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November 2011 Endorsements

The Green Party has endorsed the following candidates and propositions:

Mayor:

#1 choice - Terry Baum.  The Green Party made an early endorsement of Terry Joan Baum for Mayor.  She's most in line with our values, and is a clear first choice for Greens.

#2 choice - John Avalos.

#3 choice - Jeff Adachi.

Sheriff - Ross Mirkarimi (sole endorsement)

DA - David Onek (sole endorsement).  However, we encourage Greens to rank 3 choices in this contest, in order to be sure George Gascon is not elected.

no consensus on A
NO on B
NO on C
NO on D
NO on E
NO on F
no consensus on G
NO on H

You can read the full Voter Guide (PDF file), including articles by Greens, by clicking on the image below:

 

 

Endorsement statements from our Voter Guide:

Mayor
#1 - Terry Baum
#2 - John Avalos
#3 - Jeff Adachi

Terry Joan Baum first got involved in electoral politics in 1970 in New York, as the personal assistant to the legendary Bella Abzug, in Bella's first run for Congress.  Bella's passion for social justice inspired Terry to become a feminist activist and later a gay rights activist.  A pioneer lesbian playwright, Terry's plays explore important social issues such as gay rights, immigration, medical ethics and anti-Semitism.  ("Immediate Family", a play about gay marriage, was performed as an organizing tool in Philadelphia and Boise, when there were anti-gay initiatives on the ballot.)  Since moving to San Francisco in 1977, Terry has immersed herself in theater and progressive politics.  She is a long-time Green Party activist, and was the Green candidate for Congress in 2004.  In that race, she became the first 3rd party candidate to qualify for the ballot as a write-in candidate since the Black Panthers did it in 1968.

Terry Baum entered the Mayor's race in order to give San Franciscans an alternative to the one-party rule offered by the Democrats. Despite substantial policy differences between the progressive and conservative wings of the Democratic Party, few Democratic politicians are willing to rock the boat--just look at the Board of Supervisors' unanimous votes for terrible decisions such as Prop C's attack on the middle class, the Central Subway boondoggle, and giveaways to the Police Department as examples.  One party rule has failed in countries from North Korea and the USSR to Egypt, and it can't work here. Outrageous city contracts go to the politically-connected, who make the right "donations" or pay off well-connected consultants in seemingly endless back-room deals.  Green Party candidates like Terry Baum give voters an opportunity to show their support for an alternative type of politics, and to help build a viable alternative at higher levels of government.

Terry's platform includes fresh ideas that Democrats have been afraid to touch: improving City revenues by starting a municipal bank, starting a movement of California Mayors to reform state law to empower cities to tax themselves, and a citywide moratorium on new market rate housing.  She also wants to create a Green New Deal: taking over local energy production from PG&E, and creating thousands of new jobs installing electricity generation from renewable sources like solar and wind, while phasing out our dependence on fossil and nuclear fuels.  Speaking of PG&E, Terry is the only candidate who has called for criminal charges to be filed against PG&E executives for their negligence in accidents such as the San Bruno explosion.  Terry also focuses on Muni--with energy shocks and high gas prices expected in our future, we need to make Muni "magnificent" by investing money in faster and reliable service, as well as in beautifying the buses, trains, and stations and making it enjoyable to ride.

Even before the race has finished, Terry's strong showing in debates has had a positive impact.  Although ideas such as a municipal bank and a local income tax were once off limits to "serious" candidates, most of her Democratic Party competitors have started to pay these ideas lip service once Terry brought them up in debates.  The idea of actually making Muni something that people WANT to ride by adding art to the stations and vehicles was also considered to be fringe, until conservative Democrats lifted the idea from Terry's platform.

John Avalos has earned our #2 endorsement, due to his strong record of progressive politics and his history of working with Green Party members and listening to our ideas.  He has a great deal of support among Green Party members, and is considered less of a long shot to actually win the race than Terry Baum.  If elected, he will collaborate closely with Greens and Union members in developing City policy.

