Political Notebook: Out candidates vying for three SF supervisor seats

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday June 15, 2022
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Supervisors Rafael Mandelman, left, is seeking reelection, while Supervisor Matt Dorsey will face voters for the first time and is challenged by Honey Mahogany. New District 4 resident Joel Engardio is trying for the fourth time to be elected supervisor. Photos: Dorsey, Jane Philomen Cleland; Mandelman, Mahogany, Engardio courtesy the candidates
Supervisors Rafael Mandelman, left, is seeking reelection, while Supervisor Matt Dorsey will face voters for the first time and is challenged by Honey Mahogany. New District 4 resident Joel Engardio is trying for the fourth time to be elected supervisor. Photos: Dorsey, Jane Philomen Cleland; Mandelman, Mahogany, Engardio courtesy the candidates

Three of the five races in November for even-numbered seats on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors have drawn well-known LGBTQ community leaders. Should out candidates be victorious in all of them then the city will see the largest number of LGBTQ supervisors in a decade.

In 2012, two gay men and the city's first bisexual supervisor served on the board that year. But Christina Olague, who had been appointed to fill a vacancy, lost her bid that fall for a full term as the District 5 supervisor.

After David Campos termed off the board at the start of 2017, a trio of gay men representing District 8 maintained out leadership on the board. The current incumbent, Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, is seeking reelection this year.

Lawyer Kate Stoia, who lives in Noe Valley, also qualified for the contest on the November 8 ballot. The mother of a public high school student impacted by the school closures due to COVID, Stoia was among the many parents who decried how long it took for the public schools to reopen.

She did not return the Bay Area Reporter's request for comment by its print deadline Wednesday. A William Jackson also qualified for the race, though the city's elections department page for candidates didn't list any contact info for him.

Mandelman told the B.A.R. he isn't familiar with Stoia but looked forward to learning more about her as they campaign for the seat representing the city's LGBTQ Castro district and Noe Valley, Glen Park, Diamond Heights, Duboce Triangle, Twin Peaks, and Cole Valley neighborhoods.

"I don't know much about her but I look forward to learning more and I'm happy for the opportunity to spend some time over the next few months to talk about the work I have been doing and hope to continue," texted Mandelman.

Due to his appointment last month as the new District 6 supervisor, Matt Dorsey doubled gay representation on the board. Dorsey, the second known supervisor to be living with HIV, is now seeking a full four-year term in November representing South of Market, Treasure Island, and Mission Bay.

As the B.A.R. has previously reported, challenging him are two Black transgender leaders. Longtime Tenderloin resident Ms. Billie Cooper moved last fall into the same housing complex where Dorsey lives after a water leak damaged her former apartment.

Queer San Francisco Democratic Party Chair Honey Mahogany, who had served as chief of staff for former District 6 supervisor Matt Haney, now a state assemblymember, is also vying to become the first Black transgender supervisor in California. She would also be the first nonbinary and first drag queen supervisor to serve in San Francisco.

Also running for the District 6 seat is Black labor leader Cherelle Jackson, who co-chairs the Service Employees International Union Local 1021 Workers with Disabilities Committee.

Competing against District 4 Supervisor Gordon Mar, who is seeking a second term, is gay former journalist Joel Engardio. This is Engardio's fourth bid to join the board, as he previously had mounted unsuccessful campaigns to be elected the District 7 supervisor.

"I am following in the footsteps of Harvey Milk; fourth time is the charm," said Engardio, referring to the fact that it took the late gay supervisor Milk four tries in the 1970s to become the first gay person elected to office in San Francisco and California.

(Milk ran once for state Assembly and three times for supervisor.)

Due to the redistricting process this year, Engardio found his residence in the Lakeside district near Stern Grove moved out of the West of Twin Peaks district and into Mar's predominately Sunset-based district. Over the weekend he announced that gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) had endorsed him in the race.

"I am making lemonade out of lemons," Engardio told the B.A.R. this week. "I was kicked out of my beloved District 7. Life is strange."

Engardio leads the group Stop Crime SF, which helped mobilize against the wave of anti-Asian attacks in recent years, and was involved in the successful recall campaigns against three of the city's school board members and District Attorney Chesa Boudin. Engardio is married to Lionel Hsu, who emigrated from Taiwan and is a software engineer.

Also running against Mar is Leanna Louie, who co-founded the United Peace Collaborative in March 2020 to help clean up and safely patrol the city's Chinatown. For nearly five years she had co-owned and managed the Mission district restaurant Melody Cafe.

