San Francisco Voter Guide – June 2012

OMG, there’s an election on June 5.  And nobody knows about it, because it’s a short ballot with relatively boring things on it. The press is barely covering it… except for the controversy surrounding a certain slate of women candidates for the DCCC. Ahem.  But pay attention! This ballot is very important because, well, I’m on it.*  ; )

I am running for re-election to the governing board of the San Francisco Democratic Party (DCCC), and so I am paying very close attention to the measures and races on the June ballot.  Every election, I research and grumble, debate and ponder, and compile all the arguments in one place for your enjoyment and edification.

And your ballot is going to look VERY DIFFERENT this time around. No matter what party you are registered with, all of the candidates (in every party, or no party) for U.S. Senate, U.S. Representative, State Senate and State Assembly will appear. This is the new “open” primary system that voters approved in June 2010. The two candidates who receive the most votes for each contest – regardless of party – will move on to the general election in November.   But only registered Democrats can vote for the DCCC (for which I am running). Confusing? Yes. I know.

In this election, I have assembled a slate of all of the female candidates for the DCCC. It includes women of all political stripes, ages, sexual orientations, neighborhoods, ethnic backgrounds, and levels of experience. It is very important to me that we get more women elected to public office, and I have worked hard to mentor many of the first-time candidates in this election. And yet not all of these women appear in this Voter Guide, because my personal endorsement is separate from my mentoring efforts.

I am also on the Community First slate of candidates, representing the most progressive candidates for the DCCC. I am more aligned with these folks politically than many of the folks on the women’s slate. And yet, not all of the Community First candidates appear below, either.  My endorsements for the DCCC were tough calls to make, because I am very close to many of the people running for office this June, and there are also a lot of high quality newcomers!

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a lawyer, a longtime Burner, and a San Francisco progressive, whose passions include protecting and promoting San Francisco’s nightlife and culture, getting more women elected to public office, and bringing more public art to cities around the world.  I also like long walks on the beach.

*I’m on your ballot if you are a registered Democrat on the east side of San Francisco (Assembly District 17).  Go here to figure out whether you are a registered Democrat and what your ballot looks like.


President: Barack Obama

Yeah, he’s been awful to medical marijuana interests, particularly here in California. He hasn’t fixed the miserable economy. But I think history will remember him as one of the best presidents we’ve ever had.  I am happy to support him again because he is pro-choice, pro-woman, (newly) pro-gay marriage, pro-stem cell research, pro-middle class, pro-tax (sorta not really).  And I look forward to working hard on his campaign against the out-of-touch, misogynistic, bullying, dog-torturing, anti-tax, pro-war one-percenter running against him.  OK, that’s a whole lot of hyperbole. But you hear what I’m saying.

US Senator: Dianne Feinstein

Dianne is more conservative than I’d like her to be. But she’s done a decent job in the U.S. Senate, and she’s virtually unopposed.

Congressional District 12: Nancy Pelosi

First female Speaker of the House.  She is a fighter and a grandmother. I am proud that she comes from my district.  Also effectively unopposed.

Congressional District 14: Jackie Speier

Jackie is a hero of mine, she’s fearless. She has stood for banking reform, women’s health, and government accountability. Watch this little nugget my friend Laura found:

Jackie rocks.


Senator: Mark Leno

Mark is a tireless advocate for his district, and in particular for the LGBT community, single-payer health care, drug policy reform, same-sex marriage, and for nightlife interests. He has no real opposition. I am proud to have Mark’s endorsement in my race for DCCC. Also virtually unopposed.

Assembly, Dist. 17: Tom Ammiano

Tom is a hero of mine, a public servant for over three decades, a friend of Harvey Milk’s, and a champion of civil rights, public education, health care and marijuana policy reform.  His legislative accomplishments are too many to list here! I am proud to count him as an endorser of mine, and to support him. He has no opposition.

Assembly, Dist. 19: Phil Ting

Phil is a great Assessor, and has stood up to powerful interests in that capacity. His big issue is tax reform, and he’s stuck his neck out on reforming Prop. 13, which has enabled owners of commercial property to avoid paying their share of the state’s tax burden. He also might be the nicest person in San Francisco politics, and a genuine, hard working guy. Phil’s opponent Michael Breyer hasn’t had much community support, because he hasn’t shown much interest in politics until he decided to run. Breyer has written himself huge 6-figure checks to make up for it. (Meg Whitman, anyone?) C’mon, let’s make sure Phil beats this guy.

