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Editorial: Seize Election Day for Leno for mayor

by BAR Editorial Board

Mayoral candidate Mark Leno, flanked by former supervisors Susan Leal and Sophie Maxwell, was joined by supporters during a weekend get-out-the-vote effort. Photo: Rick Gerharter
Mayoral candidate Mark Leno, flanked by former supervisors Susan Leal and Sophie Maxwell, was joined by supporters during a weekend get-out-the-vote effort. Photo: Rick Gerharter  

Despite what some LGBTQ leaders - and those who support one of the other major candidates for San Francisco mayor - may believe, we are not in a post-gay world. President Donald Trump and his administration are systematically undoing President Barack Obama's legacy, and tilting the country radically to the right by targeting LGBTQs, immigrants, minorities, people living on coasts, and all perceived enemies in a thinly veiled reassertion of white supremacy.

We, LGBTQ voters in San Francisco, have a chance to stand up against exclusion and for diversity by casting our ballots for gay former state lawmaker and city supervisor Mark Leno for mayor in the June 5 primary. As we wrote a few weeks ago, residents can expect a mayor who will bring a depth of experience at the local and state levels to bear on intractable problems like homelessness and housing affordability. Among his other plans:

? Ending street homelessness by 2020, Leno calls for utilizing 1,500 empty single-room occupancy hotel units that are spread across various buildings.

? Advocates changing the city's budgeting process and demanding real results from departments.

? Conducting a managerial and performance audit of department heads - the implication being that changes likely will be made.

? He is committed to ensuring that boards and commissions reflect the face of San Francisco.

As he said in his 60-second TV ad that was broadcast on every local station last week, when he came out almost 50 years ago, being gay was illegal. "When I came out in 1969, being gay was a crime and still considered a mental disorder," he said. "So I came to San Francisco. I met the love of my life here. Then, I lost him to AIDS. Thousands died while the government turned its back. So I decided to fight back for every person who faces discrimination. And for 18 years, I've stood for those without a voice." Although times have changed for the better, the LGBTQ community faces increasing discrimination and violence - even in liberal San Francisco - encouraged by the Trump administration's homophobia. LGBTQs face the same challenges as many other vulnerable communities: We are living with HIV/AIDS, we are addicts, we are homeless, we are forced to leave the city because we can't afford to stay here. Leno will be a mayor for all and will provide the leadership to uphold our values with determination and compassion.

Voters have a choice, as Leno has said on the campaign trail, between the failed status quo or fundamental change. Change is hard for a lot of people, but it doesn't have to be. We urge voters to cast their first choice ballots for Leno. It's time for city departments to be more accountable for how taxpayer money is spent. It's time for new ideas and bold leadership in getting people off the streets.

"I am committed to being a mayor for everyone," Leno said in his latest ad. "I will bring people together to solve our toughest problems."

Last week, Leno told us he embraces the significance of his campaign: "We have the rare and historic opportunity to elect not only the most qualified and experienced candidate, but one who will be the first from our community to lead this city as our next mayor."

We can have a mayor for all of us, and one who happens to be gay too. Seize that opportunity on June 5.

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