Mayors positions on City College

By Joe Fitzgerald, Brian Rinker, and Anna Shoriak
The Guardsman

The Guardsman takes a look inside each of the 12 mayoral candidates and gives insight into the impact they might have on City College.


Nov. 8’s candidates are:  Jeff Adachi, Michela Alioto-Pier, John Avalos, Terry Joan Baum, David Chiu, Bevan Dufty, Tony Hall, Dennis Herrera, Ed Lee, Phil Ting, Joanna Rees, Leland Yee

Jeff Adachi
  • Candidate Briefing:

Jeff Adachi says he is the only person who can reform city employee pensions. He claims that Proposition D, his pension reform plan, will save the city $400 million more a year than the competing Proposition C. But Prop D been called divisive and anti-labor by his opponents.

This troubles his long-time followers, because as the city’s public defender he was often been seen as the champion of lower-income and disenfranchised people.

In the past year, he exposed misconduct during a police raid on the Henry Hotel, where police were caught on video illegally entering rooms in the hotel to make drug busts. The videos led to an FBI probe of SFPD.

He also stood up to Mayor Gavin Newsom and refused to make a 25% budget cut to the public defender’s office. He refused on the grounds that it would hamper the office’s ability to provide defendants their constitutional right to legal counsel.

  • City College impact:

If Adachi’s pension reform passes, City College faculty and staff will have to make increased contributions to their pensions, among many other changes. Unions affiliated with City College are staunchly against Prop D.

Michela Alioto-Pier
  • Candidate Briefing:

Micheala Alioto-Pier has deep roots in the city. Her family has owned a Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant for years, and is politically connected. Her grandfather Joseph Alioto was once San Francisco mayor.

She served for seven years as supervisor for District 2, which includes the Marina and Pacific Heights districts.

Her record on the board shows support for business- and homeowner-related issues, despite San Francisco being a city of mostly renters.

She opposes district-based elections for supervisors believing that the city as a whole should vote for all supervisors. District-based voting has allowed grassroots candidates like Eric Mar of the Richmond to triumph over better-funded candidates..

The Guardsman has much respect for Alioto-Pier’s directness and candor. At a mayoral forum at USF she stated that younger citizens’ lack of engagement with the government is the central problem with our democracy today.

  • City College impact:

She has not demonstrated sympathy toward the needs of MUNI-riding, apartment-renting, lower- to middle-income City College students.

However Michela Alioto-Pier did pass legislation designed to attract biotech companies to San Francisco. This played a major role in City College becoming a recognized leader in biotech programs nationwide.




Supervisor John Avalos

  • Candidate Briefing:

John Avalos has been at the forefront of the progressive movement for a long time. Even the San Francisco Bay Guardian endorsed him, which is a sign of some major “progressive” chops.
As supervisor of District 11, which includes the Ingleside, Oceanview, Crocker-Amazon districts and the Ocean Avenue campus of City College, he has been a major proponent of local hire laws, launching LOCAL-SF, a movement to improve local hiring in San Francisco.
He’s also a social worker, who sent his own children through San Francisco’s public school system.  Recently Avalos jumped behind the movement for free MUNI service for San Francisco students below the age of 18.

Avalos has also been part of a Board of Supervisors notorious for “take-backs,” where after the budget is passed by City Hall, supervisors restore money to certain non-profits and city agencies. These “take-backs” have been throwing the city’s budget out of whack for years.

  • City College impact:

Avalos is endorsed by both the major unions at City College, SEIU local 1021 and AFT 2121.

As District 11’s supervisor since 2008 he may be more aware of City College’s needs than other candidates.





Terry Joan Baum
  • Candidate Briefing:

The lone Green Party candidate, Terry Joan Baum, is considered a long shot by many.  A lesbian playwright and actress, her political career began when she worked on Bella Abzug’s successful 1970 congressional campaign. Baum herself ran for congress against incumbent Nancy Pelosi in 2004.

She has been a voice of the 99% at many mayoral forums held in the past few months, with her campaign slogan of “Tax the rich, DUH.” In an interview with The Guardsman, she warned that allowing new housing for the rich could turn the city into an “Aspen by the sea.”

Baum is also an advocate for both marriage and immigration rights for same-sex couples.

