On Tuesday, Nov. 5, San Francisco voters will be asked to vote on six local propositions that could change the way we do things in San Francisco. Voters will also elect a new District Attorney and choose a member of the School Board. In an interest to ensure that Latino voters are informed with fair explanations and recommendations before voting, students in Teresa Carrillo’s upper-division Latino Politics class (LTNS 660) in the Latina/Latino Studies Department at SF State’s College of Ethnic Studies have carefully researched local propositions A-F to understand what changes are being proposed and how they might affect the Latino community. We also graded the candidates in terms of their responsiveness to Latino political interests. Listed below are explanations and recommendations for El Tecolote readers. We hope that you will represent your community by taking the time to vote.
San Francisco Local Propositions A-F
Prop A: Fund affordable housing
Prop A will allow San Francisco to issue bonds to borrow up to $600 million to help those who can’t afford housing in San Francisco. The bonds will allocate $220 million for affordable housing for low-income individuals and families, $150 million to repair and rebuild public housing and $150 million to construct housing for seniors. The money will come from property taxes, hotel taxes, developer fees and local sources. Prop A would fund 2,800 new homes for low-income families. Latino families are getting evicted in San Francisco at a much higher rate than other groups. Prop A will help the Latino population and other low-income populations to confront the problem of eviction and to be able to afford housing in San Francisco.
Prop B: San Francisco Disability and Aging Services Charter Amendment
A “yes” vote means you are in favor of changing the name of San Francisco’s Aging and Adult Services Department and Commission to Disability and Aging Services, and that you are in favor of requiring at least one member of the seven-member commission to be older than 60, one member who is disabled, and one member who has served in the U.S. military. Prop B will provide a better opportunity for representation of interests that are more varied and responsive to the Latino community in general, and to Latinos and others who are elderly and/or disabled in particular. We support Prop B because it will mean greater diversity of viewpoints on the commission and that these diverse voices might advocate for positive change for the Latino community’s disabled and elderly.
Prop C: Lift the ban on sale of e-cigarettes in San Francisco
Prop C is an attempt to overturn a local law passed in 2019, which suspended the sale of e-cigarettes and flavored vapor products in San Francisco, until further review by the Food and Drug Administration. A coalition known as SF Kids vs. Big Tobacco pushed to pass the earlier law because e-cigarette companies like Juul were marketing and selling products to children. One study estimates that 18 percent of high school students in San Francisco use e-cigarettes. We recommend a “no” vote on Prop C so that the original law that banned the sale and laid out regulations and restrictions on vapor product vendors and advertisements will be upheld. We believe this will support the well-being of youth in our community.
Prop D: Tax rideshare companies to improve public transportation and infrastructure
A “yes” on Prop D would authorize a tax on ride-share companies such as Uber and Lyft, at a rate of 1.5 percent to 3.25 percent. The revenue would go towards improving and maintaining Muni services and improving pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. Even though this new tax will slightly increase the price of rideshare transportation, we support it because of its potential to fund improvements in public transportation and other modes of transport such as biking and walking. So many Latinos are young and low-income; we are a community that is dependent on public transportation services and we anticipate that Prop D will be a net gain for Latinos.
Prop E: Allow affordable housing for educators on public land
Prop E would allow 100 percent affordable housing for educators to be constructed on public land, opening new opportunities to create affordable housing in the city. Without Prop E, housing cannot be built on public land. Prop E will make the Educator Housing Project a priority, allow housing to be built on public land, expedite the review process, and allow for the Planning Department to approve 100 percent Affordable and Educator Housing Projects without having to be reviewed by the Planning Commission. This proposed change is good for Latinos because we are currently experiencing historically high rates of homelessness and lack of affordable housing in San Francisco. Public school teachers and other educators would be the targeted beneficiaries of Prop E, so if we want to recruit more Latinos to be teachers in our schools, we should make it more viable for educators to live here.
