SF mayoral candidates' home bases are where the campaign trail begins 

Often a mix of droning platitudes, stadium-style heckling and “gotcha” questions, mayoral debates this campaign season haven’t done much to distinguish candidates from each other. The debates are normally packed with strong supporters or detractors — the political junkies who have often made up their minds long before the debates. With that in mind, The San Francisco Examiner tried to capture some of the campaigns in their most candid light by paying unannounced visits to most of their headquarters on Tuesday.  

Click on the picture at right for a slideshow of photos of the candidates' headquarters and a few facts about the offices.

Mayor Ed Lee’s newly opened pad on the fifth floor of the Warfield Building at Sixth and Market streets was by far the most difficult to access. Although there is a small walk-in office on street level, the door to the actual headquarters is locked.

That’s not surprising, considering that the dicey neighborhood is the scene of frequent shootings, not to mention the Crazy Horse Gentlemen’s Club right next door. Although The City’s mayors commonly use security guards, Lee could probably stand to hire a few extra.

The mayor’s choice of neighborhood backs up his strong advocacy of the mid-Market payroll tax break for Twitter, aimed at revitalizing the area. Inside, Lee’s new digs include murals mirroring the neighborhood and what is basically a utility closet for the mayor to work in for two to three hours a day. Staff members acknowledge the area is gritty, but also “a little hip.”

Also working out of a closet-size office at his Van Ness Avenue and Turk Street headquarters, state Sen. Leland Yee passed up the window offices with views of City Hall to give them to his staffers — and in some cases, their dogs.

“I already know my role as mayor. My staff is going to tell me what to do,” Yee joked.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera has arguably the nicest-looking headquarters, on California Street between Nob Hill and the Tenderloin. According to staff members there, composting food is kind of a big deal. Failure to do so is punished greatly, perhaps with banishment to another campaign.

Bevan Dufty, the only openly gay candidate, moved in April to the same Castro neighborhood headquarters used by the No on Prop. 8 campaign. His particular work area is known as the cave.

“Because he’s not allowed out,” joked communications director Roby Chavez.

Farther west on Geary Boulevard, the young staff of venture capitalist Joanna Rees was busily sorting door hangers and chattering away with voters on the phone. Rees said she’s constantly telling people to clean up the office, which is easily one of the messiest.

Rees doesn’t have a set office at the headquarters and said she likes the open feel because it’s similar to startup companies she has worked with in the past.

Seemingly less young than some other offices, the headquarters of former Supervisor Tony Hall in the Sunset district was relatively quiet on Tuesday. Field director Ben Jones said the campaign has a few interns, but then inadvertently revealed the age of the operation.

“See over there? She worked for Bobby Kennedy,” Jones said of one of the volunteers.


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Dan Schreiber

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