Avalos agrees with the Green Party on many key issues.  He was one of only a few Democrats who opposed the Lennar development project, a giveaway of City money to a developer with deep Democratic Party ties, as well as a health hazard for nearby residents.  He has very strong environmental credentials, including pushing the idea of restoring the budget-busting Sharp Golf Course to wetlands.  He has a strong civil rights record, opposing City cooperation with ICE while supporting a municipal boycott of Arizona due to its racist profiling of immigrants.  He also agrees with the Green Party on strategies for increasing City revenue, such as Public Power and creating a Municipal Bank.  His only policy weaknesses seem to be a result of his Democratic Party affiliation--he supports Prop C, and he played a key role in elevating David Chiu to the Board Presidency despite concerns about Chiu's political ties.

In addition to Avalos' agreement with us on most issues, he's a rare candidate who shows real personal integrity.  John earned his Master's degree at San Francisco State University, and his wife teaches in the San Francisco public schools, where his two children are students. John has served as a community organizer before becoming Chris Daly's legislative aide in 2005.  He was elected in 2008 to serve as Supervisor representing District 11.  Since joining the Board, he has championed important legislation, including a local hiring law, tenant protections, and a progressive real estate transfer tax to fund local services (a welcome alternative to the bonds usually pushed by Democrats).

Jeff Adachi is our #3 choice for Mayor. On many issues, he has a solidly progressive record: he has a long history of using his office as San Francisco's Public Defender to defend the rights of our poorest residents.  Unlike many City managers, he has taken political stances in opposition to the Mayor, including outspoken opposition to the "sit/lie" ban and other laws Mayor Newsom and the Democratic Party establishment championed in order to criminalize homeless people.  He also spoke out against the Mayor Newsom wasting money on a community courts boondoggle, which was a prop that Newsom used to reach higher office at the expense of SF's taxpayers and homeless residents.

Aside from his strong record on criminal justice and civil rights issues Adachi also agrees with the Green Party on many key issues.  He supports public power, police reform, mandatory local hiring, a chain store ban, business tax reform, and opposition to ICE and the PATRIOT act.  He has even promised to appoint Green Party members to serve in his administration.  Unlike many of the other candidates running, he has few ties to Democratic Party power brokers such as Willie Brown and Rose Pak, so we expect his administration would be less corrupt than its predecessors'.

What concerns Greens the most about Adachi (and which made his endorsement a close call) is his leadership in championing Prop D, along with an even worse version that voters rejected last year.  The Green Party strongly opposed the previous measure, just as we strongly oppose Props C and D on this year's ballot (see argument on Page 1). However, Adachi insists that he's motivated by a desire to protect important social services that SF provides, which tend to be cut as a result of budget shortfalls, rather than the motivations that have led to anti-union legislation in other states such as Wisconsin.  He also says he's supported all progressive taxes and revenue measures that have made it to the ballot in recent years, so he has not ignored the revenue side of the equation.  Despite our endorsement, Greens remain concerned about the way Adachi has placed the onus of solving the City's fiscal woes completely on its workers, rather than viewing retirement benefits as something that they've rightfully earned.  If Adachi is elected Mayor, we'd like to see him put at least as much effort into improving City revenues through progressive taxation.

Ranked Choice Strategy

It is extremely important for Greens to vote in this election, and to rank Terry Baum #1 on your ballot.  Everybody gets up to 3 choices in each contest.  A strong show of public support for Green ideas will help these ideas to become official policy, even if we do not win.  If your #1 vote for Terry is counted, and then transfers to another candidate who you rank #2, that candidate can get an idea of how much their agreement with Green ideas contributed to their vote total and may be inspired to work with us in the future.  However, your #2 and #3 votes are only counted if your #1 candidate is eliminated. Therefore, if you rank Terry behind a candidate who is ahead of her in the polls, your vote for Terry might never be counted.

