Good News: Less Campaign Mail!

San Francisco voters were absolutely buried in campaign mail in November 2011.  It was out of control. And annoying. Even to me! And I love this stuff.

The reasons were many. There were three highly contested races on the ballot (Mayor, Sheriff, District Attorney), each for a citywide office, and with well-funded candidates in each.  Most of those candidates did not have citywide name recognition, and so their consultants told them they needed to reach the voters at least three times before voters would remember them.  So those candidates tried to out-mail each other to get your attention. This is why you got multiple mail pieces for the same candidate, often in a single day. I know! What an outrageous waste of paper.

I had friends who told me they weren’t going to vote because they were so irritated with all the mail. Ugh.  Not good.

But guess what? I’ve got great news. You are not likely to get anywhere NEAR the amount of mail for the upcoming June election.  I can guarantee it.

Mail costs money.  The only contested candidate races  in June are for the Democratic County Central Committee, and DCCC campaigns don’t have anywhere NEAR the level of funding as the campaigns did in November.  A viable DCCC candidate will raise and spend $15,000, whereas a viable Mayoral candidate raised and spent at least $400,000 (!!) in 2011. Yeh. Big difference. And that doesn’t even include the millions of dollars in independent expenditures spent on the November election – separate from the campaigns themselves. You won’t see a lot of independent expenditures in the June election. If any.

There are a couple of ballot measures that will be trying to grab your attention, and you will probably get mail from them. The campaign to defeat Proposition A will be well funded, because it threatens the livelihoods of hundreds of garbage and recycling workers in the City, and Labor is on their side, as well as most, if not all, elected officials in town. There are a few statewide ballot measures that could put together well-funded campaigns, but that has yet to be seen.

So all in all, it promises to be a sleepy election, mail-wise.

Does that make you less annoyed with the campaigns? And maybe even more likely to vote? I hope so.

Why Do Endorsements Matter?

This week I am celebrating receiving the endorsements of the Irish American Democratic Club, United Educators of San Francisco, the Potrero Hill Democratic Club, and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021. I’m honored to have each of these endorsements, and I’m proud that this is such a diverse group of organizations!

But how do these endorsements happen, and why do they matter? Here’s a brief glimpse into what it’s like to run for office.

There are a myriad of political organizations in San Francisco, based on the members’ ethnic backgrounds, union affiliations, Supervisorial District, passions about issues, neighborhoods, age, gender, immigrant status, you name it. Each club asks the candidates to complete a questionnaire and come in to meet the members for an endorsement interview. Sometimes we get 10 minutes, sometimes we get 2. Sometimes we are grilled with tough questions, sometimes we are shooed off stage with polite applause. Sometimes the club seems really interested in what you have to say… and sometimes they made their decision before you even walked in the door. And not in a good way.

By the end of this week, I will have completed 15 endorsement questionnaires of varying length and intensity. Each of them requires a little bit of research, some careful consideration, and a lot of writing. It’s exhausting.

And important. This is where candidates get vetted by the true blue activists, the community leaders, the volunteers, the people who work tirelessly behind the scenes in San Francisco politics. These are the “super voters” – the ones who share a passion for politics, whose friends and family look to for guidance about voting, especially in down-ticket races like judgeships or DCCC. They also donate to campaigns and volunteer their time if they get excited about a candidate.

And some of these clubs send out slate mailers to voters who share their interests, thus expanding the club’s influence over the outcome of the election.  Many voters read these slate mailers (and nothing else) before they vote. This is particularly true in a race like DCCC, where there are dozens of candidates, and only a few with any significant name recognition. So the more slate mailers a candidate appears on, the more likely it is that he or she will win.

We candidates like to complain to each other about the daunting task of completing all of the questionnaires on time and making it to the interviews… which all seem to be scheduled at overlapping times at opposite sides of the city. But we all know that this is how the voters figure out where we stand on the broad range of issues affecting San Francisco. This is the stuff that Democracy is made of.