  • City College impact:

Baum is a major proponent of free and subsidized MUNI passes for all citizens, which would greatly benefit City College students, many of which use public transit.

In her interview with The Guardsman, Baum claimed that “City College would be the last thing I would cut. I have taken classes there.”

But City College receives its funding from the State of California. This reveals a gap in Baum’s understanding of the workings of city politics.




David Chiu

  • Candidate Briefing:

David Chiu was elected to the Board of Supervisors on a “progressive” platform. But as the current president of the board he has moved toward a more centrist role. He is the unpredictable swing vote. He is beholden to few, and votes pragmatically.
Since his policies are guided less by ideology and more by expediency, it can be hard to reduce David Chiu to a single campaign ad.  He refused to be pigeonholed. This hurts him when it comes to winning votes.
Nevertheless he picked up the San Francisco Chronicle’s endorsement for mayor.

  • City College impact:

Chiu is one of the only candidates to travel San Francisco mainly by MUNI, bike and car sharing. His blueprint for the future shows a commitment to creating a transit-first city, and this would greatly benefit many City College students.

He has repeatedly rebuffed the City College Board of Trustee’s efforts to obtain tax and fee relief from the city. When pressed by The Guardsman, Chiu has claimed that the city of San Francisco is suffering the same fiscal setbacks as City College – putting the city in no position to help the college.




Bevan Dufty

  • Candidate Briefing:

Bevan Dufty has years of political experience, including eight as the supervisor of District 8, which includes the Castro, Twin Peaks, Noe Valley, Duboce Triangle and Glen Park.
Dufty is running on a platform of MUNI reform, and has been touting his “Black Agenda,” at every opportunity. He is the only candidate to make the flight of African-Americans from the city a central campaign issue. The 2010 census shows the city’s black population has fallen to only 6.2%, down from over 13% in 1970.
His ideas have been called “pie in the sky”, but Dufty has been elected as supervisor twice. This either speaks to his success on the board or to the conviction of his constituents that risk-taking is a sign of a strong politician.

  • City College impact:

Dufty has been a highly-vocal proponent of a parcel tax to support City College. He has shown himself to be well-versed in City College-related issues. Also, his attention to minority and low income families ties strongly into City College’s demographic.

Dufty was also endorsed as the third-choice candidate by SEIU 1021, a union which has direct ties to City College.

Tony Hall
  • Candidate Briefing:

Tony Hall is right-wing Republican with over 35 years of civil service.

He is an outspoken critic of current city politics. According to Hall, city workers’ pensions are the prime source of financial woes for the city.

He compares San Francisco’s pension crisis to “a car heading toward a brick wall at 100 miles per hour. Under Ed Lee’s plan [Prop C], we hit the wall at about 95 miles per hour. Under Jeff Adachi’s plan [Prop D], we hit the wall at about 90 miles per hour. Why isn’t anyone else besides myself talking about not hitting the wall?”

Hall is not afraid to stand up speak his mind. In 2010 he criticized then-Mayor Gavin Newsom for buddying up with prospective commercial developers. Hall was then fired from his position as executive director of Treasure Island.

  • City College impact:

His attacks on city workers, including college staff who support and maintain the school, and those non-profits who provide services and entry points for former, current and future City College students, threaten to diminish the quality of education and life for everyone at City College and beyond.



Dennis Herrera

  • Candidate Briefing:

Dennis Herrera was elected to the position of San Francisco City Attorney in 2001, and has served three terms in that role. Under him the City Attorney’s office defended the “Healthy San Francisco” program in the U.S. Supreme Court, and was a major advocate for the legalilization of marriage for same-sex couples.

The Central Subway has become the defining issue of Herrera’s campaign for mayor. As the projected budget for this subway to Chinatown ballooned to over 1.6 billion dollars, he made a call for the project to be entirely redesigned. This has lead Chinatown power broker Rose Pak and other major Chinatown figures to denounce his campaign as divisive.

  • City College impact:

Under Dennis Herrera the City Attorney’s office unveiled a scam by technology vendors to defraud the San Francisco Unified School District. Some $3.3 million was recovered for cash-strapped city schools.