Unfortunately, the City's implementation of ranked choice is flawed, in that voters are allowed to rank only their top 3 choices.  Even if you try to vote strategically, there is a very good chance of being disenfranchised, because there are many candidates polling at about the same level and it is unclear who will be the last candidates standing after others are eliminated.  Greens have pushed for the City to allow voters to rank ALL candidates on the ballot, especially since the debacle in the last District 10 supervisorial race, in which many voters expressed no preference between the final 2 candidates. However, no Democratic Party legislators have taken up the issue, even though the fix could be as simple as adding write-in lines for voters to rank their 4th and higher choices.

If you do care about choosing the "lesser evil" over the greater evil in the final decision, it is important to use your #3 choice to pick somebody who is the closest candidate to representing our values who might actually win.  Even though we might end up with yet another conservative Mayor, a winner who sees that a share of their votes were transfered from #1 votes for Terry Baum or #2 votes for John Avalos would have incentive to listen to our ideas in order to earn re-election in the future.

Sheriff
Ross Mirkarimi

Ross Mirkarimi is our sole endorsement for Sheriff.  Although he has joined the Democratic Party, Mirkarimi still reflects most Green values, and his status as a front-runner is a rare opportunity for progressives to win a city-wide election.

In the 1990s, Mirkarimi co-founded the Green Party of California. Mirkarimi has also played a role in many Green and progressive political campaigns, including Ralph Nader for President in 2000, Matt Gonzalez for Mayor in 2003, the MUD campaign for public power, and the successful Sunshine Initiative. As a private citizen, Mirkarimi helped lead several legislative efforts at City Hall, including the return of district elections, transgender rights, creation of the SF Department of the Environment, and demolition of the Central Freeway.

Ross has represented District 5 on the Board of Supervisors since 2004.  He's been particularly good on issues of public safety and crime prevention during his tenure in office, making him a natural fit for the office of Sheriff.  He pushed hard for improved community policing, and he comes to the scene of violent crimes that occur in his district, day or night. Ross also sponsored the first successful legislation mandating police foot patrols, and he spoke out strongly against "sit/lie."  He continues to promote Green ideas for criminal justice, such as restorative justice as an alternative to incarceration.


As Mike Hennessey's endorsed successor, Mirkarimi will be the only candidate who will take the sort of risky political stances that Hennessey was known for.  Of all the candidates, he has the best chance of standing up to ICE and President Obama's discriminatory "secure communities" program.  He is also the only candidate who will be able to enforce discipline in the Sheriff's office.  Unlike the SFPD, Sheriff's deputies have no civilian oversight, so it is important for the department to be run by a civilian who is not an insider hesitant to discipline his buddies.  Mirkarimi also wants to expand the role of the Sheriff's office in promoting public safety, by assigning some deputies to duties currently performed by police officers.  This will save the City money, and allow police to focus on the main duty they're currently neglecting: prevention of violent crimes.

District Attorney
David Onek

David Onek is our sole endorsement for District Attorney.  He is the only candidate in the race who (like the Green Party) has been unequivocally opposed to Death Penalty.  After the recent State-sponsored lynching of Troy Davis, a man who was most likely innocent, it should be hard for even Death Penalty supporters to defend the practice today.  Onek has been clear on this point from the beginning, while other candidates (particularly George Gascon) have not been as forthright.

Onek agrees with the Green Party on most other points related to criminal justice.  He opposes "3 strikes" except for violent offenders.  He supports police foot patrols, and opposed the ban on sitting on sidewalks.  Many Greens will be concerned about his support for giving Tasers to police--while supporters say the practice saves lives, evidence also shows "non-lethal" weapons lead to more instances of unjustified police brutality.  Despite this concern, Onek is clearly the candidate who is overall most aligned with our values.

We encourage Greens to rank 3 choices in this contest, in order to prevent George Gascon from being elected to a full term.  Gascon has stated that he may seek the Death Penalty in cases where a person is suspected of killing a police officer (e.g., the Troy Davis case).  He was appointed to his position by Mayor Newsom, and is an integral part of the Democratic Party machine, so he is unlikely to pursue cases of political corruption or crimes committed by politically connected criminals.  In addition, as former head of the SFPD, Gascon has a serious conflict of interest:  he is not likely to prosecute bad cops or go after misconduct within the police department.

