Lusty Activist Is New Campos Aide

David Campos' new aide Stephany Ashley at St. James Infirmary, a clinic that provides services to sex workers.

David Campos' new aide Stephany Ashley at St. James Infirmary, a clinic that provides services to sex workers.

Activist Stephany Ashley now commutes from the Mission District to City Hall as Supervisor David Campos’ new legislative aide.

For the next six months, while Campos’ longtime aide Hillary Ronen is on maternity leave, Ashley will bring her public health advocacy to the Campos team. She was most recently the program director for St. James Infirmary, a clinic that offers free, confidential medical and social services to sex workers, working on HIV prevention and harm reduction.

Ashley will focus on health care, homelessness, labor and public safety. Projects include opening a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender homeless shelter; continuing violence prevention; and dealing with the pro-life protesters at the Planned Parenthood clinic in the Mission.

A Mission resident since moving to San Francisco seven years ago, the UC Santa Cruz graduate finds the neighborhood a great home for activism. “You see more movements intersecting in the Mission than in a lot of other neighborhoods,” she said. “It just has a legacy of activism … and secret pockets of radical history are everywhere.”

A seasoned political operative at the age of 27, Ashley has an eclectic and colorful resume that has shaped her approach to helping underserved populations in the city.

“Stephany’s years directly working with at-risk and often marginalized communities is allowing us to think about solutions in different ways and will hopefully lead to us connecting more people with more resources,” said Nate Allbee, Campos’ other legislative aide. Allbee has known Ashley for years, having first worked with her on Rafael Mandelman’s 2010 campaign for District 8 supervisor.

Ashley is a former president and current board member of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club. Tom Temprano, who worked with her on John Avalos’ mayoral campaign, remembers, “Everyone kept talking to me about the force of nature that was the current Milk Club president.”

Now that Ashley is working for Campos, Temprano believes that her “background as a community organizer will help to ensure that [the neighborhood’s most vulnerable] voices are heard at City Hall.”

Ashley has also worked as a dancer at the Lusty Lady, a unionized, cooperative peep show, which introduced her to sex worker activism. She said she hopes to offer a nuanced perspective when working with Mission residents on the issue of prostitution and its impact on street life.

“There are many ways to deal with trash and noise that do not necessitate criminalization,” she said. “There are also larger issues, like housing and employment opportunities and connecting people to services, which I believe can be effectively addressed from a community-based model.”

Gregory Dicum, a resident and member of the Central Mission Neighborhood Watch, has been very active in the fight against prostitution in the neighborhood, and more specifically against the trash, danger and nighttime noise it creates on Capp and Shotwell streets. He spoke with Ashley when she was still working at the St. James Infirmary about how best to deal with the issue.

“At that time we found ourselves on different sides of the issue, and I was impressed with her ability to remain true to the cause she was working with while also being a reasonable person. I think that’s a very good quality,” Dicum said.

Ashley’s public health advocacy includes work at the now-defunct Tenderloin Aids Research Center and on the steering committee of the Coalition to Save Public Health, fighting former Mayor Gavin Newsom’s budget cuts, which exposed her to the “nitty gritty of city politics.”

“Once you get involved in campaigns you kind of can’t really stop,” she said. But she doesn’t see herself becoming a politician. “I like community organizing, but I have no desire to run for office.”

Ashley jokes about leaving politics behind to write a novel, but adds that is unlikely because “there is always something worth fighting for.”

“It’s such a community of activists here in the city, once you build those relationships it becomes very hard to say no, and why would you want to? There is always another very worthy fight.”

 

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17 Comments

  1. shotwellresident

    Your headline has the humor–if you can call it that–of an eighth grader. To the rest of us (adults), it’s offensive. Can you please change it immediately? It’s totally cringe-inducing.

  2. Daniel Leffler

    No prob with legalized prostitution but when it’s on my street (Shotwell) it brings lots of used condoms, trash, johns, pimps, sirens (if you’re lucky), noise and all sorts of crime.
    Why do we have to create these stupid so-called battles in SF?
    Is this seriously a debate?
    There is a time and a place for prostitution – at least there’s a place – that’s in a properly zoned building like everything else that goes on in SF – from hair salons to cannabis clubs. No offense to any of the hard working men or women out there (of the day or evening) but why is this an issue now?

    • The prostituion occuring on your street is NOT legalized prostitution. Complaining that making prostution legal would result in more “pimps” and “condoms on the street” is mind bogglingly idiotic.

      • Andy

        Nobody thinks prostitution on Shotwell, Capp, SVN, etc. is legal. Go back and read the comment more carefully and you’ll understand the intent and the frustration.

        Make it legal, require licensing and mandatory health test (paid for by those engaging in the work as a cost of doing business), zone it, tax it, take it out of the shadows and off neighborhood streets, great.

        Allow disrespectful pimps, hookers and johns who don’t live here to come set up shop every night, not acceptable.

  3. Jay

    Ashley will be a good addition to the Campos team. She’s very smart and very motivated.

  4. randolph mortimer

    I’m all for public health advocacy, but crime is where Campos desperately needs help.

  5. Dave

    Yet another mention about prostitution and no mention about South Van Ness Ave. Is there a reason for this?

  6. Dave

    South Van Ness is ignored when it comes to traffic calming and the prostitution problem. Is anybody listening?

  7. nh

    Dave, I hear you loud and clear on the prostitution on SVN. Andy is a huge help on these issues. Please join up with us on nextdoor site.

  8. N. Santiago

    Everyone has a voice, including prostitutes. However, Campos could have chosen someone with experience dealing with the violent crimes that plague our neighborhood. It frightens me that nearly every article I read the average age of a shooting victims is 19 years old. Save our kids before saving our prostitutes. Secondly, I would keep experience as an employee at the Lusty Lady to herself on the “down low”. I hate to be a square but, there is an appropriate time and a place for disclosing that information, and trying to convince the community that she is the best choice is not it. I am not surprised by Campos’s reckless choice. I hope she proves me wrong.

    • Joe

      Amen. Campos is blind to the real issues of the Mission, crime, trash – quality of life. You just don’t live it when your home is in Bernal. The only connection he has with the Mission is his latino heritage – he hasn’t a clue what residents face on a daily and nightly basis. Appointing a sex worker advocate to the job illustrates this massive blind spot.

  9. N. Santiago

    Everyone has a voice, including prostitutes. However, Campos could have chosen someone with experience dealing with the violent crimes that plague our neighborhood. It frightens me that nearly every article I read the average age of a shooting victim is 19 years old. Save our kids before saving our prostitutes. Secondly, I would keep her employment at the Lusty Lady on the “down low.” I hate to be a square but, there is an appropriate time and a place for disclosing such information. Trying to convince the community that she is the best choice is not it. I am not surprised by Campos’s reckless choice. I hope she proves me wrong.

  10. meatsack

    What?

    Although I am pro choice(realy pro abortion) I wonder what the problem is with the pro life idiots on Mission is?

    They are exercising their rights just like any annoying and stupid liberal that Campos loves. When did our “progressives” send someone to keep an eye on rioting BART nut cases?

    Maybe we need a Campos aide to keep an eye on the weather?

  11. bob

    Only Campos would hire a “lusty” pro-prostitution legislative aid. This article could have been written by the Onion. Too bad the joke is on us!

Comments are closed.