He has however been mostly silent on issues relating to City College. During an interview with The Guardsman’s Valerie Demicheva, he gave mostly surface-level answers on City College issues and offered no concrete plans to aid the school in these hard financial times.

Ed Lee
  • Candidate Briefing:

Interim Mayor Ed Lee was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to complete the mayoral term of Gavin Newsom. Lee is the first Asian-American mayor of San Francisco.

Much controversy has been made over Lee’s decision to run in the current election. Initially he showed no interest in campaigning, but suddenly announced his intention to run on August 7, 2011. Many claim that ex-mayor Willie Brown and Chinatown powerbroker Rose Pak were key in convincing him to run.

Lee touts a 17-point plan to increase jobs and opportunity. He lists his top priorities as government transparency, balancing the city budget, pension reform,  homelessness, social justice and human rights, public safety, reviving local manufacturing, reliable public transport, investment into infrastructure,  jobs, payroll tax reforms, improving blighted areas, expanding tourism, and funding for public schools.

  • City College Impact

Lee is endorsed by the San Francisco Examiner, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and the Log Cabin Republicans. Hi’s efforts to relieve the deficit in the city’s general fund has directly impacted City College; instead of receiving City College the $2.1 million dollars in tax and fee relief they requested, only $250,000 was approved.

Assessor Phil Ting
  • Candidate Briefing:

Gavin Newsom appointed Phil Ting to be assessor-recorder of San Francisco in 2005. The assessor-recorder’s role is to evaluate homes for tax value.
Phil Ting has made much ado about his RESET San Francisco website. This crowdsourcing site provides a place for San Franciscans to pitch their ideas on how to fix the city, tackling issues such as MUNI reform, housing and even health care.
In fact, if you ask Phil Ting just about any question on any issue, he’ll often answer that the solution can be found on RESET San Francisco.

  • City College impact:

RESET San Francisco has some interesting discussions on education. The most commented-upon idea to reform education is “Crowdsourcing the Classroom: Education 2.0,” which discusses using Twitter to engage students outside of the classroom.

Ting echoed one of City College’s core missions in a RESET San Francisco comment, stating “Over the last two decades public schools have almost phased out all the vocational education courses.  Shop, mechanical drawing and auto repair were things you could learn in high school.  Today it’s harder to find those options because of the focus on pure academics in schools.”

Joanna Rees
  • Candidate Briefing:

Joanna Rees is a venture capitalist and a business woman. She often touts her “bottom up” method of accounting as a solution to the city’s financial woes.
“You go department by department and figure out what are the investments that absolutely have to stay to serve the community and what are some things that are no longer meeting their intended purpose,” she said in an interview with The Guardsman.
She has the endorsements of Jennifer Siebel-Newsom (Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom’s wife) and the San Francisco Women’s Political Committee.

  • City College impact:

Rees has told the Guardsman that “The mayor is in a unique position to bring together citywide resources that need to come together to impact [City College]. So for me it’s a critical issue, and it’s going consistently to be the number one issue in my administration.”

But unlike some other candidates, Rees hasn’t come out in support of a parcel tax to raise funds for City College. Nor has she expressed support for the College’s effort to have the city reduce or temporarily relieve the college’s obligation to pay fees and taxes to the city of San Francisco.

Leland Yee
  • Candidate Briefing:

State Senator Leland Yee started out as a member of San Francisco’s school board, moved onto the Board of Supervisors, then launched into state politics in 1996.
He is a fiscal conservative who claims he represents the Asian community of the Sunset district more than that of Chinatown, which has stronger ties to interim Mayor Ed Lee.

Profiles have been written about Yee by both the SF Weekly and Bay Guardian, accusing him of pandering to whatever audience he happens to be talking to.

Recently, Yee came under fire for reversing his position on shark fin soup, an issue for environmental groups seeking to protect endangered sharks. He initially backed Chinese supporters of  the traditional dish, but later reversed his position in the wake of political and social pressure.

  • City College impact:

Leland Yee was raised in San Francisco, attending City College for two years before transferring. He has stated on record to The Guardsman that he supports a parcel tax to fund City College.

However he incited controversy by opposing the proposed high-rise City College Chinatown campus back in 2007, opening the door for multiple lawsuits against the school.


The Guardsman