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1. Please explain your campaign platform in 20 words or less. Pay attention to the basics so we fix the big picture. 2. Please list your votes on the local November ballot measures School Bonds – Yes Road Repaving and Street Paving Bonds – Yes (we need to fund these improvements every year, not using bond funds) Pension Reform: Lee supported version – Yes Adachi Initiative – No Amending Initiative Ordinances and Policy Declaration – Yes Campaign Consultant Disclosures – Yes School District Student Assignment System – No 3. What is the worst budgetary problem in San Francisco and how will you address it? There has been much discussion of increasing pension costs. I am very supportive of the pension reform plan put forward by Supervisor Elsbernd in partnership with labor unions and am confident that the proposed modest changes to the health service board will enable even more savings over the long term. As mayor, I will focus on bringing down health care costs by implementing smart preventative health measures to curb obesity and help employees stop smoking. Preventative health measures work- and healthier public employees means better city services for all San Franciscans. 4. What are your plans to attract and retain businesses in San Francisco? I will start by meeting with business leaders who are located in San Francisco, thanking them for their commitment to our city, and engaging them in my economic development strategy. I recently met with John Stumpf, CEO of Wells Fargo, and was dismayed that he has not felt thanked by a mayor for keeping his jobs in San Francisco. We have a braintrust of business leaders, and it is time to actively seek their guidance in how we invest this money to improve our city. This involves execution of large events like America’s Cup, as well as the day-to-day investments in our school system. As supervisor, I worked with many local entrepreneurs — from restaurateurs to biotech innovators— who spent too much time and money jumping over hurdles. I co-sponsored legislation to support three targeted payroll tax exemptions focused on creating biotech jobs for San Franciscans, and allowed biotech firms to pay permit fees once they had their certificate of occupancy rather than at groundbreaking. These measures increased the biotech presence from 2 firms to 73 firms and created over 3,000 new jobs. As mayor, I will continue to leverage my years of experience with city processes to focus on common sense reform and streamlining regulations so that businesses can open faster.
5. Do you support San Francisco giving tax breaks to businesses that agree to locate in economically distressed areas such as the Tenderloin district or Mid-Market area? Yes — By encouraging growth in areas of the economy like New Media and Biotech, we are investing in our economic future. I believe the Twitter payroll tax break will help revitalize the Mid-Market area and boost The City as an economic force. In this economy, it would be irresponsible to turn away high paying jobs—particularly in an area of The City with high crime and blight. We must make more systemic changes to the payroll tax system in the long term. I would like to see the tax burden on business lessened and to instill a certain level of parity across industries so that we don’t have pockets of the business community that are overburdened. I have spoken frequently with our excellent City Treasurer, Jose Cisneros, about taking the approach that Los Angeles used to reform business taxes. They brought in an outside consultant and worked methodically over three years to formulate a plan then approved by voters overwhelmingly. I would like for Treasurer Cisneros and Controller Ben Rosenfield to lead a similar effort involving the board, mayor and stakeholders. 6. What proposals do you have for creating job growth in The City? When I talk to people around San Francisco, their primary concerns are jobs and the future of our city’s economy. In order to get more jobs in San Francisco, we need have great schools that train students for tomorrow’s economy. The future of our economy is linked with our ability to improve our public school system. My child starts public school this year—I will be the nation’s most active mayor collaborating for great public education. I will continue my work connecting private sector resources to our schools so that our youth can excel in the high-tech and science corridors of our economy. I will tap into our excellent brain trust of business and labor leaders who have a stake in our city’s future, and engage them in the development of programs like the vocational training at John O’Connell High School, the Athletic Scholar Advance Program at Mission High School, and the Biotechnology Academy at Lincoln High School. If we can improve our schools, employers will be more apt to locate in San Francisco and attract the best talent. I see schools as crucial not only for the economy of today, but also for the foundation of our city’s economy in the future. 7. Do you support San Francisco’s policy of requiring contractors who bid on large public projects to guarantee that a significant percentage (at least 20%) of the work will be performed by city residents? Yes – I was the eighth vote on the Local Hire legislation. I believe this legislation was carefully crafted to secure jobs for San Franciscans and stimulate the local economy. After careful review by the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, it is estimated that local hire will generate over 300 new jobs for San Franciscans per year. In addition, the legislation is expected to generate nearly $177 million for the general fund over the next 10 years.