Like Engardio, Louie was a vocal backer of recalling Boudin and helped defeat the ballot measure aimed at making it harder to recall the city's elected officials. They are both expected to campaign on the fact that Mar didn't support either of the recalls this year while strong majorities of voters in his district backed both.

Mar last Friday, June 10, filed for reelection at City Hall surrounded by his family, Chinese community leaders, and Sunset neighborhood leaders. He is touting his support during his first term of the district's first two affordable housing projects aimed at teachers and working families, as well as a safety plan for the Sunset.

"I officially filed for reelection today with Cecilia, Lian and a beautiful group of friends and community activists," noted Mar, referring to his wife and daughter, in an Instagram post. "Thanks to everyone who's been on the journey with us over the past four years. Let's do this!"

Also seeking reelection this year are District 2 Supervisor Catherine Stefani, who represents the Marina, and Board President Shamann Walton, who represents District 10 covering the Potrero, Dogpatch and Bayview neighborhoods. Both are expected to easily win their races come the fall, as no one filed to run against Stefani, while Walton is facing one opponent, Brain Sam Adam.

Stefani, meanwhile, is seen as a potential appointee to replace Boudin as DA. Mayor London Breed is expected to name her pick in July, and if she goes with Stefani, then she would also appoint her successor on the board.

Walton, in a recent email to his supporters, noted, "I ran for the Board of Supervisors because I wanted everyone to have a voice in City Hall, regardless of their status or privilege. I'm proud that over the last four years I took on tough issues and made a real impact in the lives of all San Franciscans."

Majority of SF supes back Li for BART board

A majority of the San Francisco supervisors is supporting BART board member Janice Li's reelection to her District 8 seat in November. 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.

She officially kicked off her campaign Monday, June 13, as the B.A.R.'s online Political Notes column was first to report. Currently serving as the oversight body's vice president, Li is poised to become board president in 2023 should she win reelection to a second four-year term.

Under the new redistricted boundaries adopted in March for the board's nine seats, District 8 now has partial jurisdiction over BART's Embarcadero, Montgomery Street, Powell Street, and Glen Park stations and full oversight of the Balboa Park station. It wraps around the city's northern and western neighborhoods to cover North Beach; Chinatown; the Marina, Richmond and Sunset districts, Ingleside, and Balboa Park.

Joining Supervisors Stefani, Mar, Walton, Myrna Melgar (District 7), and Hillary Ronen (District 9) in early endorsing Li is District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston. Li unveiled a full list of endorsers on her campaign website Monday at https://www.janiceforbart.com/

She is hosting a campaign kickoff at 6 p.m. Monday, June 20, at the Richmond Republic Draught House located at 642 Clement Street in San Francisco.

Alice club unveils Pride breakfast guests

After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic disrupting the city's Pride festivities, the Alice B. Toklas LGBTQ Democratic Club is bringing back its breakfast fundraiser prior to the start of the Pride parade. This year's event will be the club's 25th Pride Breakfast.

Among this year's invited speakers will be Tony Hoang, executive director of statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization Equality California, and Planned Parenthood California President Jodi Hicks. Gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) will be one of the keynote speakers for the first time.

"Senator Wiener was already on our short list for his body of legislative accomplishments for our community, but yesterday reminded us of all of this work for our community despite the relentless attacks and near-constant death threats, so Iowayna (Peña) and I made the decision to invite him almost immediately," Alice co-chair Gary McCoy told the B.A.R., referring to the bomb threat made against Wiener and his staff Sunday, June 12.

Wiener, a former co-chair of the club, has made brief remarks or introductions at previous breakfasts, but this is the first time he has been asked to deliver a keynote address. He told the B.A.R. he was "deeply honored" by the invite.

"Alice is my home club — I've been a members for nearly 25 years, served on the board for nearly a decade, and served as club co-chair," wrote Wiener in a texted reply. "As we confront the rising tide of homophobia and transphobia — and the violence associated with these vile hatreds — Pride this year takes on even more significance than usual for our community. I'm looking forward to a fun and meaningful Pride and to recommitting to the hard work ahead."

The breakfast begins "promptly at 8 a.m." Sunday, June 26, noted the club leaders, and will take place at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero. Tickets can be purchased online.

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 Janice Li's BART board reelection campaign.

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 m.bajko@ebar.com

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