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Political Notebook: Wiener, Sheehy hold off endorsing Leno's 2019 SF mayoral bid

by Matthew S. Bajko

State Senator Scott Wiener, left, and District 8<br>Supervisor Jeff Sheehy are holding off on endorsing in the 2019 mayoral race.<br>Photo: Rick Gerharter
State Senator Scott Wiener, left, and District 8
Supervisor Jeff Sheehy are holding off on endorsing in the 2019 mayoral race.
Photo: Rick Gerharter  

Of the three gay men who have followed gay former state Senator Mark Leno on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in the District 8 seat, only Bevan Dufty has endorsed Leno's 2019 mayoral bid.

Both Scott Wiener, who in December succeeded Leno in the state Senate, and Jeff Sheehy , who succeeded Wiener on the board in January, told the Bay Area Reporter they are not yet ready to make an endorsement in a race that is more than two years away. Both are considered moderates, while Leno has moved closer to the progressive wing of the local Democratic Party.

Dufty has also become more progressive since he won the supervisor seat in 2002 when Leno was elected to the state Assembly. He lost his own mayoral bid in 2011 against Mayor Ed Lee, a race Leno opted against entering.

"Mark's success and ambition enabled me to run for office. I have admired him, and he has mentored me," said Dufty, now an elected member of the board overseeing the regional BART transit agency. "I think the city is ready for a progressive approach to leading San Francisco. Like my former boss (Congresswoman) Shirley Chisholm, Mark Leno is 'unbought and unbossed.' As relevant as that was in 1968, it is very relevant to San Francisco in 2019."

In his Senate race last year against progressive Supervisor Jane Kim, Wiener secured Leno's endorsement, as the two have long been political allies. Thus, when Leno pulled papers May 4 to run for mayor and released an initial list of endorsers, Wiener's omission raised eyebrows and sparked speculation he could be eying a mayoral run.

Asked if he was looking to mount a bid for Room 200 at City Hall, Wiener told the B.A.R. "No." As for an endorsement in the race, he said he would wait to make an announcement, as there are "a number of people considering running for mayor."

While he noted, "I am very supportive of Mark," Wiener said he is trying "to be very respectful of all the great leaders" who may jump into the race.

Among moderates, Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and Supervisors London Breed, the board president, and Mark Farrell are all eying a run. Kim and fellow progressive City Attorney Dennis Herrera , Wiener's former boss whom he endorsed in the 2011 mayor's race, are both considering mayoral bids.

Sheehy, who must run next June to serve out the remainder of Wiener's term and then run again in November for a full four-year term, said he is focused on his own campaign at the moment. Already, gay City College of San Francisco board member Rafael Mandelman, a progressive who has endorsed Leno for mayor, is running against Sheehy for the Castro-centric supervisor seat.

"I know Mark, I respect him, and I am glad he is running. But that race is two and a half years away. I need to focus on my own election first," said Sheehy.

Asked about Wiener and Sheehy not being among his early endorsers, Leno told the B.A.R. "these are personal decisions and people have to make them when they feel ready."

As for if he has asked Leno to endorse his supervisor bid, Sheehy indicated he has spoken to Leno but told the B.A.R. to ask Leno if he had his support in the race. Leno, in turn, said he has yet to decide if he will endorse in the supervisor race and declined to say when he would.

Mandelman, who lost to Wiener in the 2010 race for the D8 seat, told the B.A.R., "I would love to earn Mark Leno's endorsement, but Mark is running for mayor and that has to be his first priority."

He said he early-endorsed Leno's mayoral bid due to his being "a tremendous champion of City College" as it has fought for its survival amid an accreditation crisis the last few years. Leno passed special legislation in the Statehouse that financially assisted the troubled school.

"We worked closely together during the accreditation crisis, and he was a real hero during that whole unfortunate episode" said Mandelman. "I also think he would be a great mayor."

Wiener has endorsed Sheehy's supervisor bid, telling the B.A.R. he "thinks the world of Jeff" and that he has already proved to be "a strong leader" on the board.

Dufty has yet to endorse in the supervisor race and likely won't until sometime next year.

"I am close to both of them," he explained. "I have offered both of them my support, counsel, and any help making connections with people."


Berkeley school leader plans Assembly bid

Lesbian Berkeley school board member Judy Appel plans to run for an East Bay Assembly seat in 2018. She will be the second out candidate in the race.

