Much like this November’s ballot, the District 11 Democratic Club and District 11 Council‘s election forum was packed, filling the Crocker Amazon Clubhouse on Sept. 10 until it was standing room only.
Participants heard candidates for three different offices all speak in the hopes for the club’s endorsement.
The first debate was between District Six Supervisor Jane Kim and District Eight Scott Wiener for the California State Senate seat.
Sitting next to each other, Kim and Wiener took turns responding to questions from moderator Andrea Granda, co-chair of nonprofit the Excelsior Action Group’s steering committee.
In their opening statements, Wiener spoke about his work on public safety, healthcare and paid family leave and Kim outlined her record on affordable housing and tenant protection legislation.
Afterward, the club endorsed Jane Kim.
Paul Henderson and Victor Hwang compared records in their competition for a seat on the San Francisco Superior Court.
Hwang introduced himself as a lawyer with “six times the jury trial experience” in the courts than his opponent and insisted that the election for judge should be about experience not politics.
Henderson, currently the deputy chief of staff and public safety liaison in the mayor’s office and a native San Franciscan, said his race would be good for the diversity of the bench, in a system where “83 percent of the people who come to our criminal courts are African American in a City that is 3.7 percent African American.”
“I think one of the biggest things that needs to happen [with the police department] is to have more diversity with intentionality. We have to do more than just say, ‘our doors are open to communities of color to serve as police…’ We have to have specific and directed plans [to recruit more diverse police officers],” Henderson said.
“You are electing a judge, not a politician,” Hwang responded. “Paul has spent probably the last decade of his career working as a policy person… I agree with a lot of what he has to say but judges are not politicians. We’re not there to do political things. We make decisions based on the facts and be fair to the people before us.”
In their vote, the club failed to reach a 60 percent majority required to endorse either candidate.
District 11 Supervisor
The final match was between candidates Ahsha Safai, Francisco Herrera, Kimberly Alvarenga and Magdalena De Guzman for the open seat for District 11 supervisor. Berta Hernandez did not participate.
The four candidates echoed a sentiment that District 11 and its working class residents have been left out of the benefits of San Francisco’s economic boom.
“I have spent the past eleven months going door to door talking to voters and I have heard nothing but frustration about our neighborhood being treated like the forgotten part of the city,” Safai said in his opening remarks.
Safai highlighted his record working on local issues such as successfully fighting against marijuana dispensaries in the district and advocating for additional funding for Balboa Park.
Alvarenga, the political director for Service Employees International Union, called for economic development in the district.
“The Broad street, OMI neighborhood, needs a lot of attention. I have been talking to elders there that say they have to take a bus to Daly City to buy food. That is immoral,” Alveranga said. “The [Office of Economic and Workforce Development’s] Invest in Neighborhoods program is supposed to managing. I want to see some outcomes. We need to have a supermarket there so our families can buy fresh produce [without taking three buses].”
Herrera, who ran for Mayor in June to show that Mayor Ed Lee had “no mandate,” spoke about economic and racial inequalities in the city and country in English and Spanish.
“Not only are we living through the worst economic crisis since 1929 in this country, but we are in the worst gentrification crisis in this city,” Herrera said.
De Guzman spoke about coming to the country as a 14-year old, and her work as a public school teacher and teacher’s union representative.
“As a school teacher I learned a lot from working with hungry or homeless students who have their heads down because their energy level is low,” De Guzman said. “I know about the social, political issues that we have to address. Now we have to implement solutions on a local level.”
The club endorsed Kimberly Alvarenga for supervisor.