The surprise incumbent-less November race for District 4 supervisor is officially on. All candidates had to have paperwork filed by 5 p.m. Monday, and while many pulled papers, only nine filled them out and met qualifications for the race. The final candidates are Adam Kim, Mike Murphy, Jessica Ho, Lia Miao Lovett, Gordon Mar, Arthur Tom, Tuan Anh Ngueyn, Lou Ann Bassan, and Trevor McNeil.
Fans of Sonny Smith from Sonny and the Sunsets – sorry, we’re afraid he’s backed out. “When I heard that Katy Tang had resigned and set her assistant up to run for Supervisor of the Sunset I was concerned there would be no progressive candidates in District 4 to counter, so I went to City Hall and filed!” he wrote on Facebook. “However, I’m happy to report there are several progressive candidates who have stepped up. Check out Gordon Mar and Li Lovett when you can… The Sunset will need protection from egregious development, protections for affordable housing, various union support, humane policies around homeless in the park, a host of issues.”
Nevertheless, the other candidates display a wide array of talent. Gordon Mar, executive director of Jobs With Justice, is already viewed as one of the frontrunners, telling the Examiner that he wants “to ensure our district has independent leadership at City Hall and is not beholden to outside interests.”
Li Miao Lovett is also a strong progressive contender. A trained therapist, she’s an academic counselor at City College of San Francisco and grew up in Chinatown.
“I’ve thrown my hat in the ring because there is a remarkable wave of progressive energy responding to all the unfortunate forces of capitalism – we want to shape discourse and political choices so that we focus on workers, families, young people and elders, and politics don’t just tilt towards the wishes of the 1 percent,” Lovett wrote on Facebook.
Jessica Ho is backed by current-Supervisor Katy Tang, but her history in the neighborhood is short; She moved there in March from Los Angeles, though did live in San Francisco between 2009 and 2012. Her campaign goals thus far are pretty safe – “improving quality of life for all residents,” “creating housing that is affordable,” and “reducing homelessness” are issues that no voter in San Francisco would oppose, but how she plans to attack these in the Sunset remains to be seen.
Public school teacher Trevor McNeil may compete with Ho for the moderate votes. He ran for San Francisco Unified School District Board in 2014 and 2016, and in the latter was endorsed by Assemblymembers Phil Ting and David Chiu, Assessor-Recorder and former-District 4 Supervisor Carmen Chu, and then-Supervisor London Breed, Mark Farrell, and Katy Tang.
Tang and Breed have already endorsed Ho for this race, but will McNeil garner a second endorsement?
The hot-topic campaign issues for the Sunset will no doubt emerge in the coming weeks as the race heats up. But based on the past couple of years, we can imagine that affordable housing, density and height of new developments, public transportation, and cannabis dispensaries will all appear on candidates’ campaigns.
With several progressives running for the seat this election raises questions as to how the Sunset will lean in November. In the past, the neighborhood’s been considered more centrist or moderate. But in the 12 years since the last incumbent-free election took place, thousands of people have moved to the avenues to share houses with roommates, or start families. Has this rush of new residents changed the political leaning of the neighborhood? This election is a good way to find out.
And the results could have a major effect on how the Board of Supervisors votes and operates. With District 8 choosing Rafael Mandelman for supervisor, the Board’s political pendulum has swung toward a progressive majority (6-5). With November’s election – and the seats for Districts 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 up for grabs – this could change, but it seems unlikely that the balance would shift in any but Districts 4 and 6.
All of a sudden, all eyes are on the Sunset.