8. Over the past decade, growth in the salary and benefits of city employees has forced the city to reduce services in a variety of areas. Are city employees overpaid? Are benefits too generous? If so, what can be done about this? There is no reason our city workforce can’t be as competitive and dynamic as the great companies in the Bay Area. I will be a mayor at the bus and rail yards, and meeting regularly with employees from every department. I will motivate and uplift our workforce so that every San Franciscan can walk out of their door and see their city working for them. A resident in Glen Park asked me how I’d spend my first day as mayor, and I told her I’d go visit the child welfare workers. Here are individuals faced with the most difficult situations including violence and abuse that face our city, that operate every day with very little pay and even less appreciation and support. We don’t need to cut paychecks; we need to listen to the people on our front lines, promote talent from within, and stop spending millions on out-of-town managers that are simply out of touch with San Francisco. We have a health care crisis that that is challenging our bottom line. As I wrote above, I believe an aggressive shift toward preventative care is necessary to keep costs down, and ensure that our employees are healthy and able to come to work. As mayor, it will be my responsibility to showcase to The City how a respected and wellrun workforce can deliver top-notch services. I believe in the thousands of hard-working individuals who are keeping our streets clean, our children safe, and our buses operating, and know that I can do a better job motivating and managing the workforce to get the results that The City needs. 9. The state could soon allow cities and counties to add more local taxes. What additional taxes, if any, would you propose for San Francisco? I am very interested in finding a way to fund the undergrounding of utility lines, and would consider working with businesses, neighborhood groups, environmental groups and utility companies to find a revenue-generating opportunity to fund these improvements. 10. What should be done to make Muni more efficient? What changes should be made to address the MTA’s annual operating deficit? Muni requires a mayor's daily attention and dedication as well as long-term vision. I will be a mayor standing at the bus and rail divisions, talking with Operators as well as regular riders, and insisting that we not just be a transit-first city in words but in deeds. I ride Muni almost every day, and have dedicated a large part of my working life to transportation policy at the federal level in Los Angeles and San Francisco. I am excited to lead our city toward high-speed rail, the Central Subway, Transbay Terminal, and increased transit-oriented housing and commercial development. As supervisor and chair of the Transportation Authority, I successfully pushed the MTA to build a new central Transportation Management Center that will streamline operations.
I launched the Transit Effectiveness Project after a Controller audit of the J-Church line revealed significant structural defects in the system as a whole. As mayor, I will expedite both the system improvements and capital projects advised by the Transportation Effectiveness Plan (TEP). I will work at length with the communities throughout the planning process, ensuring that these transportation solutions are integrated with community input. TEP will massively overhaul the way our transit system works, providing a Muni that has less ancillary stops, improved route frequency and builds out new capital projects promptly that will improve mobility across San Francisco. These larger policy goals must be supported with a strong commitment to basic maintenance of and investment in our fleet. I will work with my fellow mayors to push forward an urban agenda that includes a redesign of the federal allocation of transportation dollars. 11. Homelessness still seems to be the foremost topic on the minds of voters. What's your plan to get people off the streets, especially when they refuse help? I strongly supported Care Not Cash and Mayor Gavin Newsom's Housing First approach that dramatically expanded supportive housing. But the public can see there is work left to do. There are individuals on our streets who either refuse service, are too debilitated by multiple conditions or are falling through the cracks. This has eroded public faith that our city can effectively address homelessness. I'm proud of my work in this area: Establishing the Castro Young Adult Housing Collaborative for 26 homeless youth; Funding neighborhood-based homeless outreach/case management teams; Establishing case managers at the Main Library; and Securing Board approval for the highly successful Community Justice Center. My approach as mayor will focus on prevention for our transitional youth, developing Wet Housing for the most chronically homeless and restructuring our courts’ approach to habitual offenders. Transitional Youth San Francisco has 80,000 young people between the ages of 16 and 24. This has become an increasingly difficult time of life. In order to prevent future homelessness, we must bring our most disengaged youth back into the education system, continue to improve our juvenile justice system and focus our employment programs on the youth facing the greatest barriers. As mayor I will prioritize services for these young people, especially the 10 percent who are at highest risk of unemployment, homelessness, or involvement in the criminal justice system. In 2005, I partnered with Larkin Street, LYRIC, LGBT Center, Dimensions Health Clinic and New Leaf to initiate the Castro Youth Housing Initiative. Using a residential hotel at 15th/Sanchez we are providing up to 26 young adults with housing and supportive
