Hearing from local candidates for the upcoming November election

I encourage everyone to read this email and weigh in with your thoughts.

  At our monthly meeting on Saturday, we discussed sending email questionnaires to, and hearing in person from, local candidates for the upcoming election on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. There was no dissent that it would be desirable to do this, but we did not get into the planning details. This email attempts to do that. Here are some other dates to bear in mind as you consider the options before us as discussed below:

Sept. 22 – Deadline to send ballots to military and overseas voters who've requested them by this date
Oct. 7 – Early voting for this election begins
Oct. 8 – Absentee voters are estimated to begin receiving their mail-in ballots on this date
Oct. 12 – Scheduled monthly LPSF meeting
Oct. 21 – Deadline to register to vote in this election

  The candidates seeking SF public office in this election are listed at https://sfelections.sfgov.org/candidates . I've copied their names here, along with the email addresses of the candidates who provided one. For a number of offices, incumbents are running unchallenged (not a sign of a healthy republic!):

City Attorney
Dennis Herrera

Community College Board
Ivy Lee – info@voteivylee.com

Public Defender
Manojar Raju – info@votemano.com

Paul Miyamoto – christian@miyamoto4sheriff.com

Jose Cisneros

  In the contested races, there appear to be a total of 18 candidates:

District 5 Supervisor
Dean Preston – votedean2019@gmail.com
Nomvula O'Meara – votenomvula2019@gmail.com
Ryan Lam – vote@ryanlamsf.com
Vallie Brown (incumbent) – hello@votevallie.com

District Attorney
Chesa Boudin – chesa@chesaboudin.com
Leif Dautch – leif@leif2019.com
Nancy Tung – nancy@nancytung2019.com
Suzy Loftus – info@votesuzyloftus.com

Ellen Lee Zhou – ellen@ellenformayor2019.com
Joel Ventresca – ventrescaj@aol.com
London Breed (incumbent) – info@londonformayor.com
Paul Robertson –
Robert Jordan –
Wilma Pang – PanasianSF@gmail.com
John Fitch (write-in) –

School Board
Jenny Lam – jennylamforschools@gmail.com
Kirsten Strobel – kirsten.strobel@gmail.com
Robert K. Coleman – coleman.bob@gmail.com

  If you have email addresses for any of the candidates listed above who did not have an address listed on the candidate web page (Dennis Herrera, Jose Cisneros, Paul Robertson, Robert Jordan, or John Fitch), please send them to me.

   In all likelihood the mayor will not come to our event; that leaves 17 possible attendees in the contested races. Probably fewer than all 17 will come even if all are invited, but I think it's at least conceivable that all of the remaining candidates will show. If so, at a mere 10 minutes each, that would put us at 2 hours and 50 minutes, in other words longer than our meeting time even if we did nothing else but hear from and interview candidates and do not invite the incumbents in the uncontested races (which doesn't seem worth it to me in this case, given time constraints both of the election calendar and the event itself, though I propose we do still email them questionnaires).

  Therefore our choices as I see it are basically:

1) Hear from candidates at our regular meeting as discussed at the meeting Saturday, but give each candidate very little time (at 7 minutes each, we'd be taking up to 119 minutes, or just under 2 hours; if we want to guarantee ourselves time for other business without going over schedule, 5 minutes each for a total of up to 85 minutes, or an hour and 25 minutes, is more realistic)

2) Plan to hold a longer monthly meeting than usual; or

3) Hold a separate candidates' event without other business

  If we go with option #1, I propose that we do not give candidates time to introduce themselves or talk about their priorities – we can give them that opportunity in the email questionnaire, which they would be encouraged to complete and send back before our in-person event – but go straight to Q&A, ask them to limit their answers to no more than a minute (or less time if they can answer in less), and cut them off promptly unless we ask them to continue. Try to leave them a brief opportunity at the end of their time for anything they'd like to add.

  If we go with option #2 or #3, the key concern is to ensure enough of us will be able to stay late or attend a separate event to make it worthwhile for the candidates and not embarrassing for the LPSF.

  As far as scheduling, we can either give candidates specific times to appear, or just take them on a first-come-first-serve basis, perhaps bumping some if they have other commitments and can't stick around. I favor the latter approach, because I think giving them specific times will be more difficult to coordinate – some candidates probably wouldn't show right at their scheduled times, which could throw off the whole timetable.

  As I see it, there are some reasons why it might be best if we do not invite other candidates to be present while a candidate is being interviewed:

• Avoid giving some candidates an unfair advantage in hearing what we ask others, and their responses
• Avoid prejudicing what candidates might want to say in front of rivals
• Avoid giving anyone grounds to complain if they think they see us giving someone more or less time than someone else, treating them differently, etc.

  There are some downsides to this approach however:

• If we just ask everyone to show up and see them more or less on a first-come basis, some may be less likely to stick around if they are left to wait outside
• Candidates won't have the benefit of learning about our perspective by hearing our questions to other candidates.
• If we are meeting in the library, our meetings must be open to the public. I think it's okay for us to ask candidates to voluntarily wait outside until we call them, and probably they would do so (if they bother to show up, presumably they care enough about our potential support not to want to alienate us by refusing to comply with such a request), but we should confirm the legality of even asking. If we're at a different location again next month, we would need to figure out whether we can ask people to stay outside the meeting area at Cafe Europa or wherever else we end up.

  Which approaches do you favor, and why? Please help us plan by sharing your thoughts.

Love & Liberty,

((( starchild )))
LPSF Outreach Director
(415) 625-FREE

I concur with Francoise….and appreciate all the thought you put into it. It takes a lot of work to generate a crowd to impress candidates. If you do the organizing, I will do my best to attend.


I agree about the embarrassment — for that reason, I tended to schedule
these events separately from the meeting, and tell the candidates they
were meeting with the Endorsement and Recommendation Committee. That
committee consisted of whoever showed up to hear the candidates...


Yes, thanks for the suggestion Chris. Works for me.

Love & Liberty,

((( starchild )))

Thanks to Mike and Françoise for weighing in on this, but I'd like to hear from more folks. If there is not a consensus, I'd like some direction from the officers ASAP. Right now I don't have a clear sense of what the group would like to do.

  If we don't have the kind of comprehensive candidates' event I've discussed, I suggest we invite the candidates we think might be worth recommending to come to our October meeting on Saturday. I very strongly support Chesa Boudin for D.A.

Love & Liberty,

((( starchild )))

Do you support him for San Francisco DA just because he is the son of
the former
member of the far-left group Weather Underground ??

No. That association doesn't hurt in the context of seeking the job of D.A.. as far as I'm concerned, but I support him primarily because I believe he is serious about fighting for criminal justice reform. Unlike his rivals he's not a career prosecutor – he has been working in the SF Public Defenders Office under Jeff Adachi, and everybody I've encountered from that office from Jeff on down has given me a favorable impression of having their hearts and minds in the right place when it comes to standing up for civil liberties, against police and prison abuses, etc.

  I think the establishment may be afraid he could win – mayor Breed just appointed rival Suzy Loftus to be temporary D.A., a move that coming this close before the election seems pretty unnecessary and looks like a blatant attempt to give Loftus an edge in the vote.

Love & Liberty,

((( starchild )))