As last week's Political Notebook reported, lesbian Richmond City Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles announced this month that she is running for the 15th Assembly District seat, as the incumbent, Assemblyman Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond), is running to be the state's superintendent of public instruction. The district includes the cities of Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Emeryville, Hercules, Kensington, Piedmont, Pinole, Richmond, San Pablo, Tara Hills, and a portion of Oakland.

After the B.A.R. went to press last Wednesday, Appel responded to a question regarding her political plans. She confirmed that she is planning to run for the seat and is putting together her campaign team before she formally announces.

Oakland City Councilmember Dan Kalb is also running for the Assembly seat. Of the three Democrats, Appel is considered a moderate, while Kalb and Beckles are both progressives.

A third lesbian politician, Oakland At-Large City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, has been mentioned as another potential candidate. She has yet to clarify her plans.

Members of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, San Francisco's progressive LGBT political group, agreed this week to vote at their June meeting on early-endorsing Beckles in the race. Should Beckles win the seat, she could become the first out African American state legislator.

If an out candidate were to win, they would be the first out state lawmaker from the East Bay.


SF supes approve gay, trans commissioners

At their meeting Tuesday, the San Francisco supervisors approved two gay men to serve on the city's aging advisory panel and a transgender woman to serve on the panel overseeing single-room occupancy hotels used to house homeless and low-income individuals.

The board unanimously voted to accept the two mayoral appointments to the Aging and Adults Services Commission. The mayor reappointed Gustavo Serina to the body for a term ending July 21, 2020, while Lee named Perry Lang to serve out a term ending January 15, 2019.

Serina, who writes for the B.A.R.'s arts section under the pen name Tavo Amador, is a longtime former Castro resident who now lives in a senior living facility and has been featured in its advertising. Lang is a former executive director of the Rafiki Coalition for Health and Wellness, which had been known as the Black Coalition on AIDS.

The supervisors also unanimously voted to appoint nine people to the Single Room Occupancy Task Force for terms ending December 31, 2018, including transgender activist Jordan Davis . She will be the only known LGBT person serving on the SRO oversight body and only the second known transgender person to be named to it, the first having served nearly a decade ago.

"Some of the things I'd like to see addressed are nonprofit tenants rights issues, uniform visitor policy, making sure all single occupancy common bathrooms are gender neutral, and even holding a discussion on transgender rights issues in general, among other concerns," Davis told the B.A.R.


State fines national LGBT group

California's Fair Political Practices Commission has fined the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund $6,500 for improperly reporting donations it received in 2012, some of which was used to assist a gay Latino Los Angeles leader who was running for an Assembly seat that year. The errors were discovered due to an audit performed by the state Franchise Tax Board's Political Reform Audit Program.

The review determined that Frank Selvaggi and Kim Hoover, who both served as the treasurer of the Victory Fund's now closed state campaign committee, had failed to report $143,640 in received contributions and $141,002 in expenditures for the reporting periods of March 18, 2012 through May 19, 2012 and July 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012.

According to the FPPC, some of the funds paid for "get out the vote auto calls" for Luis Lopez, who lost to Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles). Gomez is now the leading candidate in the special election for the 34th Congressional District seat that was vacated earlier this year by Xavier Becerra when he became the state's attorney general. Should Gomez win, Lopez has announced he will run in the special election this summer to serve out the remainder of Gomez' terms representing the 51st Assembly District.

Other problems were also discovered with the Victory Fund's filings, including some reporting violations, failure to keep proper records, and issues regarding the committee's "restricted use" and "all purpose" accounts, according to the FPPC. However, the errors are being treated as only aggravating factors and not as additional counts against the national LGBT group, which aims to elect LGBT people to public office.

The additional problems do account for the fine being so high. The FPPC did conclude there was no intent to conceal the funds from the public, and both the Victory Fund and the treasurers contended the errors "were unintentional" and agreed to settle the matter by paying the fine.

"Victory Fund takes its filing obligations seriously and has cooperated throughout the investigation," stated Elliot Imse, the nonprofit's director of communications, in an emailed reply to the B.A.R.

The FPPC is expected to approve the fine at its meeting May 25.


Web Extra: For more queer political news, be sure to check Monday mornings at noon for Political Notes, the notebook's online companion. This week's column reported on a $1M ask for LGBT programs in Santa Clara County, including the creation of a program manager focused on transgender issues.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBT political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @

Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail


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