10 a.m. – Avalos Headquarters
Volunteers and organizers scramble to ensure that the more than 35 registered “Everywhere for Avalos” events across the city will begin smoothly.
The Avalos Bike Ride (without the candidate) will depart shortly, and volunteers are threading Avalos signage between bike spokes to spruce them up for the ride around the city.
Nate Miller, Avalos’ field organizer, sorts the street volunteers who walk through the door.
In front of him stand four students from John O’Connell High School on an assignment for an American democracy class. They could have picked any candidate, they say, but Avalos spoke at their school in September, and they liked him.
Miller asks if any Mission streets make them uncomfortable.
He hands them a campaign kit of flyers and posters and sends them to Bryant Street.
Avalos pedals in at 10:30 a.m. on a spiffy bike, wearing denim jeans and a light purple short-sleeved, collared shirt. He greets volunteers and reviews the day’s schedule of events.
Avalos jumps into the passenger seat of a volunteer’s Suzuki Swift to ride to the morning’s first stop, in Bayview, a district with one of the city’s lowest turnout rates.
“We’re kind of ragtag,” says Avalos, “but we’re everyday people.”
At Third Street and Jerrold Avenue in Bayview, the volunteer pulls over and Avalos gets out to catch up with the community Unity March proceeding up Third. The district, split three ways between black, Hispanic and Asian voters, elected Malia Cohen, an African American, earlier this year.
Looking a bit uneasy, Avalos steps in line with the two dozen others and softly joins them in “We Shall Overcome.”
Marchers peer back and recognize the candidate. There are smiles, exclamations. “I’m glad you came out for the people!” one woman shouts. A baby soon appears on Avalos’ shoulders.
As they walk, the singing shifts to shouting.
“What do we want?”
“Our community back!”
Utuma Belfrey, a local resident who organized the event, says she wanted to bring Minister Keevin O’Brien, a leader of the march, together with Avalos, because they are both sincere, “and it felt like match.”
It is — until the march ends and Avalos strays over to a volunteer table at the corner of Third and Palou.
“Get the —- out of here, Avalos…. This is my block,” a man screams, and then takes verbal aim at the African American volunteers. It’s time to go, Avalos says.
In the car, Avalos says he isn’t surprised that some residents are contemptuous of any political figure in their neighborhood — there have been too many years of politicians promising services but failing to deliver.
“There is a plan on paper, but no reality. People feel burned,” he says.
The Avalosmobile turns toward Bernal Heights and “Bernal Barks for Avalos!” at Cortland Avenue and Andover Street.
Volunteers man the lemonade, cookie and dog biscuit table, handing out signs. No, Galen Mahoney says. He can’t take another sign.
“I don’t have any light in my windows because I support him so much,” he says.
On the way back to the Mission, Avalos leaves a message on an aide’s phone — he thought he was too hard on her earlier that morning.
On Mission Street he jumps out of the car to grab a burrito at La Taqueria before heading to meet the “Lowrider Caravan 4 Avalos” nearby on Florida Street.
A neighbor, Jonathan Lemon, who sees the lowriders and Avalos idling below, comes out to grab a photo of Avalos holding his 11-week-old baby, Santiago.
Lemon suggests that Avalos has his vote as long as no one else arrives with hotrods.
A friend of the organizer meets Avalos and does a double-take. It is the John Avalos.
Avalos laughs, “I’m not dressed for the part.”
“It’s cool, you’re one of us.”
With Avalos in the back seat of the lead car — an early-’50s black Chevrolet with the top down — a cacophonous medley of decibel-crunching hip-hop, hydraulic axle-bouncing and crowd cheering cruises through the Haight, Castro and Mission districts. Avalos waves while bystanders smile, cheer and take photos, if not for Avalos then for the spectacle of lowriders.
“I’m out here today because I just want Mission Street fixed,” says Mario Jimenez, a member of the caravan driving a red ’65 Super Sport. “I would love to show you all the potholes.”
The candidate smiles. Potholes will be filled. Avalos, who as District 11 supervisor serves on the City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee, also wants Mission Street lined with trees and art spaces, “not for the wealthy, but for the everyday people.”
Jimenez seems sold.
The Chevrolet parks alongside Dolores Park for a pit stop, and Avalos joins the Dolores Park Dance Party to cheers and smiles. He dances well.
At a walking meet-and-greet around the park, Jason Anderholm says he told Avalos that he is “sick of the homeless, sick of the drugs.”
According to Anderholm, Avalos “just stood up and walked away.”
When I ask Avalos about the encounter later, he says he will work hard to combat homelessness, but not to simply get rid of “homeless people.”
After a van teeming with Luchadores 4 Avalos — masked men dressed like the popular Mexican wrestlers — escort a ride through the Castro, there’s a stop for a beer at a triple-birthday party in support of Avalos in the Panhandle. Then it’s back to the Mission for the volunteers to party and celebrate the day’s success.
The campaign headquarters fills with volunteers drinking beer and singing karaoke while Avalos takes a breather before heading to a fundraiser at a nearby restaurant.
Avalos takes it all in stride. “This is not a big day, this is every day,” he said earlier in the day.
“We’re like the little campaign that has.