Did you answer the questions thoughtfully? Did you hold up under the scrutiny? Do you have what it takes to get elected? Will you fight for certain causes once in office? These are the things the endorsing organizations want to know. And in a race like DCCC, especially in an election where the turnout is expected to be very low, endorsements can make all the difference.

Elect Women 2012

When I first ran for the DCCC two years ago, I promised to enlist the Democratic Party in recruiting more women to run for office. Having served as President of the National Women’s Political Caucus (SF chapter), having graduated from the Emerge Program, having volunteered for countless campaigns, and having run for office myself a few times, I am uniquely qualified to do this work. I supported a few great women candidates in 2010 and 2011, but I was disappointed at how few women were willing to throw their hats in the ring.

The numbers are surprising. Women comprise only:

– 4 of 11 members of the Board of Supervisors

– None of the citywide executive officers (Mayor, City Attorney, etc.)

– 7 of the incumbents running for re-election on the SF Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC), out of 24 seats

I am going to work hard until we achieve something that resembles parity on the party’s governing board. The DCCC often serves as a proving ground for new candidates, and it’s a great way to get your start in San Francisco politics.

But why do so few women run? What I hear is that politics – particularly in San Francisco – is too nasty, too personal. That the scrutiny is too intense while you’re also holding down a job and holding together a household.

And so this election cycle, I have gathered the women candidates for DCCC into a slate of our own. We call it “Elect Women 2012,” and it includes all 18 of the women candidates, featuring a broad diversity in age, race, sexual orientation, experience and ideology.  It includes a former State Senator, one current and two former members of the Board of Supervisors, a School Board member, four elected incumbents, three appointed incumbents, and many other women from a broad range of backgrounds. The idea is that we will support each other through the experience, particularly the women who have never run before. We view each other as colleagues, not as competition. We are out to show that we can disagree without being disagreeable.

And the hope is that San Francisco politics will become less toxic when more of us are elected.

Our slate was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday, and we expect even more ink to come! Stay tuned.

Art & Politics: April 6!

Friends!

The extraordinary Marco Cochrane will be sculpting me (yes, ME!) at an event on April 6.  The event is a joint fundraiser for my campaign and for Marco’s next  monumental sculpture called Truth Is Beauty.

The event is going to be  truly a unique experience, featuring a fascinating mix of artists, politicians, performers, and YOU. I can’t WAIT to see what unfolds.

Art & Politics: A Fundraiser for Truth is Beauty and Alix Rosenthal
Friday, April 6, 7pm-12am
Project One
251 Rhode Island Street, San Francisco

Facebook invite here: https://www.facebook.com/events/324292140951586/

Go here to purchase advance tickets: http://artandpolitics.eventbrite.com/

The night will feature live sculpting by Marco Cochrane of model Alix Rosenthal. And booty shaking courtesy of:

Zach Moore (Space Cowboys)
Tamo (Space Cowboys)
JoeJoe (Brass Tax & Bliss Dance Crew)
Ding Dong (Brass Tax)

Buy tickets here: http://artandpolitics.eventbrite.com/

For more info on Marco and his sculptures:
visit: http://www.blissdance.us/

Please come!

Thank You, Milk Club and Assembly Member Tom Ammiano!

Today I am honored to be endorsed by the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club and Assembly Member Tom Ammiano.

The Milk Club is one of the biggest and most important democratic clubs in town, named after civil rights leader Harvey Milk, who became the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1978.  This was the first democratic club I joined when I became involved in politics in San Francisco, and I consider it one of my political home bases.  I am grateful to the club membership for voting to endorse me last night.

Assembly Member Tom Ammiano (A.D. 13) 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.

Why Your Vote Will Count Even More in June

The upcoming election on June 5 *might just be*
the lowest turnout election in San Francisco history. Why?

Because the only things on the San Francisco ballot are a few sure things, a small number of ballot measures, and the Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC).

