By Otto Pippenger/Staff Writer
Many know him for his music. He’s collaborated with Andre Nickatina, Bored Stiff and Mike Marshall among dozens of others in his 25-year career. Others know him from the preschool where he teaches.
But most recently former City College student Ilych Sato, better known as the rapper Equipto, made news for the viral video of him haranguing Mayor Ed Lee during an encounter in Max’s Opera Cafe over Lee’s housing policies.
“You’re a disgrace to Asians. You’re kicking the people that built this city out,” Sato said.
Now he’s lending his support to the trio of independents, campaigning as a group in an electoral tontine hoping to unseat the mayor with the power of ranked choice voting and grassroots support.
Amy Farah Weiss, Francisco Herrera and Stuart Schuffman (better known as “Broke Ass Stuart”) are candidates opposing Mayor Lee, along with former hospital administrator Rent Graham and urban technology designer Reed Martino.
Joe Eskenazi, a writer for San Francisco Magazine, described voter’s choice as a “gaping chasm between Mayor Ed Lee is unacceptable and I want Broke-Ass Stuart to tell me what to do.”
Nevertheless, the trio are confident that one of them could win, considering that Lee only won in 2011 after 12 rounds of candidate eliminations.
“Ed Lee is a sleeping giant, and we can win if we get people involved who have been disengaged,” Weiss said.
Ranked-choice voting goes into effect if no candidate receives 51 percent or more of the initial vote.
According to a poll by SurveyUSA conducted in December 2014, Lee’s most recent approval rate is 47 percent.
As three outsiders running with many of the same positions, they have decided to campaign together and promote each other to be their supporters’ second or third choices on the ballot.
On Oct. 18, Sato and the trio attended the Mission’s Sunday Streets event, promoting themselves as individuals and as a group to anyone in earshot, trying to encourage last minute voter registration before the cutoff on the Oct. 19 in hopes of reaching the 75,000 voters they say are needed for one of them to win.
Sato himself is a supporter of Weiss, but believes all three share his priorities.
“Anybody that’s for education should vote for these three. We all know teachers are underpaid and teaching is the greatest responsibility of any job,” Sato said. “There aren’t enough homeless shelters, not enough clinics. There’s so much money coming through this city- more of it needs to go to the people of this city.”
Weiss is a Bay Area native who has worked in education, mental health services, medical cannabis and a number of other fields. She’s only become active in local politics in the last four years, founding Neighbors Developing Divisadero and organizing her community against displacement from a Chase Bank.
Eviction, displacement and affordability are the issues at the center of her platform, and she has been endorsed by the SF Tenants Union and Green Party, among others.
Naturally, she hopes to win, but anyone other than Lee would make her happy.
“I think I’m the most qualified to lead, but no matter what happens on Nov. 3, I’ll work with Stuart and Francisco. Nov. 3 is going to be one of the most important elections ever for this city,” Weiss said.
Herrera is an activist and singer songwriter running on an eight-point platform including affordable housing, funding for neighborhoods and the arts, improving MUNI, protecting education (including saving City College), police accountability, immigrant protection and worker’s rights.
Examiner columnist Schuffman has been a vocal critic of Lee and the city’s election process.
After the Ethics Commission told Schuffman that he couldn’t go through with his plan to run for mayor while writing about it for The Examiner, he decided to do it himself.
His online materials and casual writing style present his candidacy as an exercise intended to reveal the flaws in our system, but in person even he seems surprised by the support he and the others have seen.
“We’ve raised maybe $30,000. I think they’re starting to get nervous. We’re fighting against apathy. Ed Lee wins because of apathy,” Schuffman said.
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