Therefore, we encourage Greens to rank David Onek #1, and any other candidates besides Gascon as your second and third choices.

SF Green Party Statement on Bond Funding

The SF Green Party has often been hesitant to embrace bond financing. In addition to being environmentally and socially responsible, we are also fiscally responsible.  Bond funding requires payments totaling about twice the actual cost of whatever improvements are made, and passes costs on to future generations.  Because people who buy bonds are almost exclusively the wealthy, as investors are paid back over the 20-30 year life of the bond, wealth is transferred from middle and low income taxpayers to rich bondholders.

Bond funding also helps rich people avoid paying their fair share of taxes, since interest on municipal bonds is exempt from both state and federal tax.  As noted in the California Voter Guide in 1992, over 35,000 U.S. millionaires supplemented their income with tax exempt state and local bond checks averaging over $2,500 per week (that's over $130,000 per year tax free).  They avoided paying federal and state taxes on over $5 billion, which must be made up by the rest of us.  The SF Green Party calls on the public to join us in working to phase out this regressive and unfair subsidy of the rich and their investment bankers (who take millions of dollars off the top when the bonds are issued).

There are a few cases in which Greens have supported bond measures. In general, we are willing to support bonds that are issued to in order to build urgently needed, publicly-owned infrastructure, such as a public hospital or high speed rail.  We generally oppose bonds that fund ongoing maintenance projects; these should be paid for using City revenues (which should be increased by raising taxes on the wealthy).

Prop A
(School Bond)
no consensus

Prop A is a $531 million bond to help pay for renovation of our public schools.  It is the final phase of a 3-part project that started with the passage of a $295 million school bond in 2003, and continued with the passage of a $450 million bond in 2006.  Although many buildings have been retrofitted under the project, Prop A would provide funding to renovate the remaining classrooms and other facilities.

The SF Green Party did not reach consensus on whether to support or oppose this proposition.  Supporters point out that since 30% of SF kids attend private schools (3 times the national average, according to a 2006 Chronicle article), there is a need to invest in public education in order to make public schools more attractive and keep families in San Francisco.  They also argued for the necessity of public investment during an economic depression, and pointed out that the construction projects funded by the bonds will provide many local jobs and therefore improve our economy.  Opponents objected to the proposition because it is funded by bonds (see Statement on Bonds, above), and therefore many of the costs will be passed on to future generations, while further increasing the gap between the wealthy and the rest of us.  They argued that if the public supports bond financing for such projects, other alternative funding sources (such as a tax that would fall mainly on wealthy individuals) will never be tried, since the Democratic Party politicians who place these measures on the ballot usually rely on funding from wealthy donors and their corporations and do not want to antagonize them.  The Green Party supported a parcel tax to fund public schools in 2008, since this is a more progressive tax option than bonds.

Since we did not reach consensus, we urge individual Greens to weigh the arguments and make up your own mind on this issue.

Prop B
(Street Repair Bond)
NO

Prop B is a $248 million bond to pay for street repairs.  A small (but unspecified) amount of funding would go to build bike lanes, repair sidewalks, and install traffic signals that give priority to Muni buses.

The Green Party opposes this proposition, for several reasons.  First, it is bond-funded (see Statement on Bonds, above), and will therefore enrich the wealthy while the rest of us pay for the project.  Second, despite the greenwashing of throwing a few dollars towards important projects such as bike lanes and faster Muni, the vast majority of these funds will effectively be a public subsidy for private automobile drivers.  With the world currently at or near Peak Oil, we need huge public investments in public transit and sustainable energy (i.e., solar and wind), rather than continuing to subsidize our car-dependent fossil fuel-powered lifestyle.  For more information on Peak Oil, see the article on page 2 of our Voter Guide.

