District 6's changing
new political landscape
By Bonnie Eslinger
Although there is more than six months before San Francisco voters go to the ballot box to either re-elect or reject half of The City's district supervisors, 28 challengers have already declared their candidacy — close to half of them for the District 6 race.
In a seeming repeat of the "Anybody But Chris Daly" 2002 — when seven candidates tried to unseat the controversial progressive supervisor — 13 District 6 hopefuls are gearing up the November election.
Representing a wide stretch of The City — including Treasure Island, South of Market, South Beach, the Tenderloin, Civic Center, and part of the Mission — Daly, a former housing organizer, has unapologetically set his priorities on serving the predominantly low-income constituents of the district. It has not won him the favor of The City's business interests, who see his district as one ripe for development.
"A lot of people in San Francisco would like to see a new supervisor in District 6," said San Francisco political consultant Jim Ross. "He has been one of — if not the — most polarizing members of the Board of Supervisors."
From negotiating a deal with developers that put $34 million into a South of Market improvement fund as a requirement to build Rincon Hill development, to introducing legislation earlier this month that would enact a moratorium on chain stores in that same area, Daly has provoked both ire and praise for his strong but savvy political will.
"Chris Daly has shown himself to be a capable, effective legislator," said Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin. "He represents one of the poorest, neediest districts in The City and he advocates like a tiger."
Daly's critics say there are residents in his district that don't get the attention they deserve.
"I think Supervisor Daly does a good job of representing half of his district very well," said Michael Sullivan, co-founder of Plan C, an advocacy group that bills itself as a "moderate" voice. "However, the new residents of SOMA and Mission Bay and South Beach, I just don't think Supervisor Daly thinks of those as his constituents."
With a pitch to appeal to those new voters, a new candidate is about to enter the District 6 race that some think could appeal to that wider cross section and be a viable candidate against Daly. Rob Black, 36, a graduate of UC Hastings College of Law and a legislative aide for District 2 Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, called Daly on Thursday to declare he was in the race.
"Rob is the one who is likely to become the one alternative to Chris Daly," said Wade Randlett, President of SFSOS, a well-connected city advocacy organization. According to Randlett, new development in District 6 has added about 18,000 new voters who may not feel any loyalty to Daly. "What we have is a wide open race," he said.
Black, a Democrat who worked on the Clinton/Gore race and human rights work overseas, said he wouldn't abandon the needs of low-income residents, but said he would use a different approach than Daly.
"You need a bridge builder, not a bomb thrower," said Black. "I believe that government can play an important role in guiding and correcting market failures, but I think that's done better by creating incentives for good behavior as opposed to overregulating."
Daly said he wasn't worried about the competition for his seat.
"I've worked very hard on the issues that the majority of the district's residents care about, such as affordable housing," Daly said. "I feel very good about my record."