Monday, October 11, 2004

Thoughts on the silly season: in San Francisco politics, contentment rarely lasts through an election cycle, and this fourth year of district elections has new faces talking about ending the neighborhood-based electoral system. Residential Builders Association chief Joe O’Donoghue and Tenderloin non-profit baron-slash-editor Randy Shaw are now talking about ditching district elections in a bid to elect more progressive candidates. As is, top lefties like Robert Haaland, Ross Mirkarimi and Bill Barnes are battling for a small piece of the citywide political pie, instead of working together to take two seats on an at-large board. So now O’Donoghue and Shaw are parroting a position favored by Mayor Gavin Newsom. … District elections most empower everyday neighborhood folks, since development dollars do most of the talking in citywide races. For O’Donoghue and Shaw, development money is a force they can understand. But should the progressive movement sell out to pro-development forces – be it market rate or subsidized housing – the neighborhood folks will be out of the coalition, to its demise. … Even with ranked choice voting, the left can only sustain its electoral wins by keeping its truce with neighborhood anti-growth activists. Newsom keeps his popularity by keeping the NIMBYs happy too, and that’s why the business community just can’t get a break. …

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