Guardian Staff Writers

San Francisco needs better candidates


The last time we had a major Democratic primary race for state assembly in San Francisco, you didn’t see a lot of head-shaking. In 2002 you were for Mark Leno or you were for Harry Britt, and either way you had very few doubts. Two strong candidates, two people who were eminently qualified to represent San Francisco in Sacramento, two people who had the credentials to be Democratic party leaders.

But I’ve talked to a lot of people about the June 6, 2006, race to fill the spot of Assemblymember Leland Yee, who is trying to move on to the state senate, and what I’m getting is: Gee, well, yeah. Gotta vote for somebody.

The thing is, Sup. Fiona Ma, the front-running candidate, has been absolutely horrible in office, a terrible vote on everything I care about. Her lukewarm supporters say she’d be a good liberal compared to most of the state legislators, and that may be true, but it’s hardly a ringing endorsement. Her opponent, Janet Reilly, is taking some excellent stands on issues, running hard to the left of Ma but she’s never held any elective office before, and, frankly, not that many people in San Francisco even know who she is. If she didn’t have a lot of money, she wouldn’t be much of a factor in this race.

Then you look slightly southward, at the race for state senate. The candidates: Yee, who has done almost nothing to distinguish himself in the state legislature, and Mike Nevin, a former San Francisco cop and San Mateo County supervisor. I don’t know a single person in the progressive San Francisco world who can get a bit excited about either of them.

San Francisco has got to start doing better.

Leno’s term will be up in two more years. I can think of a lot of great Democratic candidates (Tom Ammiano, Chris Daly, Robert Haaland), but we all ought to be thinking about it, now, the same way we need to be thinking about the next mayor of San Francisco and the next member of Congress. Otherwise we’ll have a lot of Fiona Mas and Bevan Duftys in our future.

Now this: Speaking of politicians who need to get out of the way, Leslie Katz, the chair of the local Democratic County Central Committee, recently pulled an act of world-class political sleaze. She opposes Sup. Chris Daly’s Proposition C, a measure that would force the mayor to serve on the Transbay Terminal board, but the committee wasn’t quite ready to take a stand. So March 22, shortly after noon, she filed an official no-on-Prop.C ballot argument on behalf of the San Francisco Democratic Party.

In other words, she decided on her own to file a legal document to appear in the ballot handbook committing the party to a position it hadn’t taken.

In the end the party did vote later to oppose Prop. C. But Katz sent a clear signal that she had the committee wired and wasn’t even going to wait for the formality of an actual vote. Nasty business. It sends the exact wrong signal about the local party. She ought to resign in disgrace.<\!s><z5><h110>SFBG<h$><z$>