Political Notebook: LGBT clubs snub out SF school board candidates

  • by Matthew S. Bajko
  • Wednesday August 15, 2018
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Of the trio of out candidates seeking seats this year on the San Francisco Board of Education, it appears two have failed to secure the support of either of the city's two main LGBT political clubs.

Two transgender candidates and a gay man are running in the citywide race for three seats on the seven-person school board. Two of the three seats on the November ballot are open since the incumbents are not running for re-election.

Shamann Walton is instead running for District 10 supervisor, while Hydra Mendoza-McDonnell recently resigned her seat due to moving to New York City for a job with its school district. Emily Murase, Ph.D., is seeking re-election.

Because of the open seats, the filing deadline was extended until 5 p.m. Wednesday. As of Tuesday evening, 28 people had pulled papers for the race, with 14 qualified for the ballot and the others pending.

While transgender advocate Mia Satya earned an early endorsement of her candidacy from the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club, she appears to have failed to earn the endorsement of the more moderate Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club. Satya is vying to become the first transgender female elected leader in the city.

The Alice club's political action committee over the weekend had recommended endorsements for Murase and Michelle Parker but took no position on who should be endorsed for the third school board seat.

While the club members voted Monday night on approving the endorsements in the school board race and a number of other contests on the November ballot, Alice's leadership said it would not make the school board endorsements official until after the close of the extended filing deadline.

Asked if the club would revote on its endorsements in the race, Alice co-chair Eric Lukoff told the Bay Area Reporter, "We will evaluate the situation if additional candidates enter the race."

A source supportive of seeing Satya be endorsed by the club told the B.A.R. that it did not appear she had succeeded in doing so. In a note to her supporters Monday prior to the vote, Satya noted that she had support from many Alice board members and "would be extremely honored to receive" an endorsement from the club, of which she is a member.

As for the Milk club, its PAC over the weekend recommended it endorse two straight women of color in the race: Alison Collins and Gabriela Lopez. Milk members will vote on the endorsements at the club's meeting Tuesday, August 21.

Should they be approved, it would mean that the two other out school board candidates would be snubbed by both of the city's LGBT political clubs. Martin Rawlings-Fein is vying to become the first elected male transgender public official in both the city and state. He would also be the first bisexual man to win elective office in San Francisco.

Rawlings-Fein had told the B.A.R. that he came in third place at the Milk club PAC meeting last Saturday when it considered who to endorse for the other two school board seats. But after the column ran, Milk club Vice President of Internal Affairs Kevin Bard told the paper that, in fact, candidate Faauuga Moliga was in third. Rawlings-Fein was fifth, said Bard.

As of Tuesday, it was unclear how hard Rawlings-Fein would fight to be endorsed by the club.

"I think that the two women of color that the PAC put forward are great candidates, and while I am still running, I am weighing my options of getting folks at the Milk club to open their minds to endorsing two trans candidates," Rawlings-Fein, a married father, told the B.A.R. Tuesday afternoon.

The other out candidate in the race is Phil Kim, a charter school employee who came up short in his 2016 school board bid. He is aiming to be the only LGBT Asian-American currently holding public office in the city.

Sarah Thompson-Peer, a lesbian married mom who served on the city's Children & Youth Fund Oversight and Advisory Committee, had pulled papers last year to run for school board. But she opted against doing so and recently was hired as a staff attorney at La Raza Centro Legal.

Until last year, it had been eight years since the school board, which oversees the San Francisco Unified School District, had a member on it from the LGBT community. Gay school board member Mark Sanchez was elected to the school board in November 2016 and seated in January 2017.

Having previously won a seat on the board years ago, Sanchez had stepped down from the body at the start of 2009, as he ran unsuccessfully the year before for supervisor rather than seek re-election to his seat on the education board. Prior to his winning his school board seat back, all of the other out candidates who had run for school board in the preceding eight years had lost.

CA on verge of having trans male official
The Golden State is on the verge of having its first transgender male public official.

As of the B.A.R.'s deadline Wednesday afternoon, Adam Spickler was the only person seeking an open seat on the Cabrillo Community College Board of Trustees in Santa Cruz County. Gary Reece opted not to run again for his Area II seat on the oversight body, meaning candidates had until 5 p.m. Wednesday to enter the race.

If Spickler remains unopposed for the college board seat, he would be appointed to the college board in lieu of an election and become the first transgender man to hold public office in California. Two transgender women have won elected office in the state, one to a judicial seat and the other to the Palm Springs City Council.

Spickler, 47, lives in Santa Cruz with his husband and works for the county human services department as a senior analyst. He attended Cabrillo prior to his transition and worked in the education field before becoming an aide to several local state lawmakers.

One out East Bay water official is opposed
The terms of two out East Bay water officials both expire December 31, but only one will need to run for re-election in November. Since the other is unopposed, they will not appear on the November ballot and are automatically elected to another four-year term.

Marguerite Young, a lesbian single mom, first won election to her Ward 4 seat on the East Bay Municipal Utility District's oversight body in 2014. She had launched a re-election bid this summer and picked up the Sierra Club's endorsement in early August.

After no one filed papers to run against her by the filing deadline to do so last Friday, she thanked her supporters "for being ready to jump in" to defend her EBMUD seat in a Facebook post Saturday morning.

"Please turn you (sic) attention to flipping Congress and other worthy races," wrote Young.

Her colleague on the local utility board, Andy Katz, a bisexual man who also identifies as gay, will appear on the November ballot since he drew a challenger for his Ward 4 seat.

Katz, who lost his second bid for the state Assembly District 15 seat in the June primary, first won election to the EDMUD board in 2006. He represents the Alameda County cities of Albany, Berkeley, and Emeryville as well as a portion of Oakland, and represents the Contra Costa County cities of El Cerrito and Kensington.

According to the Contra Costa County Registrar of Voters, Elliott Smith pulled papers in July to run against Katz. On Friday, Katz emailed his supporters to announce he had filed to seek re-election and had also secured the Sierra Club's support, though he had to twice resend the note due to an inaccurate link to his fundraising page.

Saying it's "an honor to represent" his district, Katz added that he looks "forward to your input to help protect our environment and improve our local services."

Gay Dublin candidate facing better odds
A gay East Bay city council candidate making his first bid for public office is now facing better odds of winning because neither incumbent filed for re-election.

In the race for two seats on the Dublin City Council, both seats are now open since Councilman Abe Gupta opted not to run again. And Councilwoman Janine Thalblum, appointed earlier this year to a vacancy, stayed true to her commitment not to seek the seat.

It gives a leg up to gay Navy veteran Shawn Kumagai's bid to represent the Alameda County city. As last week's Political Notebook pointed out, Kumagai would be the first out LGBT person elected to a city council seat in the Tri-Valley area of the East Bay.

Candidates had until 5 p.m. Wednesday, after the B.A.R.'s deadline, to pull papers for the race. According to the county registrar's office, five candidates had filed to seek the two council seats, which are elected citywide, as of Wednesday morning.

Web Extra: For more queer political news, be sure to check http://www.ebar.com Monday mornings for Political Notes, the notebook's online companion. This week's column reported on the new leader of the South Bay's main LGBT political group.

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 [email protected].