for D5 supervisor
From the moment Mayor Ed Lee appointed her to fill the remainder of Ross Mirkarimi's term, Supervisor Christina Olague has traveled a difficult path and faces a tough race for a full term on the Board of Supervisors. Olague has upset progressives and moderates alike by changing her mind on certain issues as she found her footing. She has had virtually no "honeymoon" on the board as she's had to immediately raise money for her election campaign and fend off her challengers.
We are, however, extremely pleased with the courage she exhibited Tuesday night in voting to reinstate Sheriff Mirkarimi. Her vote, along with those by her colleagues (Supervisors John Avalos, David Campos, and Jane Kim), was a powerful statement against the mayoral abuse of power and the politicized nature of the case and reflects the unique make-up of District 5, which Mirkarimi represented for seven years on the Board of Supervisors and where he remains very popular.
Olague is our first choice for District 5 supervisor.
In a public statement, Olague said that she took a "very pragmatic approach to reviewing the charges and establishing my understanding of both the facts and the recommendation before us."
"As a member of this board, I take very seriously the responsibility to represent the citizens of my district and of this city and to uphold the duties required of me as outlined by the charter," she added. That said, after reviewing the case, she determined that "the removal of any elected official from office requires that the mayor supply evidence that demonstrates, with great certainty, that the charter prescribed definition of official misconduct was violated." She said that she could not find Mirkarimi's "actions were executed through his authority as a sheriff, and I will not be supporting a motion to sustain the charges."
Politicians too often are more concerned with their next race than doing the right thing. Olague's vote Tuesday proved the opposite; she has likely upset a lot of people, including the mayor who appointed her and his powerful backers. But her action showed guts and resolve. It is a vivid example of how she will work to put her constituents first.
An out bi woman for most of her adult life and a person of color, Olague brings an important queer perspective to the board, which was missing before her appointment. Shortly after joining the board she worked with out Supervisors Scott Wiener and David Campos to request that the mayor backfill millions of dollars in federal AIDS cuts. She worked on programs that addressed the needs of LGBTQ seniors, supports the city's new LGBT Senior Task Force, and was an organizer at the Senior Action Network.
Olague has experience in development and planning – she's the former president of the Planning Commission – and would like to see more transparency from the Mayor's Office of Housing, which currently controls the in-lieu fees paid by developers for affordable housing. She is a strong proponent of Openhouse's planned housing development for LGBT seniors at 55 Laguna Street.
At the other end of the spectrum, a lot of young people are coming to the district and many in the Haight, like the Castro, are LGBT and there is no place for them to go. "I think we have to be more compassionate," Olague said of homeless queer youth. "It's not such a black and white issue."
Olague is a political novice and that shows at times. When Olague met with us, she acknowledged that she could have spent more time trying to secure the endorsement of either Milk or Alice, the city's two main LGBT Democratic clubs. That she received no recommendation from either club is troubling.
The race in District 5 is perhaps the toughest in the city this year. Olague cares about District 5 and has done her best to represent it. Voters will ultimately make the decision, but Olague has a record of accomplishment and has been effective in the 10 months she has served.
Second choice, London Breed
Among those candidates challenging the incumbent one stands out: London Breed is our second choice in the race.
Breed is a straight ally and native of the district; she grew up in public housing in the Western Addition. And she wants to put an end to the rampant violence, drug dealing, and other crimes that occur. "Now, I'm going to funerals of kids I grew up with," she told us in an editorial board meeting. She also lost a sister to a drug overdose and has a brother in jail, so she knows first hand the human toll drugs and violence can take on a community.
We were very impressed with Breed in our meeting and she has a lot of good ideas. She is also determined. "I'm honest and not for sale," she said when asked why she's the better candidate for District 5, which also includes the Haight, Inner Sunset, and Alamo Square, where Breed attends Third Baptist Church.
For the last 10 years Breed has served as the executive director of the African American Art and Culture Complex, where she raised over $2.5 million to renovate the facilities. She said that she has a "great relationship" with the supervisors and can work with Mayor Ed Lee. She has served on two city commissions (and is currently on the Fire Commission), knows most of the department heads, and at one time served as an intern for Bevan Dufty. In short, she would hit the ground running.
On the issue of housing, Breed, a former redevelopment commissioner, maintains that developers should build the required affordable housing units simultaneously with the project and perhaps even within the development itself. "There is a lot of money sitting in [the Mayor's Office of Housing] and housing is not sitting there," she said. "My approach would be to build the affordable housing simultaneous with the development even if it's not at the same place."
She also supports the proposed California Pacific Medical Center hospital on Van Ness, but only if CPMC lives up to its obligation to renovate St. Luke's Hospital. "They've got to do better with the nurses, particularly. The deal has to be a good deal for San Francisco because it's a good deal for CPMC," she said.
Regarding LGBT issues, Breed supports marriage equality, a question she said she gets asked by same-sex couples when she's out campaigning. Her pastor, the Reverend Amos Brown, is one of the few African American pastors who have stepped up to support marriage equality. Leaders in the African American community need to be natural when speaking of their support, she said. "We have to instill respect and compassion to kids now," she said. "In my mind, that's how I grew up. I'm not one who tolerates hate."
Breed will be a powerful advocate for District 5 and the city. She understands San Francisco values and wants to help those in need. "An opportunity – not a handout – is what we need," she said.To view the complete list of B.A.R. endorsements, click here: www.ebar.com/down loads/2012_endorsements.pdf.