Political Notebook: Out candidates again enter SF education races

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday August 17, 2022
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William Walker, left, is once again seeking a seat on the City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees, while Phil Kim is again running for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Education. Photos: Walker, courtesy Facebook; Kim, courtesy the candidate
William Walker, left, is once again seeking a seat on the City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees, while Phil Kim is again running for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Education. Photos: Walker, courtesy Facebook; Kim, courtesy the candidate

Two gay men are again seeking educational posts in San Francisco that they previously sought and lost. Both face an uphill climb in their respective races, while a queer nonbinary former community college board student representative now seeking an elected seat has support from labor groups and progressive Democrats.

William Walker, a gay Black man who previously was the student trustee on the board that oversees City College of San Francisco, is again seeking an elected seat on it. In 2014, he came up short in his bid to serve out the remaining two years of the term vacated by former Trustee Chris Jackson, who had resigned that year. Walker also lost his 2018 bid for one of the city's two seats on the board that oversees the regional transit agency BART.

A graduate of City College, Walker has remained involved in advocating for the troubled two-year school, which faces declining enrollment and a fiscal deficit that has led to teacher and staff layoffs. He will officially kick off his candidacy in conjunction with his 43rd birthday at 7 p.m. Friday, August 26, at the Marigold Event Space, located atop the bar Churchill at 194 Church Street at the intersection with 14th and Market streets.

As Walker notes on the website to RSVP for his event, https://bit.ly/3JWi1L6, one focus of his on the college board would be increasing "enrollment for programs at the college that can land students in jobs as nurses, teachers, and software developers, fields that for the past decade have been short the workers they need."

There is again an election for a partial term on the college board this year, but Walker is running for one of the three, full four-year terms on the November 8 ballot. Also seeking one of the seats is fellow former student trustee Vick Chung, who identifies as a gender-neutral, nonbinary femme and had worked as a paid canvasser for the political group SF Rising two years ago.

All three incumbents — Trustees Brigitte Davila, John Rizzo, and Thea Selby — are seeking reelection. Also challenging them are Marie Hurabiell, who was involved in recalling former District Attorney Chesa Boudin; engineer Jason Chuyuan Zeng; Jill Yee, the college's former dean of social sciences, behavioral sciences, ethnic studies and social justice; retired elementary school teacher Susan Solomon; and retired city college teacher Anita Martinez.

Seeking the partial term that ends in 2025 is Trustee Murrell Green, whom Mayor London Breed appointed to the college board this summer to fill the vacancy created when gay former trustee Tom Temprano resigned to become political director of the statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization Equality California. Running against Green are retired city college counselor and chair Adolfo Velasquez and arts nonprofit director Daniel Landry.

The San Francisco Democratic Party August 13 endorsed Green for the shortened term and Martinez and Solomon for full terms. After several rounds of voting where Chung and Selby both came close to securing the endorsement, Chung eventually emerged with the local party's backing of their candidacy.

At its August 16 meeting the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club voted to endorse Chung, Martinez, and Solomon. It endorsed Velasquez in the other college board race.

SF school board

In the closely watched race for three seats on the board that oversees the San Francisco Unified School District, the election has been overshadowed by appointed member Ann Hsu's racist comments on a candidate questionnaire that have led to calls for her resignation and recalled former member Gabriela López now attempting to be reelected to her seat.

Voters overwhelmingly recalled López, along with former school board members Alison Collins and Moliga Faauuga, in a special election last February. Parents upset with the trio's handling of school closures and reopenings during the pandemic fueled the recall, as did anger over Collins' anti-Asian tweets from years ago that were resurfaced by recall backers.

Breed in the spring appointed Hsu, Lainie Motamedi, and Lisa Weissman-Ward to fill the vacancies of the terms that expire this year. Thus, the trio is running for full four-year terms on the November ballot.

Making his third attempt for a school board seat is Phil Kim, a gay man and senior director of a local charter school company. Kim, who lost his bids in 2018 and 2016, is a board member of the Alice B. Toklas LGBTQ Democratic Club and co-chairs the board that oversees the San Francisco LGBTQ youth nonprofit LYRIC.

Also running are special education advocate Alida Fisher, who also lost her 2018 bid for a school board seat, and single mom Karen Fleshman, whose two children attend the city's public schools and who's the founder and CEO of Racy Conversations, which focuses on workplace diversity and inclusion issues.

San Francisco Democrats endorsed Fisher, Motamedi, and Weissman-Ward over the weekend. The Milk club endorsed López, Fisher, and Fleshman at its meeting Tuesday.

Milk club endorsements

In other fall races, the progressive queer political group endorsed incumbent Supervisors Gordon Mar (District 4), Rafael Mandelman (D8), and Shamann Walton (D10), president of the Board of Supervisors, for reelection. It also backed Honey Mahogany, a queer transgender nonbinary candidate seeking the District 6 seat currently held by Supervisor Matt Dorsey, a gay man appointed to the city in the spring by Breed.

The club made no endorsement in the District 2 race, where moderate Supervisor Catherine Stefani is running unopposed. Milk did endorse appointed Assessor-Recorder Joaquín Torres, who is running unopposed for a full four-year term, and Public Defender Mano Raju's reelection bid. Seeking to oust Raju from office is assistant district attorney and former deputy public defender Rebecca Young.

In the DA's race the club voted to endorse former police commissioner John Hamasaki. He threw his hat in the ring last week to run against appointed DA Brooke Jenkins, whom Breed named to serve out the remainder of Boudin's term and must now seek election before the voters to remain in the position through early January 2024.

Also running to be the city's top prosecutor are attorneys Joe Alioto Veronese and Maurice Chenier. The winner of the race will need to seek a full four-year term in 2023, an election that could see Boudin run to be reelected as DA.

Out candidates secure 2nd terms

Since no one filed Friday to oppose them this year, several out leaders in the Bay Area have now secured second terms.

In San Francisco, BART board member and current Vice President Janice Li is the sole candidate for her District 8 seat in November. It covers the city's western and northern neighborhoods and has shared jurisdiction over the regional transit agency's Embarcadero, Montgomery Street, Powell Street, and Glen Park stations, plus full oversight of the Balboa Park station.

The first queer woman of color and the first Asian American woman on the regional transit agency's board, Li is the only Asian member of one of the country's three elected transit boards. Li's name will still appear on the November ballot, though she is now assured another four years overseeing BART as it continues to deal with the fiscal fallout brought on by the COVID pandemic and works with its Silicon Valley transit partners to bring service into downtown San Jose.

Meanwhile, gay San Leandro Unified School District board President James Aguilar no longer has to worry about mounting a reelection campaign. Because no one filed to run against him, he is one of dozens of local school board members who will be automatically seated to another term. Only educational races that are contested appear on the ballot.

"I'm honored to announce that after passing the filing deadline, my re-election campaign went unopposed and not on the ballot. With your help, I'm staying on the #SanLeandro School Board for another four years," wrote Aguilar on his social media last Friday.

Thursday, August 18, he begins his new job as a teacher in the social science department at Arroyo High School in the San Lorenzo Unified School District. At the same time, he will be working to complete his teaching credential via an internship program that allows him to work full-time in the classroom.

Appointed Chabot-Las Positas Community College District Board of Trustees member Harris Mojadedi also saw no one pull papers to run against him for a full term in the district's Trustee Area 3 seat so he will be automatically given another four years on the oversight body. The Union City resident was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Alameda County college district last February, becoming the first gay Afghan American to hold an elected public office in the U.S.

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 results of a number of August LGBTQ primary races across the country.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBTQ political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/politicalnotes

Got a tip on LGBTQ politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail [email protected]

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