Prop F: Transparency in political donations and ads
Prop F would force Super PACs to disclose their top three donors in both their print and visual advertisements, as well as lower the threshold to be considered a top donor to $5,000. Prop F would also ban donations made by people or companies with an interest in land use, zoning, or city planning to the mayor, the district attorney, the board of supervisors, or candidates for these positions. Prop F is beneficial for Latinos since there will be more transparency in political advertisements and donations. If Prop F passes, we will be able to see who is supporting a measure and better understand who might benefit from it. Prop F would help prevent big companies from getting their way in issues such as housing and development by making political donations.
San Francisco’s District Attorney Candidates
Among the four candidates competing to be San Francisco’s next District Attorney, there is general agreement on the reforms that out-going District Attorney George Gascón supported. We have focused our evaluation on how the candidates differ and how responsive they are to Latino political interests.
Chesa Boudin is our top choice for District Attorney (DA) because we see him as the most responsive to the Latino community. Boudin is an attorney in the Public Defender’s Office who has first-hand experience with the broken criminal justice system because his parents were incarcerated. He is passionate about making changes that will prevent crime, reduce the number of misdemeanors going to trial, and make our city safer and more just for the Latino community. If elected, Boudin has pledged to defend the rights of immigrant communities, continue to uphold Sanctuary City policies, support state and local policies that prohibit local authorities from notifying ICE with information about immigrants in the system, protect immigrant communities from ICE, and advocate for the national “Clean Dream Act,” which would offer a pathway to citizenship for young migrants without adding more impediments that harm and criminalize our community. Boudin opposes SB 50, a state senate bill that he fears would accelerate gentrification in the Mission District and contribute to the displacement of many families. Boudin has advocated for the right of undocumented immigrants to receive housing services and to keep open the shelter at Buena Vista Horace Mann (BVHM), a program that provides resources for struggling Latinx/immigrant families. When Mario Woods was killed by SFPD in 2015, Boudin publicly called for prosecution of the police.
Chesa Boudin is the candidate who most directly acknowledges the disadvantages that challenge the Latinx community and has laid out plans to lessen disparities by providing the community with better resources, proper representation and protection against anti-Latinx/immigrant policies. His first-hand experience with family members in prison fuels his drive to quickly implement change in the criminal justice system. Because he prioritizes issues that impact the Latinx community, Boudin is our most promising ally.
Leif Dautch is a Deputy Attorney General for California. He had a unique upbringing, his mother worked as a nurse at juvenile hall and his family adopted several children. These experiences have allowed him to develop an understanding of complex issues involving young people and inequality in economic opportunity, incarceration, and criminal justice. Dautch supports rehabilitative and restorative justice; he was the former president of SF’s Juvenile Probation Commission and one of his central goals is to close Juvenile Hall and turn it into a mental health treatment site. Like Boudin, Dautch opposes SB50 and supports the shelter used by the Latinx community at BVHM. Further, Dautch would make it a priority to prosecute landlords who falsely evicted tenants. Dautch would like to better connect with the Latinx community through more Latinx representation on board and commissions, sanctuary city policies, race-blind sentencing, and implicit-bias training to combat institutionalized racism. He opposes suppression of the right to vote when the federal government gains access to the voting rolls of non-citizens with children in local schools that have participated in voting in local school board elections. He believes in providing the same social services to asylum seekers in San Francisco as what residents receive. Both Dautch and Boudin ran on progressive views that favor the Latinx community, but some of Dautch’s positions placed him just under Boudin in our assessment of his responsiveness to Latino political interest.
Nancy Tung is hoping to be the first Chinese American DA. We graded her third among because of her dedication to maintain many aspects of a criminal justice system that has not worked in favor of the Latinx community. Tung presents herself as a centrist candidate who aims to fix a few errors while preserving the same basic orientation of the DA’s Office. During several debates, she has remained silent on important questions that deal with practices in the criminal justice that are unfair to people of color. Her agenda seems to focus on law enforcement security rather than on the community. Some of Tung’s positions are supportive of the Latinx community; she supports sanctuary city policy, asylum seekers and language access to help non-English speakers communicate with law enforcement. She differs from Boudin and Dautch in her support for SB50, arguing that the streamlining of approval of development projects can help communities grow, even though in other cities, streamlined development has led to gentrification and evictions of communities of color. On several housing issues, she does not take a stand, citing limits to the DA’s jurisdiction. She supports the right of immigrant parents to vote in school board elections and for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients to be included in the Dream Act. Tung advocates for police safety policies and has been described as being “tough on crime.” She opposes the decision to shut down Juvenile Hall, advocates for federal drug sweeps in the Tenderloin, and defends police use of tasers as a non-lethal weapon, putting forth these policies as a way to promote a greater sense of community trust in police. She says that if elected, she will recruit more Latinx legislative staff and law enforcement officers. Nancy Tung is an experienced candidate for the DA position, but her reformist ideals are not very responsive to the needs of the Latinx community.
