Interview with Tom Ammiano

The full transcript of SF Weekly's interview with man who would be mayor

JPE: Do you find that the campaign had to find its way at all in its organization and growth, or is that just part of the charm of the campaign?

TA: Certainly people have focused more and defined themselves more, and that's growth, that's evolvement. But it hasn't been lurching, 'Let's do this, oh no, let's do this, wait a minute that was wrong, let's turn around.' The instincts and initial organizing were all great; it was perfect. I mean, it was imperfect, but it was perfect in as to what might happen, and they just went into high gear.

JPE: You mentioned that back in August you felt the regular way just wasn't going to do it, but you thought the write-in sounded enticing. How much of that played into you factor of not filing in August?

TA: The write-in at that time was something I felt more intuitively; I didn't really know if it would produce or not produce. But it certainly was in the back of my mind as something that might come in handy if things really got bad. So when I was looking at everything, it was a part of it -- but it wasn't the main part. There were more integral reasons why I didn't want to do it.

JPE: What do you want your legacy to be?

TA: I like the idea of hard work, and the grass-root legacy; upsetting the traditional apple cart of how people get elected -- and that it wasn't just a flash in the pan, that there will be some productivity. Certainly around the issues that are important to me: social justice issues, checks and balances. That would be fine with me. Someone who has a good sense of humor. Someone asked me what my epitaph would be, and I said I'd like to see, "Here stands Tom Ammiano." [laughs]

JPE: When historians look back on this -- and was a pretty historical effort -- and they try to come up with a thesis as to what's going on now, maybe they'll say it was an unprecedented write-in campaign, it was a clarion call that got you into a runoff. But now that you're in that push, is the simple grass-roots effort enough to beat the big machine? Yet to step away from that, is that to betray what got you here in the first place? Is that a conundrum that you and your staff think about every day?

TA: No, not at all. Pretty much we're focused on the everyday stuff with Dec. 14 and that outcome, and somewhat we're thinking about if the outcome is positive how we'll transition. I tend to think this is, if anything, is an ibid. History is not linear. I would just like it to mean that this was a seed, which grows into telling establishment corporate campaigning to get a grip, and it has to be more like this than it has been. But there's no guarantee.

TA: OK?

JPE: OK. Can I ask you one last question?

TA: No, no, no! Come on, come on...

JPE: OK, OK...

TA: All right, All right. But thank you.

JPE: Thank you. I really appreciate it.

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