The San Francisco mayoral race has gone from dull to dramatic this month with Mayor Ed Lee and Public Defender Jeff Adachi joining the slate of candidates vying to become the city’s next Mayor. Add to this dynamic, the fact that this is our city’s first truly competitive mayoral race to use public financing and Rank Choice Voting (RCV), and all bets are off when it comes to predicting who may occupy Room 200 come November.
Thus far, the media has largely focused on insider-politics and the “civility” of the race. Headlines of campaign banter have quite literally dominated the news the past two weeks. As our city continues to face lingering unemployment and persistent fiscal challenges, isn’t it time we shift the focus of the race to issues like jobs and the economy?
That’s exactly what happened Tuesday night at the Mayoral Candidate Debate hosted by the Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth and broadcast by Comcast. Presented in partnership with the Chamber and other business and labor groups, the night’s discussion focused on job and economic issues such as the city’s business tax, pension reform and key developments like the California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) rebuild and the Parkmerced project.
Thoughtful insights from the candidates were revealed throughout the evening. For example, when it comes to the city’s economic future, Board President David Chiu highlighted the need for wholesale business tax reform. Former Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier suggested the city explore new job-boosting incentives, such as the successful biotech payroll tax exclusion. Former Supervisor Bevan Dufty discussed the decimation of African-American businesses and the need for a black agenda to help create jobs. Senator Leland Yee would like to assign case managers to businesses so that City Hall can better respond to potential problems before businesses decide to move out of the city.
Infrastructure and transportation were also recurring topics. City Attorney Dennis Herrera strongly advocated for the rebuilding of the city’s hospitals – especially (CPMC) – to meet seismic safety standards and to attract and retain an educated workforce. Mayor Lee came out against congestion pricing and suggested that programs such as SFPark and methods to incentivize public transportation use would be more effective in mitigating traffic. Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting said he supports Prop. B (The Street Repair Bond), but is still concerned the city is not setting aside enough revenue for maintenance. And nearly all the candidates expressed the importance of efficient transportation and pledged it among their priorities.
From condo conversion to family flight, Tuesday’s debate went beyond campaign pitch lines and engaged our leading candidates in a true dialogue about the issues important to our city. The Chamber applauds our business, labor and civic partners in the Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth for organizing the debate. We also thank all the candidates who participated, and applaud them for making it a professional and thoughtful dialogue as voters begin to focus on the November election. Now, let’s keep the focus of this race on jobs, the economy and issues critical to San Francisco.
The Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth Mayoral Debate is available on demand from Comcast on Hometown Network Channel 104.