Political Notebook: SF Dems elect out pair to executive posts

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday April 24, 2024
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The San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee has out leaders Emma Heiken, left, and Mike Chen in its executive ranks. Photos: Courtesy the subjects<br>
The San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee has out leaders Emma Heiken, left, and Mike Chen in its executive ranks. Photos: Courtesy the subjects

The new executive committee for the San Francisco Democratic Party includes two out members who are maintaining LGBTQ leadership among the top posts. Serving as fourth vice chair is Emma Heiken, and Mike Chen is the new director of internal operations.

Heiken, 30, a legislative aide to District 7 Supervisor Myrna Melgar, identifies as fluid. She holds the fifth highest position on the local party's executive committee.

She told the Bay Area Reporter she sought the leadership post because the local party "has its work cut out for us" this electoral year with the presidency and control of Congress to be determined by the November 5 election outcomes along with the fall races for mayor of San Francisco and the odd-numbered seats on the Board of Supervisors.

"We want to make sure people know these things are on their ballot," said Heiken, who is engaged to John Hare, a San Francisco native who works in operations.

Chen, 33, a gay man, is a data engineer and transit advocate. He is a supervisorial appointee from District 2 on the Citizens' Advisory Council for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which he formerly chaired.

"I am happy to serve the party and excited with the direction we are taking the party," said Chen, part of the new moderate majority along with Heiken that now controls the local party.

His executive committee position had been known as recording secretary and is the seventh-highest ranking among the party leaders. Queer BART Board director Janice Li formerly held it but opted against running for another term on the local party's governing body in the March 5 primary.

Colloquially called the D-triple-C, the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee met April 19 to swear in the 24 winners elected in March to DCCC seats and to elect its new leadership team. As the B.A.R.'s Political Notes column first reported March 25, prosecutor Nancy Tung is the new party chair.

She succeeded Honey Mahogany, the first transgender person to hold the position. A district director for Assemblymember Matt Haney (D-San Francisco) and co-owner of the reopened Stud LGBTQ nightclub, Mahogany opted not to seek reelection this year to the DCCC.

The party's oversight body is made up of a mixture of elected officials automatically given seats on it and the 24 members elected by registered Democrats in the city's two state Assembly districts. Heiken is one of 14 hailing from Assembly District 17, covering downtown and eastern neighborhoods like the LGBTQ Castro district.

Chen is among the 10 from Assembly District 19 covering the westside and much of southern San Francisco. He had first sought a DCCC seat in 2020 but came up short that year.

Local party leaders are planning to mobilize the city's Democrats this year to assist with the push in the November election to reclaim the majority in the U.S. House and keep both the U.S. Senate and White House under Democratic control. Heiken told the B.A.R. they are looking at busing party members to help campaign for Democratic congressional candidates in Nevada and once again setting up a phone-banking operation in San Francisco for local party members to help candidates across the country.

"We know a lot of people show up to vote for president. We want to make sure they are voting for everything on their ballot," she said.

A major focus for the DCCC is endorsing in local races. Heiken said the party plans to do so once the filing deadlines close in June and August for the various city elected offices on the November ballot.

Like Chen, she is supportive of Mayor London Breed's bid for reelection. They were among a sextet of DCCC winners who had said they were backing Breed in response to the B.A.R.'s candidate questionnaire.

Challenging Breed are fellow moderates Mark Farrell, a former mayor and District 2 supervisor, and Levi Strauss heir Daniel Lurie. Progressive Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, who represents District 3, is also in the race, as is District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, who has become more progressive since running as a moderate in 2016.

"I have not counted the votes so can't say for certain. She does have my support," Heiken said when asked about Breed's chances of securing the local party's endorsement. "I will look forward to hearing from the other candidates about number twos and threes and all that jazz."

As the highest-ranking LGBTQ person within the local party, which is often a jumping off point for seeking an elected municipal office, Heiken told the B.A.R. she has no plans to run for anything on the fall ballot. Nor has she thought about seeking to be party chair down the line, she said.

