Overhauling the taxi industry and reining in San Francisco’s burgeoning labor costs, the newly elected former deputy city attorney is looking to take on big political issues.
No stranger to city government, Scott Wiener has laid out an aggressive agenda for when he assumes office Jan. 8 as the representative on the Board of Supervisors for the Castro and Noe Valley neighborhoods.
Improving the notoriously complex taxi industry, where change is often divisive, is a focus for Wiener, who views cabs as an important component of San Francisco’s transit system.
“Getting more cabs onto the street, moving toward a centralized dispatch and just making the cab system more usable for more people,” Wiener said, listing his goals. “Even though improving Muni can help get people out of their cars, one of the most effective ways to get people out of their cars is to provide them with a reliable taxi system so that they can get a cab when and where they need it.”
Wiener acknowledges it’s no small feat. “Many a politician has tried,” Wiener said, referencing the likes of former Mayor Willie Brown, who put more cabs on the streets, and Gavin Newsom, who as supervisor made taxis one of his issues.
One of the biggest challenges facing Wiener and his colleagues right away is closing The City’s projected $380 million budget shortfall.
To help solve The City’s financial instability, Wiener plans “to be very involved in those conversations” on reducing labor costs, including pension and retirees’ health, “to try and contain those costs so they do not swallow up the general fund.”
When it comes to his district, Wiener’s focus will be on improvements to Glen Canyon, a proposal to transform a 24th Street parking lot into a permanent plaza, and planning for renovation of Dolores Park.
One of the most important votes for Wiener could come right off the bat: who should serve as interim mayor for a year.
Wiener said the decision on mayor should be decided after he and the three newly elected members are sworn into office Jan. 8, when a decision could be made in a “less divisive way.” He prefers someone who will not seek election in November 2011.
Wiener knows firsthand what it’s like to battle with the progressive heavyweights who rose to prominence 10 years ago, known as the class of 2000. In 2008, the moderate found himself the target of influential progressive Aaron Peskin, who successfully fought to take the leadership chair of the local Democratic County Central Committee away from Wiener.
Wiener did not let that defeat knock him out. Two years later, he beat out two other moderate candidates and progressive challenger Rafael Mandelman this November by a healthy margin. With ranked-choice voting, Wiener won with 18,239 votes to Mandelman’s 14,687.
Come Jan. 8, the last of the board members from the class of 2000 are termed out of office. Wiener said the new board has shifted “slightly moderate,” but the bigger difference will be the mix of personalities.
The new board will accomplish more for San Francisco, he said. “We are going to have a much more collaborative and collegial board,” Wiener said, who described his style as “hard-working and thorough — without drama.”
Date of birth: May 11, 1970
Neighborhood you live in: Castro (17th and Diamond streets)
Occupation: Former deputy city attorney
What’s your favorite thing to do in the district? Hanging out with friends in Dolores Park after grabbing lunch at Dolores Park Cafe. A close second is shopping at the Noe Valley and Castro farmers markets.
What’s the best-kept secret about your district? George Christopher Playground in Diamond Heights. A lot of people don’t know about it, but it’s a beautiful open space that connects to Glen Canyon.
What’s your mantra? Work hard, keep your word and treat people with respect.
What was the last book you read? “Lincoln,” by Gore Vidal
What are your top three accomplishments?
1. Trinity Place: Earlier this year, close to 300 residents moved into Trinity Place. The second
tower will begin construction late summer 2011.
2. Establishing Community Benefit Districts for the Castro and Noe Valley
3. Castro Young Adult Housing Collaborative and Crystal Meth Task Force: We created a collaborative providing wrap-around services including Larkin Street, Lyric, LGBT Center and Dimensions Clinic. It houses more than20 young adults and is the center of an amazing partnership between these agencies serving LGBTQ youth and young adults. The next step was establishing a Crystal Meth Task Force — the first in the country — that Mayor Gavin Newsom formed at our request.
How do you want to be remembered?
That I loved my job and the people of our city.
What are the two biggest challenges facing The City?
Growing our economy with 21st-century industries, such as digital media, biotech and clean and green technology. And having great public schools, reliable Muni and sufficient housing so that these businesses want to be here and their employees want to live here.
What is the biggest challenge facing D-8, which your successor needs to deal with right away?
Scott Wiener was strongly elected and he has both a mandate from the residents of District 8 and a covenant with them. He doesn’t need me telling him what to do.
Favorite moment on the board?
Being sworn in for a second term in January of 2007 and having my 2-month-old, Sidney Maely Goldfader-Dufty, in my arms.
Worst moment on the board?
Oct. 31, 2006, when nine individuals were wounded by gunfire in the Castro on Halloween.
Not getting Nutraceutical to either re-open the Real Food Store on 24th Street in Noe Valley or allow someone else to come in and do something positive for the neighborhood.
Who should be interim mayor?
Sheriff Michael Hennessey or PUC General Manager Ed Harrington.
What do you plan to do next?
Hit the gym, run for mayor and navigate Sidney starting public school this fall.