Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

Candidates compete with World Series in D6 race


Theresa Sparks. Photo: Lydia Gonzales
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The District 6 supervisor race was already a wild card, with 14 candidates on the ballot and a number of strong progressives competing against each other, before the San Francisco Giants secured a spot in the World Series.

Now the final week of campaigning for the seat that represents the Tenderloin and South of Market district, home to the Giants' ballpark, has been upended by baseball's ultimate show down. The seven-game series kicked off Wednesday night in San Francisco and game two will be tonight (Thursday, October 28) before heading to Texas this weekend for three games in Arlington.

"I don't know. It is hard to say," said Jim Meko, a gay man running for the District 6 seat, when asked what impact he thought the World Series could have on the race. "Whatever will be, will be."

Out lesbian artist Debra Walker is trying to turn District 6 residents' attention on the World Series to her advantage. On her Facebook account she posted a picture of a baseball with her initials DW and D6 on it under a banner reading "Let's Go Giants!"

Her campaign plans to hold pub crawls throughout the district the night of the ball games in order to reach voters and tap into the pride surrounding the hometown team's success.

Should the series stretch beyond five games, it could provide welcome relief to the candidates as the final outcome of the race is expected to remain unknown on Election Night next Tuesday, November 2. Due to the city's ranked-choice voting system, it could be several days, if not longer, before a clear winner emerges.

"I could not even tell you what is going to happen," said Meko. "With 14 candidates running in this district, I don't think anyone has a good handle of what the real outcome is going to be."

Voters in the district could make history in the race on several fronts. Walker would be the first out lesbian to be sent to City Hall since the city switched to district elections in 2000. She has the backing of the local Democratic Party, the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, gay leaders Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) and Supervisor David Campos, as well as state Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco).

Theresa Sparks, the executive director of the city's Human Rights Commission, would be the city's first transgender supervisor if she wins the race. Considered one of the more conservative candidates, Sparks is backed by the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club; Mayor Gavin Newsom; gay leaders state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Supervisor Bevan Dufty, as well as Supervisors Sean Elsbernd and Michela Alioto-Pier.

She has found her campaign bumping up against the World Series this week. In an e-mail plugging a fundraiser Wednesday night at Polk Street transgender nightclub Diva's, she made sure to note that Giants fans would be able to watch the game.

"P.S. The World Series tonight throughout Diva's so come out, support the Sparks for 6 campaign as we cheer the Giants on to victory over the Rangers!!," stated the e-ma

Debra Walker. Photo: Lydia Gonzales
il sent out to her supporters Wednesday afternoon.

James Keys, who chairs the city's mental health board, would be the first openly HIV-positive person to serve on the board as well as be the city's first gay African American supervisor should voters elect to send him to City Hall. He secured the endorsement of District 6 Supervisor Chris Daly, who is termed out of office, as well as Supervisor John Avalos, who has also endorsed Walker and Jane Kim, president of the city's school board.

Keys has complained about how the media has covered his campaign, and his backers accused the San Francisco Bay Guardian of being racist for not picking him or any other person of color as its top pick in the even-numbered supervisor races on this year's ballot.

"I don't want you writing about my campaign," Keys told the Bay Area Reporter this week. "The media has been treating me very rude."

Jim Meko. Photo: Lydia Gonzales

Kim would be the first Korean American elected to public office in the city. Her decision to enter the race sent shockwaves through the city's progressive political camp and has raised concerns that the seat could be won by a more moderate candidate such as Sparks.

Like Avalos, many of Kim's endorsers are also supporting Walker, such as Assemblywoman Fiona Ma; Board of Equalization Chair Betty Yee; and Supervisor Eric Mar. Board President David Chiu; Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi; and openly gay BART board member Tom Radulovich are all backing Kim in the race.

Glendon Hyde, whose drag persona is Anna Conda, has also drawn quite a bit of attention to his campaign. Should he win the race he would be become the first openly HIV-positive person to serve on the board.

Similar to the District 8 race, the District 6 contest has seen a flood of money being funneled into it by special interest groups. As of Monday, October 25 the Ethics Commission had raised the spending cap for five candidates – Meko, Walker, Keyes, Kim and attorney Elaine Zamora – to $243,000, while Sparks had her cap lifted to $213,000.

The campaign watchdog agency said it made the decision because the total supportive funds for Sparks had surpassed the $250,700 mark while the total supportive funds for Walker, when combined with opposition spending against Sparks, had hit $213,559.

"It will be interesting to see whether the huge amounts of money they are spending can buy them the district or not. I don't think it is working," said Meko.

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