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View Diary: A crash course in San Francisco politics (109 comments)

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  •  Additional background (25+ / 0-)

    The city currently has district elections but this is a recent development, or to be more precise, RE-development. When I moved to SF in 1986 all supervisors were elected at-large. This was itself a relatively recent change; I believe it took place somewhere around 1980. Prior to that there were districts, with boundaries different from the current ones. The areas comprising the current Districts 4 and 7 were, back then, the white, ethnic working-class area of San Francisco and the most conservative. They were the ones responsible for electing Dan White to the Board of Supervisors. You may recall that it was White who resigned from the Board (because at that time, Supervisors were paid less than $20,000 a year and he simply couldn't afford the job) and then attempted to change his mind. He was rebuffed by Mayor George Moscone and recently-elected Supervisor Harvey Milk. In response, he snuck back in to city hall and murdered both of them. If I recall correctly it was partly because of this that the city went to at-large elections for supervisors.

    Milk was the first openly gay man to be elected as Supervisor, indeed among the first to be elected to public office anywhere in the nation. Following his assassination he was replaced by another gay man, Harry Britt. There has been non-stop gay representation on the Board of Supervisors since then; sometimes as many as three or four of the eleven sitting supervisors have been gay, lesbian, or bisexual. We've yet to elect a transgender person to city-wide office.

    Personal notes here: current state senator Mark Leno is an acquaintance of mine. I have an extraordinarily high opinion of him and would be happy to seem him run for federal office. He's 61 years old (a few months younger than I am as it happens). During her recent interview, Nancy Pelosi noted that she became a member of Congress in her late 40's which she considered to be relatively late in life. In 2014, Leno will be 63. Even though Leno's politics are a bit more moderate than mine in many respects, I would happily vote for him for ANYTHING.

    My supervisor, Jane Kim she lives in the same building as I do though I don't really know her.

    Two other things of note as well: San Francisco is a small town disguised as a world-class city. Where else can you see your elected officials, past and current, strolling the streets and be able to say hello to them as though they were your best buddies? Politics is, and for a very long time has been, a blood sport here, possibly more so than in any other city I can think of. We have a highly-informed, highly involved electorate and because the city is so compact, the level of personal connection between elected officials and the population at large is unprecedented for a place with such a large population.

    San Francisco politics has a long and colorful history. It was infamously corrupt through much of the 19th Century and well into the 20th. While we are not saints by any conceivable stretch of the imagination, things are probably more transparent here now than at any previous time in the city's history.

    And only in San Francisco would someone like me, who's been here a mere 26 years, having moved here as an adult, be able to think of himself as virtually a native.

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