Matt Dorsey supports the 2011 mayoral campaign of his then-boss, Dennis Herrera

Shortly after 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, just a few days before the election, Montana native and Potrero neighbor Margel Kaufman is trying her best to support her candidate in the Mission. Holding a sign in her hands, she says proudly, “Dennis is my guy.”

Nearby, at the 24th Street Mission BART station, her guy — San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera — tries to shake hands with potential voters. Not many stop to talk. The best he gets is a smile, and even some of those politely refuse the brochures. Others just keep walking.

Herrera, looking elegant in a gray suit, white shirt and maroon tie, is a lot more awake than either the BART passengers — many with coffee in hand — or the plaza denizens, who drink beer while trying to get involved in the campaign in their own way.

“Vote for me!” says one, defiantly.

“Good morning, I’m Dennis Herrera,” Herrera continues.

Dennis Herrera tries not to be distracted by the corner’s usual residents.

“I’m homeless,” the potential voter says.

“We’ll talk about it later,” Herrera replies sharply.

“At 8 a.m. we’ll go to the other side,” he tells Matt Dorsey, his press secretary.

“I’m homeless and you can´t do anything for me,” the potential voter repeats.

At 8 a.m., Herrera, an active advocate for affordable health care and same-sex marriage equality, leaves — or escapes, depending on your point of view — to the other side of Mission Street. He then returns, deciding that “this is a better spot.”

Indeed, it’s getting better. The sun is shining now, and more people are more willing to engage. Herrera relaxes. He smiles.

A blonde woman wearing a business suit and heels and carrying a Trader Joe’s bag wishes him good luck. “I will vote for you,” says a man minutes later. “Hey, thanks,” Herrera replies.

Three promotional posters have been leaned against the station wall. A child takes one of them down. Herrera and Dorsey look cordially at the child while he looks away, ashamed. A woman — his mother? — can´t stop laughing as she keeps walking, murmuring to the kid in Spanish.

With $1.5 million, according to the last data published by the Bay Citizen, Herrera is a leader in raising money, with his strongest support in the Marina, Mission Bay, Pacific Heights, Laurel Heights and Russian Hill. Despite his Latino roots — his father was a psychiatrist who emigrated from Colombia — his campaign hasn’t done particularly well raising money in the Mission.

However, he places himself second, behind John Avalos, in the race for the Latino vote. “Avalos is a good man, an honorable person,” he says of his opponent. “We have developed a friendship.”

After an hour, Herrera is ready to go and have a coffee. But he has to face one more question before leaving.

The candidate talks to Phil at Philz Coffee.

“If you had the money to repave one street, which one would it be?” asks a man in a tweed jacket.

“Uhm. Mission Street?”

The man smiles — clearly the candidate has passed the test.

“That was a great question!” Herrera says.

Later, on his way to Philz Coffee, he talks about modern campaigning and why people don’t engage with candidates anymore. “People have headphones now.”

Phil, however, doesn’t. So they talk, and the candidate enjoys the exchange, unperturbed by the Ed Lee posters in the window.

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Marta came from Zaragoza, Spain to master her English but everyone she speaks to wants to practice Spanish. After just a few months in the Mission, she already feels at home. In her free time she can be found reading books, watching movies, roller skating or just enjoying a good meal, an interesting conversation or a sunny walk around the neighborhood.

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1 Comment

  1. How about some love for Jeff Adachi? He was down on 17th and Valencia during rush hour today fielding voter questions.

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