For those constituents of District 8, encompassing the Castro, Noe Valley, Twin Peaks, Diamond Heights, Duboce Triangle, and a piece of the Mission District, and for those who just enjoy local political intrigues, you'll be interested to know that onetime progressive contender for the District 8 seat on the Board of Supervisors, Rafael Mandelman, is getting back in the fight to try to usurp mayoral appointee Jeff Sheehy.
The announcement comes just a day after this little item from the Chronicle concerning a business-friendly, moderate, "bowtie-wearing agitator" named Justin Jones, whom Sheehy just installed as his aide, much to the chagrin of progressive leader Aaron Peskin, whose office sits right next door.
The rumor went out in January, literally days after Sheehy's swearing in, that some progressives were hoping to force a special election this November to unseat Sheehy and regain a progressive majority on the Board, which was lost when D11 was won last November by moderate Ahsha Safai. But Beyond Chron's Randy Shaw, for one, was advocating for patience, saying that a progressive candidate like Mandelman would stand a better chance of winning in a wider election in 2018, when Sheehy will have to run for this seat anyway.
But, Mandelman says in a release announcing his run today, "I’m running because I believe that District 8 voters deserve a choice democracy is at its best when it’s a contest of ideas. Voters should be able to hear competing visions on how to build the housing, transportation, and infrastructure that our community needs."
Mandelman last ran for supervisor in 2010, joining a crowded race the year that former D8 supervisor Bevan Dufty was termed out, losing to the more moderate Scott Wiener, who was known to send out mailers like this one touting the fact that Mandelman "opposed Muni reform."
Mandelman is an SF native who attended Brandeis Hillel Day School and Lick-Wilmerding High School, and after graduating Yale (he's careful to add "on scholarship") where he studied housing and urban development, he got a masters in public policy at Harvard and a law degree from UC Berkeley, going on to practice law over the last 17 years as an urban development attorney. He's also served as president of the Noe Valley Democratic Club, Commissioner on the San Francisco Board of Appeals, Chair of the San Francisco LGBT Center, President of the District 8 Democratic Club, a Deputy City Attorney for Oakland, and most recently President of the City College Board of Trustees. While there, he has helped steer the college through their recent accreditation crisis.
“San Francisco needs to build more affordable housing, and we need to build it yesterday,” Mandelman says, citing his experience as a development attorney. “I know what it takes to get housing built and I want to bring that experience to the Board."
Mandelman "pulled papers" to begin his campaign today, but it remains to be seen whether a special election will be held or not.
Says Shaw, progressives should should stop thinking about wasting time and money on a special election this year and focus instead on more grassroots organizing and activism on topics like transit and housing. "Too many activists confuse electoral outreach with ongoing organizing," Shaw writes. "The two are very different. Election campaigns build activist solidarity and inspire grassroots action. But there is a big difference between getting people to vote a certain way and the more time consuming process of engaging them to join ongoing campaigns for change."