Students voice concerns to District 10 candidates
September 14, 2010 9:00 PM
Eight candidates vying for the District 10 supervisor seat addressed the need for job creation in Asian and African American communities when they spoke before an Asian American studies class Sept. 12 in Burk Hall.
"The purpose of organizing this panel was that the demographic of District 10 is always changing," said Grace Yoo, the professor for Asian American Communities: Changes and Development, which hosted the forum. We really wanted to highlight that. We wanted to hold the District 10 candidates to that."
Chris Jackson, one of 21 people running for the District 10 seat, gave an impassioned speech about the need to create employment opportunities in conjunction with education. The average District 10 resident reads at a seventh grade level, the former SF State student said.
"If you're a youth and you don't see that there is a lot of jobs in your community, why would you go to school?" Jackson said. "We have to intensify jobs so it's more affordable to go to school than slinging rock on the street."
Asian and African Americans make up more than 60 percent of the population, according to a 2003 study by the California Urban Issues Project, a San Francisco organization that focuses on the city's quality of life.
And as such, each candidate acknowledged that District 10, which includes the neighborhoods of Potrero Hill, Visitacion Valley and Bayview-Hunters Point, has major issues concerning diversity.
"In every one of these neighborhoods race is an issue," said Steve Moss, who has taught classes in the University's urban studies department. "Throughout Bayview and (Visitacion) Valley, frankly gay guys are moving in, Latinos are moving in, Asian Americans are moving in in what is historically an African American neighborhood and that is causing people some distress."
Marlene Tran, who has spent more than 35 years as a San Francisco educator, stressed her value to the district because of her multilingualism. Tran, who speaks English, Vietnamese, Cantonese and Mandarin, vowed to have employers translate job applications, signs and descriptions.
"Whatever's posted outside of businesses in District 10 is in English only," Tran said. "What good is it in places like Visitacion Valley, which is 60 percent Asian and many of them speak limited English?"
Even though the candidates stressed race, once the nearly 35 audience members -- most of whom were students in the class -- had the chance to ask questions, jobs, the economy, crime and education took center stage.
"Everybody says there are all these problems in District 10, which there are," Moss said. "But behind every single problem, there is a fantastic solution."
Yet, Tony Kelly, a resident of Potrero Hill since 1994 and the founder of the Thick Description Theater Company, wants the city to dedicate a larger portion of the budget to District 10.
"I think city hall doesn't care about District 10," candidate Tony Kelly said. "We need to make the right choice about a supervisor to change that."
Other than Jackson, Tran, Moss and Kelly, the other present candidates for the District 10 seat were Kristine Enea, Dewitt Lacy, Eric Smith and Lynette Sweet.
"The best candidate does not necessarily have to look just like you," Sweet said. "You want leadership, you want representation, you want people that will get things done. We all bring something to the table that's quite unique."
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