All this year’s candidates are unopposed incumbents, which is lame. It’s a sign of an unhealthy democracy that we don’t even have a choice. Why isn’t anyone running? The citywide races on this ballot have no term limits and no public financing, so we’re stuck with career politicians until they decide to move on. Even if they’re okay at their jobs, that’s problematic.
We aren’t necessarily opposed to Treasurer Jose Cisneros or City Attorney Dennis Herrera. They each have admirable accomplishments on their résumés, but they aren’t the type of pioneering progressive leaders that we’re comfortable endorsing in uncontested elections — and Herrera has a couple ugly marks on his record (gang injunctions and invalidating a people’s referendum on Bayview/Hunters Point development).
We are, however, strongly opposed to the Guardian’s endorsements of Carmen Chu and Katy Tang. Back in the day, they worked together in Mayor Gavin Newsom’s budget office. Then he appointed Chu as District 4 supervisor and Tang became her legislative aide. Then Mayor Ed Lee appointed Chu as Assessor and it was Tang’s turn to be District 4 supervisor.
Are you sensing a trend? If Tang goes on to serve two full terms, the Sunset will go from 2007 until 2022 without a contested election. That’s crazy pants!
Odds are that will also mean 15 years without the District 4 supe ever disagreeing with the mayor. Chu was on the opposite side of virtually every contested vote The League has ever cared about: free Muni for youth, the Sit-Lie law, increasing the hotel tax, Election Day voter registration, and CleanPowerSF.
Tang hasn’t been around long, but she’s already voted against CleanPowerSF and carried the mayor’s water by trying to weaken John Avalos’s Due Process for All ordinance. She attempted to insert exceptions that would’ve made undocumented San Franciscans unsure if they could call the police without risking family members’ deportation. When she used the fearmongering image of the city becoming a “safe haven for criminals,” she was rightfully booed by hundreds of immigration and domestic violence advocates in the audience.
And then there’s the golden rule of politics: Follow the money! Chu and Tang have racked up over $150,000 each. Huge chunks of that money come from developers, property managers, consultants, and others looking to strike it rich with land use deals approved by the new board.
That’s especially troubling for Assessor-Recorder Chu. She’s responsible for assessing property taxes, most of which come from skyscrapers downtown. She should be all up in the business of those corporations: Every time a building changes hands or a company’s ownership changes, the company owes a real estate transfer tax. But Chu is buddy-buddy with the Building Owners and Managers Association, taking piles of cash from the real estate industry. That sucks.
This business of the mayor appointing his buddies who then go on to win uncontested races has got to stop. It’s troubling that the mayor — our executive branch — unilaterally fills out our legislative branch. Hello? Did the folks writing our City Charter ever hear of “checks and balances?”
We think all mayoral appointees should be placeholders, legally prohibited from running in the following election. None of this pledging not to run and then “changing your mind” (we’re looking at you, Ed Lee). That reform would be a proposition we could say yes to — and a welcome change of pace from this November’s ballot.
The San Francisco League of Pissed Off Voters is an all-volunteer local chapter of the National League of Young Voters.