Reilly defends progressive, gay backing in D2 supe race
by Matthew S. Bajko
She has the support of the more moderate Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, openly gay state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and gay Supervisor Bevan Dufty. And this week she picked up the endorsement of the Bay Area Reporter.
At the same time she also has won the support of many of the city's progressive leaders, including Democratic Party Chair Aaron Peskin, a former president of the Board of Supervisors, openly gay state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) and openly gay Supervisor David Campos.
Now Janet Reilly, considered a frontrunner in the race for the District 2 supervisor seat this fall, finds herself defending those endorsements as her opponents in the race attempt to paint the Golden Gate Bridge district board member as too liberal to represent the Marina and Pacific Heights at City Hall.
During last week's San Francisco Young Democrats sponsored debate, assistant United States attorney Abraham Simmons suggested that Reilly would be beholden to the "political machine endorsement process" and said that the LGBT political club's and Peskin's endorsements are "not important" to the district's residents.
Attorney Kat Anderson questioned why voters of the city's northwestern neighborhoods should vote for someone who was not endorsed by the current supervisor, Michaela Alioto-Pier, or Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, considered the board's most conservative member. They have both endorsed venture capitalist Mark Farrell in the race.
Reilly, noting Mayor Gavin Newsom and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein have also endorsed her, dismissed the attacks on her supporters, saying her list of endorsements shows she can work with the city's various political factions.
"I think I will represent District 2 very well," said Reilly. "Yes, I have endorsements from Mark Leno and others not quite as moderate. Isn't that what we need? To bring people together instead of being an island among ourselves."
Another swipe at Reilly came in a suggestion from Simmons that a vote for her would really be a vote for her husband, political consultant Clint Reilly. In response, Reilly criticized what she saw as a "sexist" question for inferring somehow she is a puppet candidate.
"Clint Reilly is not on the ballot on November 2, I am," said Reilly, who has been working to open a privately funded health clinic for the working poor in the city's Excelsior District. "I am my own independent person. I am proud of the things I have been doing in this community the last 15 years."
Nor was it merely her opponents putting Reilly in the hot seat at the debate. After she ducked a question about whom she would back as interim mayor next year should Newsom be elected the state's lieutenant governor and have to resign, the audience booed her response.
It prompted several people to submit questions about the matter, with one person asking Reilly to publicly state she would not vote for Peskin or "another
"I can tell it is that time in the campaign, time to start smearing candidates and be nasty. I will not publicly endorse or publicly humiliate anyone or say I am not going to support someone or publicly denounce one individual. That has never been my style and never will be," said Reilly. "I think people admire me for that. I stick to the issues."
Reilly added that San Francisco faces myriad problems because "we have this constant attitude of us versus them. I can tell you it gets us nowhere."
In terms of issues in the race, the main topics of concern have been the health of the district's two business corridors on Union and Chestnut streets; a plan to open supportive housing for foster care youth on Lombard Street; and the development of both the Presidio and a mega hospital project on Cathedral Hill.
All four of the candidates who took part in last week's debate pledged to trim the city's budget by reducing the number of people employed by the city, cutting pension costs, and assisting small business owners.
Small businesses, said Farrell, "in District 2 and San Francisco are the bread and butter of our neighborhoods. They employ most of us as San Franciscans."
Farrell suggested cutting the payroll tax, reducing red tape, and streamlining the permit process at City Hall as ways to grow and support the local business community.
"We need to do everything on the board to help them," said Farrell, who also supports seeing some supervisors being elected citywide with others from districts.
Anderson said she believes the city can no longer afford the roughly 30,000 people it employs. She specifically targeted the Department of Public Works as one agency where she would look to reduce staff.
"We grew our budget when times were flush and now times are lean. We have to reduce the budget. To do that we have to cut our payroll," said Anderson.
In addition to cuts in staffing, Reilly argued the city should reduce the number of departments and encourage nonprofits receiving city funds to merge or consolidate.
"We need to put some of those advocacy departments under one roof," she said without singling out specific agencies.
Instead of looking for ways to increase revenues, the city first needs to cut its expenses, said Simmons.
"We have too many middle managers we are trying to keep busy. We need to reduce the number of people we are employing," he said.