services. This initiative was created with the strong support of local merchants and neighborhood groups, and their collaboration with service providers has made this a model program I will replicate in other areas of The City. Wet Housing Despite the success of Care Not Cash, we continue to see the same individuals on our streets every day. In San Francisco we spend $13.5m annually on the top 225 chronic public inebriates, involving shelter, emergency room, jail and paramedic costs. I believe we can contain these costs and decrease the number of people living on our streets by implementing pre-treatment or “Wet Housing” Wet Housing is a harm-reduction housing model where residents have access to alcohol and medical services. This approach has been successful in New York City and Seattle — Seattle saved $4 million in the first year after opening 75 units, and the housing has kept people out of emergency rooms and jails, and off the streets. Restructuring Our Courts The SFPD continues to struggle with habitual offenders — the chronically homeless who urinate in public, create encampments in our parks and sleep in our doorsteps. I commissioned the Controller to study our infraction system — there are about 13,000 infractions issued by SFPD, and about 25 percent are clients represented by pro bono attorneys with the Coalition on Homeless. These infractions have no effect and are costing millions of dollars. I believe that this is an area ready for major reform and restructuring. I championed the Community Justice Center (CJC) that has been a tremendous success addressing habitual narcotics and other offenders in the Civic Center/SOMA/Downtown areas. I am committed to District Attorney George Gascon's approach of Neighborhood Courts to ensure accountability for low-level offenders to seek help or provide community service. We can work together to improve the outcomes for homeless individuals seeking services — but we must also keep faith with the taxpayers who are entitled to approaches that are fiscally responsible and effective. I am eager to meet this challenge and restore faith, fairness and efficiency. 12. In 2010, The City amended its Police Code to prohibit sitting or lying on a public sidewalk in San Francisco between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., with certain exceptions. Do you support this policy? I did not support Sit/Lie when it was on the ballot. We have laws on the books that ought to be enforced before we go to this degree. I championed the Community Justice Court and strongly support District Attorney George Gascon’s Community Court program. 12. Do you support the Parkmerced and CMPC developments as currently proposed? Parkmerced is projected to create 1,600 permanent on-site jobs and 550 indirect and induced permanent jobs and 35,000 construction-related jobs for the duration. After
completion, the development will bring a positive annual economic impact of $310 million per year. This is exactly the type of development we need to keep families in San Francisco, and to keep our economy strong. I recognize that the CPMC plan could provide a $2.3 billion boom to our local economy, and jobs for many San Franciscans during the construction. If elements of The City proposal are accepted, CPMC would fund $18 million worth of streetscape and pedestrian safety upgrades in the Tenderloin and Mission neighborhoods. In addition they’d invest $10 million toward planned bus rapid-transit facilities on Van Ness and Geary Boulevard. However, I am concerned about the budgetary implications and shift of responsibility regarding indigent care. To gain my support, CPMC must commit to operate St. Luke’s for at least 20 years, and continue to invest in the care for many neighborhoods that rely upon it. Without a solid financial commitment, this burden could be shifted to SF General and the General Fund. 13. Do you support increasing the number of permits to allow the conversion of rental properties into condos? Absolutely. I believe there are clear revenue possibilities within the condo conversion realm. TIC owners like myself are eager and willing to step up with cash to convert units into condos – this can raise millions of dollars for the General Fund. 14. Some people in San Francisco think that all tenants should be protected by rent control, regardless of the tenant’s income or wealth. Other people in San Francisco think that tenants should be protected by rent control only if they are lower or middle class, and cannot afford to pay market-level rents. What is your opinion on this issue? As supervisor, I sustained 22 mayoral vetoes – eight of which were expansions of rent control. I believe the current real estate market in San Francisco is heavily regulated. I support the intent of rent control, but over regulation has led to bad actors and has translated into economic handcuffs — particularly for small property owners. My goal as mayor will be to find common ground and consensus between landlords and tenants. Property owners need renters and vice versa. Among my ideas are a training for new and ongoing Section 8 participants that focus on how to be a good tenant and what are the responsibilities of a good landlord. I’m hoping this approach can encourage property owners that have not previously considered Section 8 tenants to open their inventory, thus improving the lives of those with vouchers. Too often, city government focuses on the extremes; I want to work with property owners, tenants groups other stakeholders to change this dynamic. 15. In 2009, San Francisco began turning over undocumented youths arrested for felonies to federal immigration authorities for possible deportation. The Board of Supervisors subsequently directed The City not to turn over undocumented youths unless they have been convicted of a felony, rather than simply arrested. What is your opinion on this issue?
