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.

Kimberly Chua

Kimberly is currently a journalism major and business minor at San Francisco State University. Come May 2010, she will be moving on to bigger and better things, i.e. living and breathing journalism, not...

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18 Comments

  1. Excellent article. One point of clarification: I have never voted to shut down Medjool’s roof deck. The Planning Department has repeatedly assured the Board of Appeals that for so long as the owner of Medjool is pursuing a Conditional Use Permit, the Department would not take action to enforce the Notice of Violation. But the Medjool situation is troubling to me: the roof deck has been operating for years, with significant neighborhood impacts, without a permit. Is this a case of a politically-connected business owner getting special treatment while the neighbors are ignored? I don’t know, but it certainly has that appearance. And so I have believed that it is important for the Board of Appeals to apply pressure to ensure that Medjool pursues the Conditional Use application diligently and that the neighbors have an opportunity to voice their concerns and have the City impose reasonable mitigation (a sound wall, perhaps a somewhat smaller foot print for the deck, etc.). Unfortunately, a majority of my colleagues on the Board of Appeals have disagreed, and the Notice of Violation has been continued indefinitely, thus depriving the City of its only leverage to assure that Medjool moves promptly and responsively through the process.

  2. I live in District 8 and I’m supporting Rafael Mandelman, still waiting for a window sign.

    Within the City, at this point, my biggest concerns are:

    1) Defending public transportation, to make the air breathable and the City livable, and for the sake of global justice, i.e., opposing the resource war and depletion behind the manufacture of individual vehicles and everything it takes to keep them on the road, including electricity for the electric cars so many see as a solution, http://tinyurl.com/lq68qa

    2) Bringing the shadowy bureaucracy of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency under the control of our elected Board of Supervisors, so that we can have some kind of dialogue with elected reps about what “development” or “redevelopment” is supposed to mean here, most of all in Districts #6 and #10, the mega developers prime targets. I hope that Rafael Mandelman is in conversation with sitting Supes and other candidates, especially progressives in #2 and #10, about this. I believe that Chris Daly and Matt Gonzalez entertained this idea ten years ago, but a majority supporting it has never existed on the Board.

    The best next cut to make in the City budget, which is obviously going to have to be cut again, would not be more nurses, transportation, or other human services, but 90% of the Redevelopment Agency staff, the other 10% of which should then respond to the Board.

  3. Please excuse my error there, saying that Districts #2 and #10 are the mega developers’ prime targets. I mean to say Districts #6 and #10.

  4. Rafael, sorry I think it was a wording choice on my part, but thank you for your clarification and input.

  5. Thank you, Rafael, for your extra explanation. You have shown you really understand the nuances of controversial planning issues in D8, and can equitably apply and amend our rules accordingly!

  6. Nice article, Kimberly! I’ll be contributing a piece on this forum in the Castro Courier’s March edition. Keep an eye out for it. Hurray for hyper-local news! 🙂

  7. In response to Rafael Mandelman’s comment above:

    If the Medjool restaurant is, as he suggests may be the case, “a politically-connected business owner getting special treatment while the neighbors are ignored,” the correct solution is not to impose new political headaches on this business, as Rafael unfortunately appears to advocate, but rather to make sure that neighboring businesses have no less freedom than Medjool to operate.

    Government planning, in general, is driving small businesses in SF into the ground. According to a Jan. 24 article in the San Francisco Examiner,

    “Last year, San Francisco lost more than 9,899 businesses compared with 6,100 in 2008, according to San Francisco’s Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector.”

    How many of those businesses might still be open and providing jobs for San Francisco residents, if they weren’t forced to buy as many expensive permits, weren’t forced to charge customers a local sales tax, weren’t forced to waste so much valuable time complying with city regulations, attending city hearings, etc.?

    Isn’t it time for a different approach? Let’s try freedom!

  8. 1. Complaining about political connections in SF, that is rich, as the progressives on the board are owned by the public employee unions its comical to single out the guy who owns some bar.

    2. If you don’t like cars, don’t own one. It’s tiresome to have the supposed free and easy “progressives” in this city complain about how persecuted they are turn around and jamb their agenda down us normal people’s throats.

    3. Here’s what kind of government we should have in the city, one that leaves the subjects alone. I know that the authoritarian left in this city is doing things for our own good and we should love the heel grinding down on us, but maybe a supervisor who puts people ahead of authoritarianism and special interest, be it downtown or “community based.” A real liberal for a change.

  9. I wish I could give Starchild a thumbs up, instead of trying to control every aspect of business and the lives of citizens maybe the city could try leaving people alone to their own devices and stop looking from problems that don’t exist, to fix.

    The bar (which I have never been to and will never go to) has done more for the city by employing at least one person than an army of progressive activists.

  10. just to clarify my comment:

    I am unfamiliar with the records of any of the candidates. When generalizing my take away, I was speaking to the style, technique, and word/phrase choices used in the presentation, leading me to impression. I could not really say what any of them would actually do in office. Same goes for the idea of extremity, I think it would be hard to be “extreme” in this city, but I felt that the presentatons of the others were extreme in the sense that they had less opular resonance. Here, briefly, is my take on each candidates platform (based solely on this debate, all were actually interesting to listen to:
    Starchild: Autonomous, Idealistic Freedom
    Rafael: Emotional Appeal
    James Boeger: Honest Confusion
    Laura Spanjian: “The Poitician”
    Scott Weiner: “The Proven Guy”
    Bill Hemenger: “The Businessman”
    REbecca Prozan: “The Moderate”

  11. I live in Dist 8 and will be sad to see Dufty go (unless it’s to the mayor’s office). He did an excellent job of representing all the Dist 8. While it’s too early to tell who’ll get my vote, Chris Daly’s endorsement guarantees who won’t get it.

  12. Lay off 90% of the redevelopment staff? I hope none of the candidates heed that call. the rda is the largest funder and creator of affordable housing in the city, by an order of magnitude! yes, decades ago the agency did some devastating things to the city and the poor, but that was a different agency. any progressive agenda must continue to support the powers of redevelopment to ensure housing for the most poor and the most destitute. The majority of new open space and parks in the city have also been built by the RDA. as an affordable housing advocate, i would never vote for a candidate that called for doing away with this important agency.

  13. I’d like to know when and where the next forum is scheduled
    Which candidates are moderate ?
    I know that Mandelman and Weiner are the machine candidates
    Are there independent candidates ?
    I’d love to find out which candidates would have voted to subsidize the LGBT Center and make their mortgage payments and which wouldn’t have voted for it

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