’s make San Francisco a place where people can live – with freedom of mind, thought, and expression. Vote Grasshopper Alec Kaplan for Mayor. Thank you for your vote San Francisco.

Over 10 years as a taxicab driver, and as a vegan Bay swimmer, Grasshopper is uniquely qualified to bring you a world-class transit system where you won’t need nor want to have a car. Vote Grasshopper for Mayor.

Let’s make our city one where not just the 21 billionaires, but the rest of us, working people, students, artists, musicians and just plain outcasts – where anyone is welcome, in a celebration of diversity and freedom. Stop the war. Stop the torture and terror. Vote Grasshopper Alec Kaplan for Mayor.

QUINTIN MECKE

So far this election season, you have been bombarded by carefully scripted press releases from Gavin Newsom’s administration designed to make you believe that he is running unopposed in this year’s mayoral race. Newsom’s team has lots of money and media allies to reinforce that message.

At the same time, he has carefully refused to debate me. I am confident that once you have the opportunity to compare our respective positions, character and vision, you will cast your vote for change.

You are the one who gets to decide the fate of this city. You do have a choice. You can vote for change to send a message to our incumbent Mayor that you believe San Francisco can do better.

In recent years, San Franciscans have experienced a spike in homicides and violent crime, an epidemic of homelessness, an affordable housing crisis and a failed MUNI system. The next mayor of San Francisco needs to address these crucial issues head on, with bold and innovative solutions.

In 2004, the Mayor said he would sign his own recall petition if homicide rates didn’t go down. Homicide rates are up. The Mayor’s refusal to hold himself accountable for our public safety is just one of many examples of his failed leadership, and one reason I am compelled to challenge him on November 6.

The Mayor tried to sell San Franciscans a “free” wireless plan that will actually turn our public airwaves over to a corporation. He vilifies and criminalizes those who are poor and without a home, while refusing to take steps to improve the shelter system, to stop evictions that result in homelessness, or to advocate for those living in poverty in our city.

He consistently supports the construction of luxury housing over affordable housing options. He is giddy about the construction of housing that is unaffordable to nearly all San Franciscans, while consistently favoring real estate interests over those of San Francisco’s tenants. Mayor Newsom refuses to take a stand against Ellis Act evictions by real estate speculators.

His only successes are initiatives proposed and led by members of the Board of Supervisors. While the District Supervisors work tirelessly to represent their constituents, the Mayor places style over substance, press releases over action.

I am the choice for people who want to see real change, real progress in our city. I offer substantive solutions to real problems facing San Francisco. My campaign seeks to move this city forward, in a new direction that reclaims the best of San Francisco.

Please join me. Together, we will elevate substance over style, and show that San Francisco can do better.

Thank you for your support.

Quintin Mecke website

WILMA PANG

Campaign debates and promises have rehashed the same volatile issues over many election cycles. Let’s implement solutions with an integrated approach! As Mayor, I would coalesce professionalism in government to focus our resources on solutions. I am a consensus-builder with life experiences that resonate with a broad spectrum of San Franciscans:

-As a single parent: I have raised three college-degreed (one PhD) daughters through the SF school system.

-As a college professor: I have taught music, Citizenship and ESL at City College of SF for over 30 years. I am a SF State University alumnus.

-As a community activist: I am founder of ABCT (A Better Chinatown Tomorrow), a community based organization that preserves Chinatown’s cultural heritage. I teach citizenship courses to immigrants.

-As a person in charge: I have worked harmoniously with diverse ethnicities as a North Beach/ Chinatown Neighborhood Arts Organizer for the SF Arts Commission and abroad as an Australian Ethnic Arts Officer.

-As a business owner: I work with events planning and performing artists to showcase Asian culture.

-As a lifetime renter: I know first hand tenant issues and the challenges of affordable housing.

-As a Muni rider: I see daily the unfulfilled needs for quality, world class public transit.