Her focus right now is on registering people to vote.

"I want to make sure all San Franciscans vote early, often, and blue; that is the goal," said Heiken.

Fluent in Spanish, and having spent a year in Colombia as a Fulbright Scholar in 2016, Heiken said she plans to speak with her neighbors in the city's Mission district about voting this year. The Latino neighborhood historically has some of the lowest voter turnout rates in the city, she noted.

"I am really focused on November and making sure we have folks turned out to vote in November," said Heiken, who is originally from Eugene, Oregon.

Gay Oakland council candidate Logan hosts birthday event

As he still recovers from a sprained wrist he hurt after hitting a pothole while riding his bike earlier this month, Warren Logan is planning a birthday event for his campaign for the District 3 seat on the Oakland City Council. He is seeking to oust from office the progressive incumbent, Councilmember Carroll Fife.

As the Political Notebook first reported last fall, Logan oversaw mobility issues in both San Francisco and Oakland. He lives in West Oakland with his husband.

Logan would be the first gay man elected to the council since 2012 and its first LGBTQ African American member. He is hosting the campaign event at 2 p.m. May 11 at 7th West, the bar, restaurant, and event space in West Oakland at 1255 7th Street.

It will mark a month after he hit a pothole on 27th Street while riding his bike on April 10, coincidentally the same day he had a scheduled interview with KGO-TV to talk about his city's deteriorating roads. While his bike was unscathed, Logan landed in the emergency room with bruises and a sprained wrist.

"It really speaks to how desperately we need to be fixing Oakland's roads both for safety reasons and as a state of good repair in our city," Logan told the B.A.R. this week. "I am still recovering. My wrist is still very sprained; fortunately most of my bruises and scratches are almost healed."

He said he was "very thankful" to the doctors at Kaiser Permanente who treated him and for the many friends who reached out to wish him well or brought him food while he recovered.

"I couldn't cook for myself for a couple of weeks," said Logan.

Visit his campaign website at warrenforoakland.com to learn more about his candidacy.

EQCA, Skinner back Berkeley mayor in Senate race

In the East Bay race for the open Senate District 7 seat that spans Alameda and Contra Costa counties, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín has picked up the endorsement of Equality California. The straight ally ballyhooed receiving the statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization's backing in an April 22 email to his supporters.

"I am deeply humbled to receive Equality California's endorsement. As a state Senator, I will fight tirelessly and proudly to ensure that California continues to lead the way on equality and social justice for all," he wrote.

Arreguín was the top vote-getter in the March 5 primary. Nabbing second place was AC Transit board member Jovanka Beckles, a former Richmond City Council member who identifies as queer and lesbian.

They are seeking to succeed termed out state Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), who endorsed Arreguín this week. In a statement released by his campaign April 23, she called him a "trusted, progressive and effective leader."

EQCA had endorsed union leader Kathryn Lybarger, who also identifies as queer and lesbian, ahead of the March 5 election. She ended up in fourth place.

In his email about EQCA now endorsing him in the general election, Arreguín noted it is imperative for California voters to pass a state ballot measure in the fall that will repeal the language of same-sex marriage ban Proposition 8 from the state constitution. Prop 8 passed in 2008 and was voided in 2013 by federal court decisions, however, LGBTQ advocates are concerned it could become law again if the conservative-controlled U.S. Supreme Court reverses a 2015 decision that made same-sex marriage a federal right.

"Today, with the rights of LGBTQIA+ Americans under renewed attack from extremists in Washington, D.C. and in state houses throughout the nation, it is more important than ever for us to stand up and fight for true equality for all. And that starts right here in California in November, when we will have a chance to vote to repeal Proposition 8 (which first outlawed marriage equality in 2008)," wrote Arreguín.

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 historic victory of queer Berkeley City Councilmember-elect Cecilia Lunaparra.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBTQ political news by following the Political Notebook on Threads @ https://www.threads.net/@matthewbajko.

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

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