December 1, 2003
San Franciscans and their close neighbors watched in horror as the rest of the state swept Arnold Schwarzenegger into the governor's office. The recall was opposed by 80 percent of San Francisco voters, and only 19 percent cast a vote for Schwarzenegger. The city now has the opportunity to make a political statement and set a new course for its future and that of politicians throughout the country. The San Francisco mayoral runoff election takes place on Tuesday, December 9, and will serve as a test case for any possibility of change vs. the likelihood of status quo in American politics. In the running are two diametrically-opposed personas: Green Party candidate Matt Gonzalez and Democrat Gavin Newsom.
Matt Gonzalez, 38, is a Stanford-educated attorney who served 10 years as a San Francisco public defender. In 2000 he left the Democrat party for the Green and was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (of which he is now the president), becoming the first Green Party member elected to office in the city. He has been an advocate for affordable housing, police accountability, environmental protections, and the arts. Gonzalez want to raise SF minimum wage, eliminate debt financing for public works projects, and raise the real estate transfer tax on properties valued over $2 million. He is bright and articulate, and appeals to the younger and bohemian side of San Francisco. Gonzalez's endorsers include Supervisor Tom Ammiano -- previous Board president, Peter Camejo, Michael Moore, Arcata mayor Bob Ornelas, and the Sierra Club.
Gavin Newsom is a 35-year old multimillionaire who was raised in a political family among California politicians and Getty wealth (billionaire Gordon P. Getty is an investor in most of Newsom's business ventures.) Newsom was appointed President of San Francisco's Parking and Traffic Commission in 1996, and then appointed by outgoing Mayor Willie Brown to fill a vacant seat on the Board of Supervisors (to which he has been since elected.) "As a business person who has created jobs, met a payroll and balanced the books, I am uniquely qualified to meet the new fiscal crisis," says Newsom. Newsom's endorsers include US Senator Dianne Feinstein, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, State Senator Jackie Speier and Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, whose Board seat Newsom filled -- all full-fledged members of the same old, same old story.
Current polls show 52% support for Matt Gonzalez and 45% for Gavin Newsom. If San Francisco chooses political insider and multimillionaire Newsom as mayor, she may as well have opened her arms to Arnold, and we can simply hand the 2004 reelection of Bush as status quo will be the real winner.
Support Matt Gonzalez in his run for mayor of San Francisco on December 7.
· · · · · ·
San Francisco Chronicle's profile of Matt Gonzalez
The Green Party
San Francisco Chronicle's profile of Gavin Newsom
The Greens on Swans
Jan Baughman on Swans (with bio).
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