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Online Extra: Political Notes: LGBT Asian group endorses Leno, Mandelman

by Matthew S. Bajko

The Gay Asian Pacific Alliance has endorsed Rafael Mandelman, left, for District 8 supervisor, and Mark Leno for mayor. Photo: Courtesy Leno for Mayor campaign
The Gay Asian Pacific Alliance has endorsed Rafael Mandelman, left, for District 8 supervisor, and Mark Leno for mayor. Photo: Courtesy Leno for Mayor campaign  

An LGBT Asian group has endorsed gay San Francisco candidates Mark Leno for mayor and Rafael Mandelman for District 8 supervisor in the special elections on the June 5 primary ballot.

The political action committee for GAPA, the Gay Asian Pacific Alliance, sent questionnaires to the candidates in both races and then recommended the sole endorsements for Leno and Mandelman. GAPA's board voted to approve the decisions and announced the endorsements earlier this month.

In addition to Leno, GAPA also considered endorsing District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim, former supervisor and civil rights attorney Angela Alioto, and queer nonbinary affordable housing advocate Amy Farah Weiss. It said it did not receive questionnaires from the other candidates, including Board of Supervisors President London Breed, and therefore, they were not eligible to be endorsed.

In explaining its decision to back Leno in the race, GAPA pointed to his legislative achievements for LGBT rights at both City Hall and in the state Legislature. It also said it felt Leno would be a strong voice against the anti-LGBT policies and positions of the Trump administration.

"We feel that Mark is therefore better situated to understand our needs and concerns, especially with respect to hate violence toward LGBTQ Asian and Pacific Islanders, media representation and visibility, and immigration. Further, he has a solid plan to combat the housing crisis facing our city," stated GAPA.

The nonprofit social welfare organization, which is marking its 30th anniversary this year, did praise the three other candidates it heard from in the race. The special election was scheduled after the sudden death December 12 of the late mayor Ed Lee, who had received strong support from GAPA in his mayoral bids.

Whoever wins the June 5 election will serve out the remainder of Lee's term through January 2020. They will need to run in 2019 for a full four-year term as mayor.

GAPA commended Alioto for her "achievements as a civil rights lawyer. Her skills and experience will be needed as our community defends its values against the Trump administration."

It praised Kim for supporting the creation of the Compton's TLGB District, which will be the nation's first cultural district focused on the transgender community. It will be centered in an area of the city's Tenderloin neighborhood.

"Her work on the Board of Supervisors, especially with respect to tenants' rights, shows passion and leadership," GAPA said of Kim.

The group said that Weiss' "strong performance" at the mayoral forum co-hosted by the Bay Area Reporter, Horizons Foundation, and KQED at the Castro Theatre, which she initially was not invited to but showed up anyway and muscled her way on stage, "garnered our respect. We look forward to seeing what results she can produce for our community."

District 8 supervisor race
In the supervisor's race Mandelman is challenging gay District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy for his seat. Lee had appointed Sheehy, the first known person living with HIV to serve on the board, last year to fill the vacancy created by Scott Wiener's election to the state Senate.

The winner of the June election will serve out the remainder of Wiener's term through early next January. Sheehy and Mandelman have also pulled papers to run in November for a full four-year term as the City Hall representative for the city's gay Castro district, as well as Noe Valley, Diamond Heights, and Glen Park neighborhoods.

After hearing from both candidates, GAPA decided to "firmly endorse" Mandelman. It noted that when he served as board chair for the LGBT Community Center, Mandelman played a "crucial" role in helping the San Francisco Community Health Center, formerly known as the API Wellness Center, open a health clinic in the upper Market Street building.

"Rafael is a champion of GAPA and of finding more LGBTQ Asian and Pacific Islanders to run for and win elected office," stated the group, adding that it trusts "Rafael to be a strong, active, and vocal ally of GAPA at City Hall. We need a leader like him to fight for our community."

GAPA did note "the amazing work" Sheehy "has done for the San Francisco community. His dedication and advocacy for folks living with HIV should be commended and celebrated."

Mandelman's securing the GAPA endorsement means he is the first District 8 supervisor candidate to garner the sole support of the city's three LGBT groups that make political endorsements. He also secured sole endorsements from both the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club and the more progressive Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBT political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/politicalnotes .
Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail m.bajko@ebar.com.

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