SF Mayoral race heats up at City College forum

San Francisco mayor hopefuls (left to right), John Avalos, Jeff Adachi, Joanna Reese, Devan Dufty and David Chiu were part of the 13 cadidates who participated in the Mayoral Forum at the Diego Rivera Theatre at City College’s Ocean Campus on Sept. 28, 2011. CLARIVEL FONG / THE GUARDSMAN

By Darren Girard
The Guardsman

City College students posed questions on hot button topics during a mayoral forum held at the Diego Rivera Theatre on Sept. 28, hosted by the Associated Students Council in conjunction with New American Media.

Mayoral candidates addressed questions about MUNI, poverty, crime and of course – jobs.

David Chiu began by touting working class values in an attempt to connect with his audience of City College students and faculty.

Chiu went on to state “jobs are the number one issue in this campaign,” he added, “I believe every business should start an internship program.”

Some candidates took the issue further. Jeff Adachi talked about re-investing pension funds to create more jobs, while John Avalos mentioned the local hire ordinance he authored last year focusing on the poorest communities in San Francisco.

Emil Lawrence spoke of his proposal, humbly named, “The Lawrence Plan,” which intends to connect City College students to the future job market.

“My plan is to cut 5,000 jobs from the fat cats in city hall and replace them with 5,000 entry level positions available to San Francisco college graduates.” Lawrence explained, referring to “The Lawrence Plan.

Two of the most pressing issues the candidates face this election cycle are MUNI reform and the Central Subway Project. The Central Subway’s cost has ballooned to over $1 billion and opponents of the plan wonder how a cash strapped MUNI system is going to pay for it.

“One out of every eight MUNI operators don’t show up to work. If people came to work and didn’t miss one out of eight shifts they’d do a much better job,” Bevan Dufty said, referring to the time and money lost from missed shifts.

Phil Ting’s stance was on revolutionizing the system with the introduction of dedicated MUNI only lanes, giving them priority transit over everyone else, while saving money for the city. “If we could save just one minute, we’d save 20 million dollars,” he said.

David Chiu and Wilma Pang intertwined their personal relationships with the public transit system.

“I am one of the few candidates here who does not have a car, the focus should be on making this city safe [for pedestrians and cyclists]. I have many ideas in my blueprint to make sure we’re safe and can get around when we need to.” Chiu said, holding up his own Clipper card to a roaring applause from the audience.

Senator Leland Yee made the promise to be the candidate who “makes sure David Chiu and Wilma Pang have a bus when they need it.”

Senator Yee explained the need for more advanced technology to ensure the public transit system is run efficiently. His idea being that a more efficient system leads to higher ridership, and ultimately less cars on the road.

“There’s just not enough space and not enough air quality to support more cars. We have to find ways to commit to MUNI and I am the one to do that.” asserted Yee.

Perhaps the most unique idea came from Phil Currier who advocates for a long-term solutions to the transit crisis in San Francisco. One of Currier’s ideas involve a subway system that he proposed to be free of charge, a ploy to draw more tourists to the Bay Area.

“If we set up a public bank, if we took all of our assets we’d have a half trillion dollars to build the subway.” Currier answered in response to how such a project would be funded.

City College students will get another chance to address their mayoral candidates at the AFT 2121 Comittee on Political Education Forum for San Francisco Mayor. COPE will sign in their AFT 2121 union members who will take a vote on their candidate endorsement after the meeting.

The COPE Endorsement Meeting will take place Wednesday, Oct. 5, at Multi-Use-Building room 140 from 2:30-4:30 p.m., the day this issue of The Guardsman goes is first on newsstands.