With more than eight months until five Board of Supervisor seats are up for grabs, candidates are wasting no time letting constituents know where they stand.
The seven District 8 candidates squared off Monday night at the Harvey Milk Recreational Arts Center, addressing predetermined questions before fielding others from the audience.
The five questions sent in advance to the candidates revolved around housing, neighborhood character, business, safety and the balance between city and neighborhood issues in District 8, an area that encompasses the Castro, Noe Valley and part of the Mission.
Candidate Rafael Mandelman may be more familiar to Mission residents and frequenters alike as the Board of Appeals’ strongest opposition to extending Medjool’s time to obtain a conditional use permit for its popular roof deck bar. But he used his experience as a commissioner to emphasize his commitment to community.
“One of the things I’ve taken seriously on that board is my role as someone who looks to ensure that it serves a community’s interest, and not the other way around,” Mandelman said. “Development really needs to serve us and our values.”
Candidate Rebecca Prozan, assistant district attorney, said late in the evening she’s against San Francisco Municipal Transportation’s proposal to extend parking meter hours on weeknights, and while she’s in favor of extending it on Sundays, she knows there is room for improvement.
“It’s such a cat and mouse game,” Prozan said about the proposal. “What you have is all the transportation people who say if you just reduce traffic then people take public transportation more, but then public transportation’s unreliable so it just goes around and around and around.”
Candidate William Hemenger, of Oracle USA, while opposed to the plan entirely, had a similar view.
“If the purpose is just to discourage drivers, I don’t think the trade-off is worth it,” Hemenger said. “The economics of it just don’t make sense.”
One District 8 resident in attendance, Joe Titi, said the biggest issues to for him is “retaining the equality in the neighborhood and retaining the uniqueness of the neighborhood.”
As the owner of Artist’s Gallery on 18th Street, he added, “From the merchants’ standpoint, we’re concerned about vacant storefronts and bringing more people into the area to shop.”
While Titi said he had his favorites among the candidates, he felt it was too soon and inappropriate to reveal his pick.
Another District 8 resident, Rory Bartle, said he didn’t have too many concerns about the neighborhood but did give his take on the candidates.
“Scott Wiener’s like the proven guy and Rebecca Prozan’s like the moderate candidate who’s kind of in the middle,” Bartle said. “Everyone else is a little too extreme.”
The results of this election can dramatically change the makeup of the board, as four of the seats in contention are currently held by two moderate seat and two swing-vote seats.
Current District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty — a swing-vote — has not officially endorsed any of the candidates.
District 6 Supervisor Chris Daly — a progressive whose own seat is up for election this year — told Mission Loc@l last month that his goal is to get more progressive candidates elected.
“Rafael Mandelman has already distinguished himself as the clear progressive choice in District 8,” Daly wrote in an e-mail Monday night. “He’s not only strong on critical issues like tenant rights, he’s ready to get to work with the Board of Supervisors turning San Francisco around.”
Other District 8 candidates include Scott Wiener, a deputy city attorney; Laura Spanjian, an assistant general managar at the Public Utilities Commission; James Boeger, a therapist, and Starchild, an exotic dancer and sex worker.
Districts 2, 6, 8 and 10 are up for election, while District 4 Supervisor Carmen Chu is currently running unopposed for re-election.
Correction: An earlier version of this story suggested that Supervisor Bevan Dufty endorsed two candidates, Laura Spanjian and Scott Wiener, according to a May 13, 2009 Examiner story that has since been removed. A follow-up story ran the following day and Dufty has not officially endorsed anyone for the District 8 race.