The race for District 9 Supervisor is in its final months, and along the main corridor of the Mission District, storefronts are brandishing their allegiances. One market facade displays a sign for David Campos, while the taqueria next door promotes Mark Sanchez. A sign for Eric Quezada is taped beside an advertisement for international calling cards. Eva Royale and Eric Storey have their storefronts too.

If window signs measure popularity, District 9 is up for grabs.

Candidate Sanchez, now president of the Board of Education, was hoping to change that Wednesday night by hosting a party at a Mission District music club.

Competing against five others for the seat, including a police commissioner and several progressive activists, Sanchez is widely viewed as one of the standouts in the crowded race, endorsed by the Sierra Club and the San Francisco teachers’ union. He is the only one to hold elected office and one of just two to live in the Mission District rather than the more affluent Portola and Bernal Heights neighborhoods.

But at the recent weeknight fundraiser, the signs of a promising campaign were nowhere to be found.

An hour into the event at El Rio, the South Mission bar, a jazz quartet played bebop in a side room empty but for a woman sitting on the edge of the stage. A couple of Mark Sanchez signs leaning against a wall was the only hint that this was not an after-hours jam session.

“Not a lot of people here,” said Luis Barahona, smoking a cigarette on the back patio. He supports Sanchez’s progressive politics, but lives in another district.

“My son’s in the band,” said an older man with red cheeks sharing the patio. “It’s my birthday,” he continued, as a way of apologizing for not knowing the band’s name.

Several jazz standards later, the candidate showed up and so did a handful of friends and supporters. Just as many, perhaps, as jazz fans from the front bar who heard that the famed bassist, Marcus Shelby, was part of the band.

No one collected money at the fundraiser, and merely a handful of curious voters showed up. But as admirers approached Shelby after his set to praise his style, they may have noticed the basket of Mark Sanchez pins along the way.

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Founder/Executive Editor. I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born and raised. Like many local news outlets, The Tribune no longer exists. I left daily newspapers after working at The New York Times for the business, foreign and city desks. Lucky for all of us, it is still there.

As an old friend once pointed out, local has long been in my bones. My Master’s Project at Columbia, later published in New York Magazine, was on New York City’s experiment in community boards.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how you make that long-held interest in local news sustainable. The answer continues to elude me.

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