Forty adults, five children, and a teenage moderator gathered at the Mission Recreation Center Tuesday night to hear District 9 supervisor candidates answer questions on child care, violence prevention and housing. The root of many of these problems, according to the supervisors, is the lack of opportunities.
“Jobs, jobs, jobs,” said Eric Storey, a stay-at-home dad and City College student. He said the city should create incentives for businesses to return to San Francisco, but failed to specify how the city would do so.
The six other candidates—David Campos, Vern Mathews, Eric Quezada, Mark Sanchez, and Tom Valtin—agreed the next supervisor needs to find ways to keep families in the Mission.
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Mathews, a handyman, said the city needs to help families in which one parent chooses to stay home and take care of the children. Speaking about his own family, he said, “we chose to raise our kids by sacrificing instead of both working.”
Campos, police commissioner and attorney, disagreed.
“Many people have no choice, at times you even have to get a second job,” he said. Because they earned minimum wage, Campos said, both his parents had to work.
“The government has to play a role in providing a solution,” Campos added specifying that the city budget should allocate a permanent source of funding for childcare.
After the debate, Mason Jeffreys, a volunteer in charge of timekeeping, said “That Vern dude….way out of touch. People in the back were groaning.”
Quezada, director of Dolores Street Community Services, said child care programs offer one way to reduce the achievement gap that Latino and African American youth are experiencing.
In the audience, Marisol and Juan Ramon Recinos watched their teenage daughter, Josselyn Recinos, a student at the Bay School of San Francisco and a member of the San Francisco Youth Commission, moderate the debate. The couple recently became citizens and will vote in their first U.S. election on Nov.4. They’re concerned about affordable housing, education and child care.
Mr. Recinos said that Quezada’s experience defending rent control meant he would have the best answers for families facing an eviction. On the other hand, Mr. Recinos said, Campos gave a better answer to the issue of childcare and he related well to families in which both parents work.
Sanchez, president of the San Francisco Board of Education, and Quezada brought up the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan—a rezoning plan under consideration by the city—stressing that affordable housing was necessary. Quezada went further by saying that a stabilization fund should be established to help families access housing under the new plan.
Royale, a community organizer and director of the Cesar Chavez Holiday Committee, left a half-hour before the end of the debate because of another engagement, but Mrs. Recinos didn’t seem to mind.
“I liked Eva Royale because I identify with her as a woman and I have the feeling that women follow through more on their promises,” Mrs. Recinos said.
Mr. Recinos liked Royale and Campos more because “they went straight to the point” when asked a question.
On the issue of violence, the candidates agreed that the root cause is a lack of opportunities for youth. They pointed to partnerships with community organizations and recreational programs.
Mathews added that the problem was largely due to too many guns. He believes the city should focus on “violence suppression” and prosecute for gun possession more forcefully.
Reflecting on the debate, Josselyn Recinos, the teenage moderator, was happy that the candidates spoke of programs to keep youth off the streets.
“We’re the future,” she said.