The sure things include the Democratic Party nominations of President Obama, once-and-future Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Assembly member Tom Ammiano (Go Tom!), and many other uncontested races. (Yawn)

The two San Francisco measures probably won’t energize voters. One could change the way the City’s waste management contract is awarded, and one is a policy statement regarding the funding of Coit Tower. Uh huh. We’re not talking about marriage equality or the right to choose, which are the kind of issues that get San Franciscans all riled up.

There are 6 statewide ballot measures, some of which seem really interesting to government nerds like me, such as Governor Brown’s tax measure (good), a measure that fiddles with term limits (good), and the so-called “Paycheck Protection Act,” which is a direct attack on public employee unions (very, very bad). I am hoping that these measures draw people out to vote, but I am not optimistic.

So this is where you come in.  The turnout is going to be so low, that a handful of votes can actually determine the outcome of this election! It means that your vote will actually mean a whole lot to those of us who are running campaigns. How exciting for you!

I hope to see you at the polls.

p.s. Not sure if you’re registered? Check here. Want to re-register as a Democrat so you can vote for me? Go here. Thank you!

SF Democratic Party to Consider Citizens United Resolution

Today is the second anniversary of the historic Citizens United decision by the United States Supreme Court. That decision granted corporations unprecedented influence in democratic elections while permitting them to hide their involvement, thereby threatening the voices of the electorate and the very foundation of democracy.

Members of both houses of Congress have introduced amendments to the United States Constitution that would overturn the decision in Citizens United, and limit corporate influence over federal, state and local elections.  A movement is building. More than 100 Occupy protests took place yesterday in opposition to the decision. Dozens of jurisdictions and party organizations nationwide have begun to call for this appalling decision to be overturned and for the abolition of corporate personhood.

I find it outrageous that corporations have been given First Amendment rights, but not the obligations of a civil society. Until we can draft a corporation into the military, or charge it with murder, it should not be afforded the rights of persons under the constitution.

I have written the following resolution for consideration by the San Francisco Democratic Party, to be considered at its meeting this afternoon:

RESOLUTION OF THE SAN FRANCISCO DEMOCRATIC PARTY DECLARING ITS OPPOSITION TO THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT’S DECISION IN CITIZENS UNITED V. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION AND SUPPORTING A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO OVERTURN CITIZENS UNITED

WHEREAS, free and fair elections are essential to democracy and effective self-governance; and

WHEREAS, in Citizens United v. the Federal Elections Commission, the United States Supreme Court rolled back federal restrictions on corporate spending in the electoral process, allowing unlimited corporate spending to influence elections, candidate selection and policy decisions; and

WHEREAS, the Citizens United decision granted corporations unprecedented influence in democratic elections while permitting them to hide their involvement, thereby threatening the voices of the electorate and the foundation of democracy; and

WHEREAS, the Citizens United decision may supersede state and local efforts to regulate corporate activity in their campaign finance laws; and

WHEREAS, corporations have used the “rights” bestowed upon them by the courts to overturn democratically enacted laws that were passed at municipal, state and federal levels to curb corporate abuse, thereby impairing local governments’ ability to protect their citizens against corporate harms to the environment, to health, to workers, to independent businesses, to local and regional economies; and

WHEREAS, members of both houses of the United States Congress have introduced proposed amendments to the United States Constitution that would overturn the decision in Citizens United, and limit corporate influence over federal, state and local elections; now therefore be it

RESOLVED: that the San Francisco Democratic Party hereby declares its opposition to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. the Federal Elections Commission; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED: that the San Francisco Democratic Party calls on Congress to approve an amendment to the United States Constitution that would overturn the decision in Citizens United, limit corporate influence over federal, state and local elections, and abolish corporate personhood; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED: that the San Francisco Democratic Party calls on other communities and jurisdictions to join in this action by passing similar resolutions.

UPDATE as of 6pm, January 21: The San Francisco Democratic Party approved the resolution at its meeting this afternoon and forwarded it to the state party for its consideration.