Grassroots campaigns work to counter the influence of big donors

Big money is pouring into a few campaign committees for the fall election, with Big Soda targeting the soda tax, Realtors gunning for the anti-speculation tax, and the Fisher family last week giving $500,000 to promote artificial turf playing fields in SF (Yes on I, No on H), according to campaign filings. But low-budget grassroots campaigns are still having a strong presence at public events like the Sept. 14 Sunday Streets in Western Addition.

San Franciscans Against Real Estate Speculation, Yes on G, had activists out in force even though it has only raised a few thousand dollars. Its biggest contribution so far is $5,000 from attorney Dean Preston of Tenants Together, who was out there spreading the word near Alamo Square Park, along with campaign consultant Quintin Mecke, the runner-up in the 2007 mayor’s race.

One of the more surprising grassroots campaign of the season is No on L, San Franciscans Against Gridlock, which is campaigning against the pro-motorist Restore Transportation Balance initiative, a measure aimed at undermining the city’s transit-first policy and promoting more free parking.

The Yes on L campaign hasn’t shown much sign of life since the summer when it spent nearly $50,000 on its signature-gathering effort out of about $83,000 raised (including $49,000 from tech titan Sean Parker), but it was sitting on nearly $35,000 in the bank as of July 16.

But the No on L crowd is taking this attack on sustainable transportation policies seriously, and it’s hoping to fill its fairly meager coffers ($5,000 from Daniel Murphy on Sept. 6 is its biggest donation) this evening [Tues/16] from 6-8pm with a fundraiser at Public Bikes, 549 Hayes Street.

That event is hosted by a bevy of transportation activists and Sup. Scott Wiener, David Chiu, and Jane Kim. As the campaign says, “If you care about helping to build a better transit system, a more walkable and bicycle-friendly city, and reducing car congestion in San Francisco, the No on Gridlock, No on L campaign needs your support to raise money to educate voters.”