Cesar Ascarrunz' Cesar's Latin Palace was a top fixture of 1990s San Francisco night life. His 1999 New Years' Eve bash at Bill Graham auditorium headlined by Los Van Van
is still remembered as the greatest concert in San Francisco history. But Ascarrunz is most fondly remembered for a series of 1990s-era runs for San Francisco mayor
that offered hope of a new kind of city -- one with rhythm.
Ascarrunz told us this morning he plans to throw his hat in the ring again.
"People have been asking me -- business people, Italians, Chinese people -- they've been asking me: You're the one who knows the city, they say. You've got to run," Ascarrunz said.
In 1999, when Ascarrunz made a prior run at City Hall, SF Weekly
explained the significance of the man's candidacy:
As often happens at historical crossroads such as these, a man possessed of sufficient charisma, vision, and courage can chart the course of history. In this city, at that time, that man was Cesar Ascarrunz.
SF Weekly also explained in detail why Ascarrunz was exactly what this city needed:
During conversation, Cesar was known for accentuating points about his personal background -- or his plans to have the National Guard patrol the streets -- by gently and repeatedly touching the hand and garments of an interviewer. He was a man who relentlessly flagged down attractive women, earnestly telling them about his candidacy in a manner possessed of such grace that at least one female office worker cut a Cesar campaign flier into the shape of a heart and hung it on her computer.
"My agenda is to take care of all the people," Cesar said.
And the women understood.
Ascarrunz boasted qualifications unrivaled in San Francisco politics.
A native of Bolivia, Cesar had come to the Bay Area in 1960, and
attended UC Berkeley and the University of San Francisco. A master of
seven tongues, he became a nightclub mogul, at one point running eight
clubs. He was famous for his weekday and Sunday benefit events, which
became a financial mainstay for every sort of San Francisco charity.
Cesar's Latin Palace, a cavernous dance hall decorated with glitter
balls and neon signs, was the most famous of the salsa clubs.
Ascarrunz says he's waiting until after the June primary to file papers announcing his 2010 candidacy for San Francisco mayor. In the meantime, he's taken steps to elevate his visibility, such as attaching his name to a hot dog stand recently spotted downtown.
"Es para ayuar a la gente," Ascarrunz said: It's to help the people.
Continuing in his native Spanish, Ascarrunz explained: "This isn't just any hot dog stand. It's got refrigeration, hot water, sinks -- everything. The generator on the cart alone cost $5,000."
After he's given so much to San Francisco, we hope citizens can give back to Ascarrunz with their votes.