Prop 28 – Changes to Legislative Term Limits – YES

This measure would reduce the total amount of time a person may serve in the state legislature from 14 years to 12 years, but allows them to serve a total of 12 years either in the Assembly, the Senate, or a combination of both.  I don’t love this one. Honestly, I wish they would double the term limits or eliminate them altogether. The existing (ridiculously short) term limits have turned legislators into worthless self-promoters. By the time they develop enough experience to know what they are doing, they are termed out. Rather than focusing on legislating, they are more concerned about what their next job will be.  This means the foxes (i.e., lobbyists and staff) are running the henhouse. Seriously, the only institutional memory in Sacramento is in the special interests. It’s really really bad. But hey, this ballot measure is a baby step in the right direction.

Prop 29 – Cigarette Tax – YES

A measure that adds $1 to a pack of smokes in order to discourage smoking and fund research on cancer and other tobacco-related illnesses? What’s not to love?


Measure A: Garbage Collection & Disposal – NO, NO, NO!

The idea is this: Recology has a monopoly on the city’s waste removal and recycling operations. Why not split this contract into five pieces and put it out to bid? Isn’t that good for accountability and transparency? If Recology is the best company, they’ll win, anyway, right? Not so fast.

Recology is an SF-based, worker-owned company that has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in a state-of-the-art recycling facility here in the City. When dignitaries from other countries come visit San Francisco, this facility is on their short list of places they want to see. No joke. Recology has enabled San Francisco to meet or beat its own recycling goals, and this is because of their investment in this top-notch facility. Rates charged to consumers are subject to the oversight of a public body (unlike PG&E, ahem), and so we are sure that they aren’t overcharging us for their service…. So there is plenty of accountability and transparency. And finally, they have robust hiring programs in some of the most underserved neighborhoods in the city – badly-needed jobs in the Bayview could go away if Prop A wins. Everyone in town is against this measure, and for good reason.  Please vote no.

Measure B: Coit Tower Policy – YES?

The beautiful Depression-era frescoes of Coit Tower are deteriorating because they have been stuck in some kind of bureaucratic quagmire between two agencies. This measure would make it City policy to make the upkeep of these frescoes the first priority of all revenues derived from Coit Tower visitors.

I generally don’t like set-asides.  And also – not all Rec & Park Department facilities are revenue-generating, and so the City should have the freedom to move its money around to subsidize other parks and programs that don’t charge visitors. But this measure is merely a (unenforceable) policy statement that draws attention to this important historic resource. So I say vote yes.

DCCC East side (AD 17): 14 seats
They are listed in the order that they appear on the ballot.
*asterisks indicate an incumbent

John Avalos* – John is a Supervisor representing District 11, and a recent Mayoral candidate. He was my number 2 choice for Mayor, he’s a smart, effective leader of the progressive movement and I’m proud to have him as a colleague on the DCCC.

Zoe Dunning – Zoe made a name for herself as the only out lesbian in the military for many years, and helped lead the fight to repeal the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. She’s endorsed by folks across the political spectrum. Keep an eye on this one, she’s going places.

Matt Dorsey* – Matt is a spokesperson for City Attorney Dennis Herrera during the day, and an appointed incumbent on the DCCC.  He is a genuine, smart guy – a straight shooter. This is a rarity in local politics. Matt’s got a bright future, and I enjoy serving with him. He also wins the prize for getting the highest number of endorsements across town. Everybody loves Matt!

Petra DeJesus* – Petra is a thoughtful leader on the San Francisco Police Commission, former president of the La Raza Lawyers Association, and a recently-appointed incumbent on the DCCC.  She is one of the reasons why I put together the women’s slate – and she’s got a great shot at winning.

Scott Wiener*– Scott and I disagree on many local issues, but we’ve bonded over nightlife advocacy. Did you hear about the Controller’s report stating that the nightlife economy directly contributes $4.2 billion to the overall SF economy? That was Scott’s doing.

Alix Amelia Rosenthal* – ME! I support me. And I hope you will too. For more about my campaign and why I’m running, go here. I’d be honored to have your vote. And remember… I do it so that you don’t have to. ; )

Leslie Rachel Katz* – A former chair of the party, Leslie has been on the DCCC forever. She refuses to be pigeonholed politically, and I respect that. Now more than ever, the board needs her solid leadership and sense of history.

Rafael Mandelman* – Rafi is a friend and a longtime progressive stalwart on the DCCC. He has a deep understanding of the issues and candidates that come before the Democratic Party for our endorsement.  I consider him an invaluable leader of the party.

Carole Migden* – The former State Senator has served one term with me on the DCCC, and she’s been extremely helpful with the women’s slate of candidates. She is a mentor of mine, and she deserves re-election.