EDUCATION: Integrated collaboration of public, nonprofit and private entities---linking parents, vocational education, juvenile delinquency, social services, recreation, language and neighborhood empowerment.

FAMILY INCENTIVES TO STAY IN SF: Refocus on fundamental public infrastructure, childcare, preschool programs and quality of life issues.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING: Integrated planning and permitting by government, nonprofits, builders, architects and communities, with a broader range of housing types.

SMALL BUSINESS: User-friendly public services with incentives for job creation, rewards for quality/ contributions to the community.

MUNI: Integrated Muni staff and community. Increased funding (Yes on Prop A’s additional $26 million). Reinforce transit-first policy; reduced greenhouse gas emissions (No on Prop H’s increased parking/ cars).

HOMELESSNESS: Assess existing public, nonprofit and private resources. Establish specific responsibilities; refocus funds to diversion programs and compact housing.

HOMICIDE: Focus public, nonprofit and private resources on building an interrelated community network, with a partnership of City Departments, the citizenry, schools, recreation, health/ family services…..

As an Asian-Pacific-Islander and the first Chinese-American woman candidate for Mayor, I also want to advocate the issues of API’s and the voices of women and minorities---to universally enable the American dream.

Wilma Pang website

MIKE POWERS

As a candidate for Mayor it is my intent to accomplish the following tasks
for my fellow residents. I will:

-make Muni free and introduce a community bicycle program with 10,000 bikes as in Paris.

-protect our cities skyline through slow growth rather than our present program of Manhattanization.

-lower our crime rate by increasing the number of police officers we have on our streets by use of Lateral Transfer hiring and insisting that sworn personnel are not wasted on administrative duties.

-use our bike program to allow the homeless to become its supervised labor pool in their maintenance, thus teaching them a trade.

-encouraging the promotion of Harvey Milk's birthday as a national holiday.

Mike Powers website

CHICKEN JOHN RINALDI

Rinaldi did not turn in a response.

Chicken John Rinaldi website

AHIMSA PORTER SUMCHAI

Sumchai did not turn in a response.

Ahimsa Porter Sumchai website

JOSH WOLF

Jello Biafra, the lead singer of the Dead Kennedys, once proclaimed, “Don’t hate the media, become the media.” And I did. After watching biased coverage of political protests on the news, I picked up a camera and began shooting what I saw. One of the videos I shot resulted in me spending 226 days in a federal detention center just two months after graduating from San Francisco State. The FBI demanded that I turn over my unpublished video and testify about the identities of the protestors; I refused.

In 1979, Jello ran for mayor of San Francisco, and while I can’t really say that he directly inspired my campaign or my decision to pursue journalism, the Dead Kennedys certainly influenced my life.

I am running for mayor to present an alternative to business as usual, to resist the machine politics that dominate the city, and to propose a model for real, direct democracy. Politicians buy and sell their influence like commodities on the stock market; backroom deals and empty rhetoric dominate, and it is the everyday people, people like you and me, who suffer. I’m running to change that. It’s time to open up government and create a society that empowers every man woman, and child to have an active voice in planning our city’s future.

Right now, there is no real way to enter a conversation with our officials. The mayor refuses to participate in question time at the Board of Supervisors’ meetings, and the voice of the community is often silenced. We can do better.

It wasn’t possible to create a direct democracy when our country was founded, the technical demands just couldn’t be met. With the advent of the internet and Web 2.0, we can begin moving toward real democracy. The idea is simple: every single issue that goes before our government should have it’s own node – it’s own web page – created that allows for people to comment about the matter, propose alternatives to the solutions already on the table, and take part in straw polls to get a feel for where the people stand. I’m calling it SFDemocracy.net and I will be working to develop this project no matter who is elected mayor. I hope you’ll join me to help make it a reality.

On November 6th, please vote for me, Josh Wolf, as your first choice for Mayor of San Francisco. It’s time for a new democracy!

Josh Wolf website

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