As the son of a Jewish immigrant who fled Czechoslovakia, I understand those who come here to gain access to a better life. I support policies that allow undocumented immigrants to live transparently in San Francisco. Public education, safety and health benefit when all San Franciscans can work, live, and access city services without fear. In 2009, I was the swing vote to overturn Mayor Gavin Newsom’s veto of Supervisor David Campos’ amendment to the Sanctuary Ordinance, prohibiting city law enforcement from reporting juvenile offenders to federal officials until after their felony conviction. I also voted to oppose ICE’s “Secure Communities” program in San Francisco. I know two Mission High School students who were sent to a Deportation Center for non-violent felonies; one brought a toy gun to school because of gang harassment and the other shook down a fellow student for $0.73. When dealing with juveniles, particularly around non-violent crimes, I feel strongly that there must be a conviction prior to ICE referral. 16. More than 5,000 children have left San Francisco over the last decade. What's your plan to keep families living in San Francisco? As a father and as mayor, I will work hard to promote San Francisco as a livable city for families of all shapes and sizes by supporting early childhood education, the public school system, and developing more family-friendly affordable housing. Early Childcare Only 51 percent of parents seeking licensed childcare can find it. We’ve successfully developed many affordable housing units in South of Market — none of it having childcare. This is why I sponsored legislation mandating feasibility studies for childcare in any development where there is city involvement that exceeds 50,000 square feet. Improving SFUSD One of my first priorities will be to align our city’s resources to support the academic goals of each school in SFUSD. Every city department should be oriented to support our public schools so that students and families get the full range of services available — from school security to health clinics to after school programming — in a coordinated and strategic way. As mayor, I will focus on spending our city dollars to support our schools’ success. Our education system can support our youth to excel in the growing fields of biotechnology, clean and green technology and digital media. I believe that San Francisco can be the first city to bridge the opportunity gap by building these new economies. We need to create opportunities for our young people to receive the education and training they need for their careers – from pre-K to Ph.D. – so they can stay and thrive in San Francisco. My child started public school on Aug. 15 – I will be the nation's most active mayor collaborating for great public education. I was a strong supporter of Prop H, and will champion the passage of the School Bond Measure on the ballot this fall. We must work harder to make every neighborhood school a great choice. Creating more language
immersion schools is definitely one means to expand quality school choices and keep families in our City. Creating Family-Friendly Affordable Housing Access to high-quality affordable housing with access to childcare, transit, and open space is key to keeping families in The City. As supervisor, I sponsored legislation to allow in lieu fees to be congregated in order to acquire land in more expensive neighborhoods such as the Castro to be developed for affordable housing. I strongly supported the two unsuccessful bond campaigns, and as mayor will pledge to go to voters in 2012 with an affordable housing bond. I support building new high-quality affordable housing throughout San Francisco, including major developments like Parkmerced and the recently approved Treasure Island plan. 17. What are your plans to curb gang violence in The City? First, I will invest in prevention. San Francisco has 80,000 young people between the ages of 16 and 24. This has become an increasingly difficult time of life, especially for the 10 percent who are at highest risk of unemployment, homelessness, or involvement in the criminal justice system. These disconnected youth require high-quality comprehensive services and I’ve worked consistently to secure funding and implement great programs that serve young people in this age group. After two Mission High School students were murdered, I worked closely with Principal Kevin Truitt and Athletic Director Scott Kennedy to create a program to cultivate a college-bound culture by providing access to summer college programs, one-on-one mentoring, individualized academic guidance and college counseling services. I invited 49ers owners Denise DeBartolo and John York to participate, and their financial support has been an incredible launching point for the program. Now called Mission ASAP (Athletic Scholar Advancement Program), this program has helped triple the rate of Mission High students graduating ready for a four-year college — most of these students are the first in their family to attend college. I have worked closely to improve outcomes for young moms attending Hilltop High School. I held hearings to draw attention to Hilltop and its unique ability to improve outcomes for two generations at once. This attention has ensured that Hilltop remains a unique high school educating young moms and providing on-site child development/care. As mayor, I will champion successful programs like ASAP, Hilltop High School and Kindergarten to College and actively work to connect them with private sector supporters. I will build on innovative initiatives like SF Promise, which provides underachieving students with educational support and guarantees admission to SF State University; and the Center for Academic Re-entry and Empowerment (CARE), a successful anti-truancy program in the Bayview run by the Bayview YMCA. I will focus our employment programs on the transitional age and disconnected youth facing the greatest barriers, providing training and job-readiness services.
When prevention fails, I will rely on our excellent SFPD to provide strong leadership on the streets, and our District Attorney to continue the innovative and effective Neighborhood Courts system.
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