We strongly support more investment in sustainable modes of transit: sidewalks, bike lanes, and Muni all desperately need funding.  These projects should be funded via a vehicle license fee, a local tax on gasoline, or even better, a local Carbon tax.  The need for public investment in these areas is so great, we would even consider regressive measures such as bond financing.  However, since the vast majority of funding in Prop B would go to subsidize private cars instead, we urge Greens to vote NO.

 

Prop C
Prop D
(Class Warfare)
NO! on BOTH

Both Props C and D would require City employees to pay more towards their pensions, and also increase the retirement age for new employees.  There are differences in details: Prop C would require City employees making over $50,000/year to pay an additional 4-6% of their salaries into the pension fund (with higher earners paying more), and Prop D would require the same employees to pay an additional 5-8.5%.  Prop C would raise retirement ages by 3 years for new employees, and Prop D would raise retirement ages by 2 years for police and firefighters, 3 years for everybody else, and by 5 years for early retirees.  In addition, Prop C would require workers to pay more for their health care, as explained below; Prop D would not effect health care benefits.

The Green Party strongly opposes both proposals.  At a time when we are witnessing people rise up across the country to oppose corporate greed and the scapegoating of working people and Unions, Props C and D are going in the opposite and wrong direction.  Props C and D seek to balance the budget on the backs of public workers by increasing their pension contributions.  This translates into smaller paychecks for the workers and their families.  The pension and economic crises were created by Wall Street, not the public workers, and neither C nor D tries to fix this situation by taking anything from the banks, the corporations, or the wealthy.  San Francisco's pension fund was not underfunded by its workers--instead, City officials mismanaged the funds by investing them in Wall Street schemes they didn't understand, allowing City workers' money to be stolen by billionaire banksters.

Both C and D were financially backed by billionaires, and both were endorsed by the Republican Party (Prop C was also endorsed by the Democratic Party, Mayor Lee, and the entire Board of Supervisors). Both measures were drafted in back rooms with little to no input from Union members, workers, and retirees--a situation that has created multiple grassroots and rank-and-file campaigns against C and D. Although Prop C supporters claim it is supported by unions, rank-and-file members had no input into the proposal. In looking at financial projections, both C and D will have marginal differences in savings for the City, yet both significantly lower workers' paychecks. They are virtually equal in most long-term scenarios.

Unfortunately, Proposition C would also alter the balance of power at the Health Services Board to favor the City Government.  The HSB has been balanced over the years to make sure that decisions are made fairly.  This imbalance in power is expected by retiree groups to create serious cuts and program changes to the health benefits of retirees.  Numerous retiree groups are actively organizing against Prop C because of these negative changes.  Prop C also would require current employees to contribute 1% of their paycheck towards retiree health benefits.


Proposition D does not make any changes to health benefits or the HSB. It does not impose any pension changes to employees making less than $50,000/year.  It does impose larger contributions on higher-paid city workers such as managers, as well as to Police and Fire Dept workers who make well over $100,000/year.  Prop D would also impose a pension cap of $140,000/year.  While Prop D has some ideas that sound fair, we oppose Prop D because it would raise retirement ages for all workers, including the lowest paid.

It is important to note that these economic matters are normally negotiated with workers and their Unions directly through collective bargaining (think Battle of Wisconsin). If either Prop C or D pass, this will be a permanent change in pensions and benefits and paychecks to the public workers.  Even when the City's pension system regains full strength, workers will still be required to pay more for their retirement benefits, meaning lower take-home pay.

Supporting either Prop C or D is short-sighted, and not at all in keeping with our Key Value of Future Focus.  Collective bargaining by unions won us the benefits many take for granted: an 8 hour day, five day work week, sick days, health care, and retirement benefits. Weakening collective bargaining rights will help lead to a downward spiral for all workers, and further shrink the middle class.  On the other hand, maintaining a strong middle class will help grow our local economy and help us avoid some of the worst effects of the current economic Depression.

Vote NO on both Props C and D!  Protect retirees and all workers! Make the politicians have to go back to the table and tax the rich for once!  Enough is enough!

