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Political Notebook: First D8 supervisor race debate set

by Matthew S. Bajko

The two gay men running in 2018 for the District 8 seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will engage in their first debate later this month.

The city's two LGBT Democratic political clubs are co-hosting the November 13 discussion between appointed Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, a gay married father who is the first openly HIV-positive person to serve on the board, and attorney Rafael Mandelman, who serves on the board overseeing City College of San Francisco. KQED reporter Marisa Lagos will moderate the 90-minute program that will focus on just two topics: housing and homelessness.

The candidates have long ties with the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, as they both are past presidents of the progressive political group. Mandelman is also a former board member of the more moderate Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club.

"We promised at the beginning of the year to do things together. We thought this would be a great way to do something together with former leaders in both our clubs," said Alice Co-Chair Louise "Lou" Fischer.

Sheehy and Mandelman are expected to twice compete for the board seat next year. The first election will take place on the June primary ballot as they are seeking to serve out the remainder of gay former Supervisor Scott Wiener's term, as he resigned two years into his second term as supervisor after being elected to the state Senate last November. Mayor Ed Lee tapped Sheehy earlier this year to fill the board vacancy.

No matter the outcome of the June race, Sheehy and Mandelman have both filed to run for a full four-year term on the November ballot next year. It is the second time Mandelman has sought the District 8 seat, having lost to Wiener in 2010.

A week after the debate at its monthly meeting November 21, the Milk club is expected to early-endorse Mandelman in the race. The Alice club isn't expected to vote on its endorsement until sometime in early 2018.

Fischer told the Bay Area Reporter this week that the clubs would like to host several more debates with the District 8 candidates ahead of the June election. Mandelman and Sheehy both told the B.A.R. they have yet to be asked to do so but would be amenable to participating if their schedules allowed.

As of now the two are the only serious candidates seeking the D8 seat. Meaghan Zore, a lesbian attorney, and John Patrick Donohue, who had pulled papers to run, told the B.A.R. this week they have decided not to, while a third potential candidate, Mark Gillick, did not respond to questions on if he planned to run.

A fourth person, perennial candidate for local office H. Brown, told the B.A.R. he plans to run in November but only as a spoiler candidate against Sheehy.

"My only platform is to elect the police chief," said Brown, a Navy veteran who is backing Mandelman for supervisor. "I never tried to win a race and I don't think I could. I wouldn't vote for me."

The debate will take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday, November 13 at the LGBT Community Center, 1800 Market Street.

Sheehy changes consultants
As the race starts to heat up, Sheehy this week switched campaign consultants, signing with Oakland-based Larry Tramutola. In July, he had begun working with the San Francisco firm Whitehurst Mosher Campaign Strategy and Media.

Forms filed with the city's Ethics Commission show Sheehy had hired Whitehurst Mosher through May 1, 2018. But the firm informed the department October 17 that Sheehy had terminated its contract.

John Whitehurst did not respond to a request for comment, and Sheehy discounted rumors the decision wasn't amicable. He told the B.A.R. he has talked to Whitehurst about using his firm to handle his campaign mail next year.

"I have known Larry Tramutola for years. I know all these people," said Sheehy.

Web Extra: For more queer political news, be sure to check http://www.ebar.com Monday mornings at noon for Political Notes, the notebook's online companion. This week's column reported on former U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer's endorsement of a transgender Palm Springs City Council candidate.

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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