Political Notebook: Mandelman kicks off D8 supe campaign
by Matthew S. Bajko
Flanked by Supervisors Eric Mar and John Avalos , attorney Rafael Mandelman this week kicked off his bid to replace District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who will be termed out of office in 2010. The progressive freshmen on the board joined with the openly gay Mandelman, an attorney at the McDonough Holland & Allen law firm in Oakland, at his event in the Castro Monday, June 15 to launch his campaign for public office.
"He has the ability to bring the diverse groups in District 8 together," said Mar, who has served alongside Mandelman on the Democratic County Central Committee. "He is just a joy to be around. Even though he is an attorney, he has a heart."
Plus, Mar told the crowd, his daughter thinks Mandelman "has a great face and loves to touch his bald head."
Avalos said he came to know Mandelman, who is president of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, during the club's contentious endorsement battle in the state Senate race between the incumbent Carole Migden and her challenger, then-Assemblyman Mark Leno. The club's vote in the race devolved into a contentious shouting match between supporters of the two out candidates, with Migden securing the endorsement only after Mandelman took over the October 2007 meeting.
[The following year Mandelman became president of the club. Leno went on to defeat Migden in the Democratic primary last June and easily won the seat in the November general election.]
"I was impressed by his poise and commitment to supporting the right candidate in that election," said Avalos.
Pointing to District 8's past support of more moderate candidates for supervisor, Avalos acknowledged Mandelman has his work cut out for him in convincing voters in the Castro, Noe Valley, Diamond Heights, and Glen Pak to back him. But he said his own experience running for the board last year proves it is doable.
"My district, District 11, is not the most progressive in the world. But it is possible to build a grassroots effort and win," said Avalos, who represents Ocean View and Ingleside in the city's southeastern section. "I know it will be a challenge for Rafael, but I know we can do it."
Also endorsing Mandelman, but absent among the 100 or so people packed into Blush wine bar for the evening event, was Supervisor Chris Daly, the board's most far-left member. Openly gay former Supervisor Harry Britt, who represented the Castro on the board under a differently configured seat, not only showed up to praise Mandelman Monday night but also accompanied him to City Hall last week when he filed the paperwork to declare his candidacy.
"He is clearly one of the brightest, youngest leaders our community has produced in a long time," said Britt, who was appointed to replace the late gay Supervisor Harvey Milk after his assassination in 1978. "It's going to be tough but this guy is amazingly intelligent. Not just because he went to all Ivy League schools but he has a great sense of what needs to be done."
Mandelman, 35, is the first person to officially enter the race. He decided to begin campaigning nearly a year and a half prior to the election in order to raise the money he needs to run a competitive campaign. He will likely face three out contenders for the seat: assistant district attorney Rebecca Prozan; deputy city attorney Scott Wiener; and Laura Spanjian , a staffer with the city's Public Utilities Commission.
Dufty, a moderate on the board, has indicated he will likely not endorse in the race, as he has ties to all four candidates. He was a no-show for Mandelman's kickoff.
Mandelman, who sits on the city's Board of Appeals, said he believes a progressive agenda that backs the middle class, small business owners, and is pro-union will resonate with District 8 residents.
"I believe the majority of people in this district believe in those things and are Mandelman voters," he said. "I am super excited. We are going to win."
Patrick Cosson said he signed on to support Mandelman's bid after meeting him the night of the Milk march last fall.
"He has the brains and the education. He went to Yale, Harvard, and Berkeley," said Cosson. "He has the heart to make sure people's needs are being taken care of. Plus, I think he can win."
Maggi Rubenstein, a longtime bisexual activist and Milk Club member, said that of the four candidates expected to enter the race, Mandelman is "truly progressive." A resident of Glen Park, she said she advised him "to remember District 8 is not just the Castro."
Lawmakers reject AIDS cuts
The Legislature's Budget Conference Committee voted late Monday to reject Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed cut of $80.1 million to the state's AIDS programs. Instead, the lawmakers voted to reduce the state Office of AIDS' funding by $8 million and fully fund the AIDS Drug Assistance Program.
"We were able to keep the program intact," said Leno, who sits on the committee. "The Office of AIDS budget will be seeing a 10 percent reduction proportional, if not lower, to some of the other cuts programs are experiencing."
Under the plan, the state would use reserve funds from a rebate program for ADAP to ensure the drug formulary would not be reduced and people living with HIV and AIDS would not face paying higher premiums to access their life-saving medications.
Funding for HIV education and prevention would be cut by $2.2 million, while the budget for surveillance and epidemiology would be cut by $1 million, under the plan. Also, 36 staff positions would be eliminated and various other programs, from housing (a cut of $101,000) to home-based care (a cut of $538,000), and therapeutic monitoring (a cut of $714,000) would see their budgets reduced.
AIDS advocates said they were mostly pleased by the committee's proposal. It now must be approved by the full Legislature before being sent back to the governor, who can veto specific funding in the final budget bill.
Web Extra: For more queer political news, be sure to check http://www.ebar.com Monday mornings around 10 a.m. for Political Notes, the notebook's online companion. This week's column reported on the efforts by gay Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) to block the AIDS cuts.
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Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 861-5019 or e-mail mailto:email@example.com.