Prop E
(Supervisors Overturning Voter Initiatives)
NO

Prop E would give the Board of Supervisors the power to overturn certain voter-approved initiatives, after a number of years had passed.  After 3 years, a supermajority (2/3) of the Board of Supervisors could overturn an initiative, with the Mayor's approval. After 7 years, the Board and Mayor could overturn initiatives through the normal legislative process (i.e., by majority vote at the Board, subject to Mayoral veto).  Prop E would not affect initiatives placed on the ballot by gathering signatures; it would only affect future initiatives placed before the voters by the Board or Mayor.

The Green Party strongly opposes Prop E.  We support direct democracy--although it can sometimes be messy, it's better than the alternative of leaving all decisions up to elected officials, who can easily be corrupted by special interests.  Grassroots Democracy is in fact one of our 10 Key Values (see page 3 of our Voter Guide).  The problem that Prop E supposedly addresses, namely the need for repeal or modification of obsolete initiatives, could be solved without voters surrendering power to the legislators.  Legislators who write propositions can already insert language giving the Board (or anybody else) the power to change the law in the future; Prop F (see statement below in opposition) is just one example.

Prop F
(Rewrite of Ethics Rules)
NO

Prop F would supposedly strengthen our election ethics rules by requiring more transparency and disclosure by lobbyists.  However, buried in the text is language that would give the Board of Supervisors and Ethics Commission the power to completely rewrite the rules.

In 2000, progressives won the majority of seats on the Board of Supervisors.  For 8-10 years, the Board helped put the brakes on corrupt development contracts that had previously been rubber-stamped by the former Board, who Mayor Willie Brown affectionately called his "mistresses."  Since the 2010 elections, there is again near-unanimity among the Democrats who run City government (they now refer to themselves as the "City Family" rather than "mistresses"), and pay-to-play style politics are once again unchecked.  Given the current levels of corruption within City government, we do not trust either the Board or people appointed by citywide elected officials with the power to rewrite the Ethics laws.  It's true that our ethics rules are severely in need of reform.  However, voters need to approve any changes, rather than giving the power to the "City Family."  Prop F would be the equivalent of putting organized crime "families" in charge of rewriting US criminal code.


Prop G
(Sales Tax Increase)
no consensus

Prop G would increase the sales tax in San Francisco by a half cent per dollar (0.5%), for 10 years.  Half of the money raised would go towards the police and fire departments, and the other half would go toward services for seniors and children.

The Green Party did not reach consensus on either supporting or opposing this proposition.  Many Greens supported endorsing Prop G, because it would provide vital revenue for City services.  Even though much of the money would be sucked up by our bloated police and fire departments, these funds have already been negotiated away by the Mayor and Board, and therefore other services will need to be cut even further to fund the police and fire departments if Prop G does not pass.  However, many Greens opposed endorsing Prop G because sales taxes are regressive, falling disproportionately on the poor.  We need to be taxing the rich, not adding further burdens to the poor and middle class.  We should rewrite the business tax code to tax receipts instead of just payroll, while making sure that the majority of the tax burden falls on large, wealthy corporations such as PG&E and Bechtel.  Instead, the Democratic Party Board of Supervisors is only proposing further taxes on the middle class.

Prop H
(Segregated Schools)
NO

Prop H would not actually change current law; it's an advisory measure that asks the School Board to make proximity to a school the most important factor in deciding which public school children are assigned to.

The School Board recently adopted a new school assignment system that makes proximity to a school the second most important factor in school assignments.  Students who live in communities with worse schools (typically low-income communities) have the opportunity, if their parents want, to choose better schools that are further away.  After these students are assigned, other students who live near the best schools could take the remaining slots.

If Prop H passed and was adopted by the School Board, it would lead to increased segregation and inequality in our schools, and no choice for parents who live near bad schools.  Therefore, the Green Party strongly opposes it.

 

Old endorsements

We will also be posting our endorsements and voter guides from previous elections; we are currently in the process of porting content over from our old website.