Suzy Loftus is a lawyer in the Sheriff’s Department. Before working as legal counsel to Sheriff Vicki Hennessy, Loftus held various positions before moving to the Sheriff’s Department. She was a San Francisco prosecutor for cases involving domestic violence, elder abuse and firearms. She founded the Center of Youth Wellness and she was a former president of San Francisco’s Police Commission. Loftus emphasizes her role as a mother of three daughters when talking about the core issues in her campaign for DA: safety, justice and rights for families, youth and communities, regardless of their race or identity. In pursuit of her agenda, she plans to promote more diverse school board members to represent students of color in the SFUSD, support AB291 (the Immigrant Protection Defense Act), train police on de-escalation techniques to de-escalate potentially dangerous situations, and she opposes the use of tasers. However, she is in favor of SB50, an up-zoning bill which would promote gentrification, putting the Latinx community and other communities of color in danger of being displaced from their homes. She also has direct affiliation and support from both Mayor London Breed and Greg Suhr (former SFPD chief who presided over 15 fatal police shootings and a scandal involving a string of racist and homophobic text messages). Her presence in office with Suhr did not curb police violence towards communities of color. Given these failings, it is difficult to fully endorse Loftus for District Attorney.
Candidates for San Francisco’s Board of Education
Of the three candidates, only one clearly has the experience and record of achievement we are looking for in our next school board member.
We gave Jenny Lam an “A” based on her impressive record as incumbent on school board. During her 15 years of experience Lam has become skilled at building high level relationships that benefit the city and create effective multi-racial community coalitions. Her work has focused on immigrant rights, language access and even census reform. Her priorities demonstrate that she has the interests of students of color in mind, including Latinos. In her work as chair of the board, Lam helped distribute local funding and delivered high-speed internet to low-income schools. She has been endorsed by the Latino Democratic Club and by many in leadership positions who have proven to be steadfast allies of the Latino community. We believe Jenny Lam is the best candidate.
Robert “Bobby” Coleman
Coleman focuses on unity through racial justice, but he is vague about the way he plans to work toward racial justice as a Board member. Coleman has been involved in art organizations that offer artistic opportunities for youth, such as Noontime Concerts. He is in support of the closure of Juvenile Hall and against Prop C, positions which demonstrate his support of San Francisco youth. Although he has been an effective advocate for tenants rights as an activist in organizations such as the SF Tenants Union, the Mid-Embarcadero Citizen Advisory Group, ShareBetterSF, and Eviction-Free SF, it is not clear how these skills will translate into his new role on the Board of Education if he wins.
It has not been easy to find information on Strobel. In one questionnaire, she strongly advocates for equity for students “regardless of address,” or “what side of Geary they live on.” She has also voiced a concern about suspension policies and San Francisco’s limited curriculum that does not expand on technology, despite the fact that San Francisco is a tech capital. We graded her lowest among the candidates due to her lack of previous experience, even though she has shown some determination to tackle difficult issues of racial and ethnic inequities.
The Latino Voter Guide was researched and written by: Joshua Alexzander Anderson, Teresa Carrillo, Rae Enriquez, Anthony David Holman, Clara Knight, Kimberley Martinez, Emmanuel Navarro, Arturo Ortega, Yvette Osio, Paul Padilla, Giselle Milagro Peralta, Fernando Perez de la Rosa, Jennifer Marie Smith, Chris Torres, Jessica Denisse Torres