Editorial by Willie Ratcliff
In Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech, he said that a Black person in the South “cannot vote” and a Black person in the North “believes he has nothing for which to vote.” In San Francisco this year, we’re blessed with great candidates for mayor: Jeff Adachi, John Avalos and Terry Baum. If we unite behind them in this city that endows the mayor with an amazing amount of power, we’ll make San Francisco the land of opportunity that lives up to its reputation.
Back in the day in Bayview Hunters Point, the motto at election time was Vote 100%! And that’s what folks did. Black people back then were a force to be reckoned with; this year let’s show City Hall we’re the hood that still knows how. We can elect leaders who love us … who will work with us to bring liberty and justice for all to San Francisco.
Black people are involved and excited about this election; I see you out every day on the streets. This year, we’re in it; why not win it!
You can vote before Election Day at the Elections Department on the ground floor of City Hall. Or vote like we do by going to the polls on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Your polling place is on the back of the Voter Pamphlet that every voter should have received in the mail. For information, call the Elections Department at (415) 554-4375 or go to their website at sfelections.org.
Here are my recommendations on candidates and ballot measures and some of my reasons for choosing them.
San Francisco Bay View Voters Guide at a glance – explanations follow
You may take this Voters Guide into the voting booth with you.
Mayor of San Francisco
It takes extraordinary courage nowadays to advocate for Black and Brown and poor folks, and all three of our choices for mayor – Jeff Adachi, John Avalos and Terry Baum – have proved they’re brave enough to love us.
No. 1: Jeff Adachi. For years I’ve been asking Jeff Adachi to run for mayor. Jeff has a passion for justice and so have I. He fights every day for you and me, the San Franciscans the last several mayors have been pushing out of the city. As the best public defender in the country, the creator of Clean Slate to give folks a second chance, and the founder of BMAGIC and Mo’MAGIC that light up our little ones with their own backpacks, books, science fairs and proms, he’s earned our trust and our support.
Jeff Adachi will clean up corruption in City Hall that favors the rich and well connected and totally ignores the poor, the working class, families and small businesses. He’ll make San Francisco live up to its progressive reputation and cast off the “care not cash” mentality that closes the doors of opportunity and creates a permanent underclass that drives everybody down. By pushing pension reform, Jeff is risking his own future to give the poor and disenfranchised a chance to thrive.
No. 2: John Avalos. John’s feet are firmly planted with the people, the 99 percent. He’s proven he cares for all San Franciscans by championing local hire, a municipal bank, free Muni passes for our youngsters and other ways to recommit our city to economic and educational equity and opportunity. A truly great mayor will restore our world class city’s image from a playground for the rich to a place where everyone can thrive and work together. That’s John Avalos!
No. 3: Terry Baum. Terry dares to ask for what we want. Here’s what she says about taxes: “Gross Receipts Tax on Business: This would replace the payroll tax, which penalizes businesses that employ a lot of people, and would be much more fair. Income Tax: There is a greater income disparity in San Francisco than in any city in the state. We have more billionaires per square foot than any city in the country. Rich people should pay for the privilege of living in a city with all economic classes!”
No. 1: David Onek. David is an impressive young man who has worked with youth to keep them in school and out of the criminal justice system. He co-authored the Justice Department’s guide to juvenile justice reform and worked with national leaders to combat racial disparities. He pledges never to seek the death penalty and would limit Three Strikes to violent offenders. He supports restorative justice and promises to make San Francisco safer and fairer. We can help David Onek become an excellent district attorney.
No. 2: Sharmin Bock. Sharmin has 22 years of courtroom experience as a prosecutor. She promises to “keep San Franciscans safe from violent crime, protect civil rights, and implement reforms that break the cycle of incarceration.”
No. 3: Vu Trinh. Vu has been a State Bar Certified Criminal Law Specialist since 1992 and serves on the State Bar’s Criminal Law Advisory Commission. He promises to “adopt a restorative justice approach to victims’ rights that will reduce recidivism (and) cut costs” and to “stand for liberty and freedom.”
No. 1: Ross Mirkarimi. Though we know him as District 5 supervisor, Ross also has law enforcement training and experience. He graduated from the police academy in 1996 as class president and, as an investigator for the district attorney’s office for nine years, he specialized in environmental and economic crimes. On the Board of Supervisors, he chaired the Public Safety Committee, pushed community policing, led an investigation of the crime lab scandal and sponsored the formation of the Safe Communities Reentry Council that helps reintegrate people coming out of prison. Retiring Sheriff Michael Hennessey has endorsed Ross as his successor.
Yes on Proposition A, School Bonds: We don’t like our taxes to be raised, but we must invest in our children’s present and future. Crumbling schools tell our students that they are at the bottom of the priority list. Fix their facilities to show them that we care. School renovation also means construction jobs and contracts; we need to fight for our fair share, so we can provide for all our children’s needs.
Yes on Prop B, Road Repaving and Street Safety Bonds: Smooth streets beat potholes and broken pavement, but it’s hard to support bonds that produce jobs we can’t get. Black San Franciscans still have a high rate of home ownership, so we pay taxes, but we’re locked out of the jobs and contracts that those taxes pay for. With the new local hire law and a good mayor, we can unlock the door to economic equity. Let’s fix our streets.
No on Prop C, City Pension and Health Care Benefits: Prop C is a big business-union compromise that shortchanges the poor to protect the highest paid city employees.
Yes on Prop D, City Pension Benefits: This year, San Francisco taxpayers are funding city employee pensions with $357 million of their hard earned dollars, and the bill is ballooning every year. The lavish pensions police brass retire on are paid by eliminating summer school and other essential programs, imperiling people’s lives and futures. Until City Hall summons the courage to tax the rich, it makes sense to ask city employees who earn over $50,000 a year to contribute a little more to their own retirement. We trust Jeff Adachi’s Prop D to protect both the poor and city pensions.
No on Prop E, Amending or Repealing Legislative Initiatives Ordinances and Declarations of Policy: I am insulted by Supervisor Scott Wiener, cheered on by big business, asking for our consent to let the Board of Supervisors change or repeal ballot measures approved by the people.
No on Prop F, Campaign Consultant Ordinance: We cannot allow elected officials and campaign consultants to exclude the voters from making changes to our election laws.
No on Prop G, Sales Tax: Sales tax is a regressive tax. Low and moderate income people, who spend much of their limited resources for food, would suffer the most. No sales tax increase! Tax the rich!
Yes on Prop H, School District Student Assignment: This proposition is backed by our neighbors who know how lonely and misunderstood our children feel when they attend schools far from home. It is not racist to demand top quality schools in Black and Brown neighborhoods so our children can get the best education close to home and we can look after our own.
Bay View publisher Willie Ratcliff can be reached at (415) 671-0789 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Call him if you’d like to discuss the election.