Maria Marily Mondejar – Marily is a firebrand! She has more energy than most people I know in politics, and she’s a leader in the Filipino community here in SF. Her voice will be a welcome addition to the DCCC.

David Campos* – I have mad respect for Supervisor Campos. In his last few years on the DCCC, he’s helped maintain our progressive conscience. He’s also running for re-election for Supervisor this fall, and I look forward to helping him win.

Malia Cohen – Supervisor Cohen and I have fought in the women’s political trenches together for almost a decade. Even though we disagree on some local issues, she is dedicated to working with me to recruit and mentor women who want to run for office.

David Chiu* – Chiu was my first choice for Mayor last year. He is a smart, effective leader for San Francisco. He is running for re-election for Supervisor this fall, and I look forward to helping him get the Democratic Party endorsement in that race.

Leah Pimentel* – Leah is a board member of the San Francisco Women’s Political Committee, and was born and raised in Bayview Hunter’s Point.  As an appointed incumbent on the DCCC, she has taken on the thankless task of chartering the dozens of Democratic Clubs in the City. She has a ton of energy for the party, I’d love to see her elected.

West Side (AD 19): 10 seats

Kat Anderson – Kat is a lawyer, a mother, a journalist, and the candidate who has most surprised me in this election.  She has been extremely helpful with coordinating the women’s slate, and if elected, she will be an important ally in my efforts to recruit more women to run for office.  She, too, refuses to be pigeonholed politically, and I believe she’ll work to maintain her independence if elected. Vote for Kat.

Wendy Aragon – Wendy is a progressive true believer, a community organizer and a fighter. While she may not win this time around, I’d like to see her do well.

Kelly Dwyer – A young mother and a hard worker, Kelly is just the kind of voice I’d like to see on the DCCC. I’d like to see her do well too.

Peter Lauterborn – Peter is an educator and will bring youthful energy to the party. He also has an army of young people helping his campaign, and I look forward to seeing Peter’s army turn toward registering more young folks to vote in November.

Meagan Levitan – I don’t know how she does it all, with a full time career, small children, and making another run for office. Meagan has been helpful with the women’s slate, and I look forward to her return to the DCCC.

Suki Kott – Kudos to Suki for running while very pregnant; she is helping to break the glass ceiling for all of us.  A fellow Emerge graduate, she will also be helpful in recruiting more women to run for office locally.

Hene Kelly* – Supporting pro-labor candidates and issues are Hene’s focus on the DCCC. She didn’t support the women’s slate, because it is more important to her to elect progressive men than it is to elect women of all political stripes. I respect that position, and that’s why I’m endorsing her here despite our disagreement.

Arlo Hale Smith* – Hale knows the bylaws backwards and forwards, he provides longtime institutional memory to the party, and his presence on the DCCC is important.

Mary Jung* – Mary and I disagree on many (most?) local issues, but we are both dedicated toward making the party a less divisive place. She is also a hard worker and a crackerjack fundraiser, and this skill will be badly needed by the party in the coming years now that Chair Aaron Peskin has retired.

Eric Mar* – Supervisor Mar is a level head on the Board of Supervisors, and his thoughtful demeanor is an important addition to the DCCC.  He is also running for re-election to the Board in the fall, and I plan to help him win. I should also mention that he is a regular Burning Man participant, and nightlife issues are important to him.

Help This Weekend?

My campaign is mobilizing this weekend (and every weekend). Do you have a few hours to spare?

We will be walking around (progressive) neighborhoods and leaving door hangers and slate cards at the addresses of registered Democrats. All kinds of good reasons to join us:

– It’s great exercise!

– You’ll be doing a good deed by educating voters about the election!

– No talking or door-knocking required!

– And I’ll be very very grateful!

Whaddya say? Email me at alixro (at) yahoo if you can make it. Thanks.


Voting Begins NOW

Holy moly, the election is here. Voting begins in San Francisco on Monday, May 7.

In San Francisco, 60% of the electorate votes by absentee, meaning, they get their ballot mailed to them 30 days before Election Day (June 5). And San Franciscans may also vote at City Hall any week day between May 7 and June 5.

I’ll be putting out my Voter Guide very soon with my insights and recommendations, and I hope you’ll hep me spread the word that THERE IS AN ELECTION HAPPENING.  Not many people know about it, because there hasn’t been much controversy. Except, well, regarding a certain slate of female candidates, and a ballot measure threatening the livelihoods of San Francisco waste and recycling workers. (Vote NO on A!)

The key to my campaign will be getting out the vote… convincing the Democrats we know to return their absentee ballots and get to the polls. I’d be grateful for any help you’re willing to provide… get out and vote, forward my voter guide, come with me to walk a precinct! It’s crunch time. Thanks.