Many people don’t see a lot of reason to care about tomorrow’s assembly race, when two San Francisco supervisors named David will fight electoral battle to fill Tom Ammiano’s seat in Sacramento. It’s a race defined by similarities that make easy punchlines—both David Chiu and David Campos are Harvard Law graduates, both are 44-years-old, and both are liberal Democrats. SFist claims “it will likely make no difference whatsoever” who wins the race. Willie Brown joked “the only distinction I can see between the two of them is that Campos is a straight-up communist, while Chiu is a situational communist.”
Maybe the apathy is because no one is talking about the race’s most important local consequence: what will happen to the Board of Supervisors after Tuesday.
According to the city’s Charter, the Mayor is tasked with appointing a person to any vacant seat on the Board of Supervisors. That means regardless of which candidate wins, Ed Lee will be appointing someone to the board in the coming months.
Fellow Supervisor John Avalos attempted to change this rule, spearheading a Charter Amendment dubbed the “Let’s Elect Our Elected Officials Act.” But it died in City Hall, and the Mayor currently retains the appointment power.
Before we go any further, let’s be clear: had Avalos successfully changed this rule, creating special elections to empowering citizens to fill vacant supervisor seats, our take on this election would much, much different. While this blog has never been a huge fan of either politician running, we would be voting Campos. In the last year, Campos has put forward multiple measures to address housing affordability, evictions, and the city’s escalating cost of living. Meanwhile, David Chiu authored a bill that rezones the city for the benefit of Airbnb under very sketchy circumstances.
But District 9, which David Campos currently serves on the Board of Supervisors, is the most progressive district in San Francisco. Representing the Mission, Bernal Heights, and Portola, District 9 is the epicenter of our eviction and gentrification crisis. It’s where our city’s protests are happening, where we’re fighting back against the corporate takeover of our neighborhoods, and the heart and soul of our city’s progressive politics.
If we elect David Campos to the California State Assembly, we surrender District 9 to the whims of an Ed Lee appointee.
Suddenly, it will become a lot harder to pass progressive legislation in San Francisco. Not just because we’ve lost Campos, but because we will have effectively flipped District 9 into becoming a more conservative district. Avalos will be the last “true progressive” on the board, forcing him to form ad hoc coalitions on his own with progressive-leaning politicians like Jane Kim and London Breed. And whoever will be appointed to District 9 will certainly be a lackey for Mayor—a man who sabotaged Jane Kim’s proposed affordable housing ballot measure and routinely sells-out the city on behalf of his billionaire buddies.
What’s worse? The mayor’s appointee will have the power of incumbency going into the next supervisor’s election in 2016. While we appreciate the power of the District’s (thinning) progressive power base, incumbents are able to raise a grip of money and rarely face credible challengers (Campos himself ran for reelection practically unopposed). Once the mayor appoints someone, it’ll be incredibly difficult to unseat them. Tuesday has the potential to impact our neighborhood’s City Hall representation for ten years.
It basically comes down to this: would you rather see the 80 member California Assembly retain a progressive seat, or would you rather your local community remain in progressive control?
We wish it wasn’t this way. We wish we didn’t have to look at this race with a cynical eye towards its local impacts. But keeping the Mission progressive is just too important.
(Or vote for David Campos. Having an Ed Lee flunky in the Mission to take down will be hella good for pageviews.)
[New Mission photo: Jonathan Percy]