The next election

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EDITORIAL This week's dismal election in San Francisco is a symptom of deeper problems in our political system, both here and across the country. It isn't voter apathy that caused what is expected to be record low turnout at the polls. It was an understandable loss of faith in an electoral system dominated by money and insider political games. And that's what we need to address before the next election.

Three of the four officeholders on the Nov. 5 had no opposition, while Dist. 4 Sup. Katy Tang had only token opposition from someone new to town with no relevant experience. Why would these important, coveted, well-paying jobs have no applicants? Because the cost of admission is just too high, and it looks to many observers like the fix is in.

Tang and Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu were each appointed to their posts by Mayor Ed Lee, and it is because of that connection that they were able to raise nearly $200,000 each, the most in this field of experienced office-holders. They also unfairly benefited from the power of incumbency, which can be formidable (as Lee knows, given that he was appointed mayor on the condition that he wouldn't run for office, breaking that pledge and spending millions of dollars to win the 2011 mayor's race).

We need a better system, one that the power brokers who put Lee into office can't game as easily as they do. Maybe we should hold special elections for each vacancy, with shorter campaigns requiring less fundraising and thus opening up the field. Alternatively, we could make all appointees temporary caretakers and prohibit them from immediately running for a full term.

We should also limit how much developers can spend on political campaigns pushing their projects. The $2 million that Pacific Waterfront Partners just spent selling the 8 Washington luxury condo project to voters — particularly the deceptions and limits on reviews by the Planning Department in Prop. B — was obscene and unfair. But it was a smart investment on seeking profits of more than 50 times that figure.

In the post-Citizens United world, where money equals speech, there are legal barriers to doing what needs to be done. But we need to be creative and aggressive at pushing for political reform, from public financing, spending caps, and greater disclosure on campaigns to reforming the City Charter to end our strong mayor form of government, from his appointments to commissions and elective offices to the unchecked power that he has to control the spending of public money.

If we want to woo voters back to the polls, we need to give them something to vote for, and a package of political reforms would be a good place to start.

UPDATE: This editorial was corrected to fix a misspelling of Katy Tang's last name. 

 

Comments

the Citizens United ruling helps them do that.

You were happy for those wealthy plutocrats who paid for the signature gathering on 8-Wash to buy an election.

Oh, but when the other side does it, it is wrong? Get out of here.

The incumbents were unopposed because nobody on the left was a credible candidate. Even so, you guys should have found someone to stand. Don't blame others for your cowardice.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 05, 2013 @ 5:54 pm

and you are just being an envious, poor loser

how do you live with so much bitterness, hate and envy inside you?

Posted by glk on Nov. 06, 2013 @ 9:08 am

"Tang," you dumbfucks. Jeezus, is the Canadian money not good enough to buy someone with enough sense to look up the name?

Posted by Your Mother on Nov. 05, 2013 @ 9:50 pm

It's spelled "Tang" but them again why take the time to get to know a candidate when you can just discredit her run based off fundraising prowess? Having seen Katy interacting with the community myself, it's truly incredible the amount of support that she has based off of her work for Carmen. I'm glad to call her my supervisor."

Posted by D4 on Nov. 05, 2013 @ 11:22 pm

It's spelled "Tang" but them again why take the time to get to know a candidate when you can just discredit her run based off fundraising prowess? Having seen Katy interacting with the community myself, it's truly incredible the amount of support that she has based off of her work for Carmen. I'm glad to call her my supervisor."

Posted by D4 on Nov. 05, 2013 @ 11:22 pm

It has vitamin C and that special GMO taste. Good with waffles in the morning.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 05, 2013 @ 11:49 pm

Have you ever thought that the reason people didn't run against Tang (and previously Chu) was because they're *gasp* extremely popular in the Sunset? She works on nuts and bolt issues like trying to shut down massage parlors, fixing neighborhood parks, and bringing in new businesses. That's what people in her district care about. Not putting forth non-binding resolutions that complain about musical categories that the Grammys got rid of.

Per the BG's own endorsement page: "In a predominantly Chinese district, where voters tend to be more conservative, Tang is a consistently moderate vote who grew up in the district and speaks Mandarin." What would possibly make you think that the citizens of the Sunset would want to elect a progressive? Did you also complain when Campos ran against only token opposition? Or is that somehow different because he's one of yours?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 4:49 pm

crowed about how it was a massive endorsement of progressive ideology. But if Tang, Wiener or Farrell run unopposed it is a tragedy or a felony.

It just never occurs to SFBG that a majority of voters was practical adminstrators who work on real nitty-gritty day-to-day issues rather than ideological zealots who want to use the city subsumed into a launchpad for a global socialist revolution.

And then they wonder why they lose the mayoral race 60-40.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 5:01 pm

From this whine fest

"Three of the four officeholders on the Nov. 5 had no opposition, while Dist. 4 Sup. Katy Teng had only token opposition from someone new to town with no relevant experience. Why would these important, coveted, well-paying jobs have no applicants? Because the cost of admission is just too high, and it looks to many observers like the fix is in."

from just over a year ago

http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2012/08/16/guess-whos-unopposed-supervisor

"Here's an interesting fact to think about: There are exactly two people running unopposed for the SF Board of Supervisors, two people whose constituents support them strongly enough that nobody thinks a challenge would be effective (or necessary). And those are two supes who have consistently stuck to the progressive agenda and uncompromising progressive politics. They've done exactly what they promised to do four years ago; they haven't moved to the center, haven't tried to redefine their politics ... they are who they are. And that works.

Just worth noting."

=====

It cracks me up that the revealed wisdom of progressives is that everyone else is dumb and has no sense of history.

Posted by Matlock on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 5:42 pm

Dude, no offence but noting the hypocrisy of the Bay Guardian is like writing speeding tickets at a Nascar race.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 6:16 pm

I suppose part is entertainment value, and part is how self righteous they are in every respect.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 08, 2013 @ 3:24 pm

for decades now - district-based elections, ranked-choice voting, public financing and on and on and on. They're STILL not getting the results they want on a consistent basis - therefore "we need a better system - one which delivers what we want all the time, not some of the time."

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 6:06 pm

I think that the goal now is to ensure that the corrupt forces that are currently able to buy elections are prevented from buying elections in the future. That appeals to a much broader constituency that the SFBG progressive stalwarts.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 6:46 pm

I ran a short active campaign with real endorsements and the votes haven't even been tallied. I'm pissed that the Guardian missed me and didn't do any research. I called you out on it. I got no response. This paper used to be the one "Raising Hell". What the hell happened? Look for a ballot initiative next election and wake up.

I'm reading the Sunset Beacon.
http://murphy4supe.wordpress.com/2013/11/08/a-tough-row-to-hoe/

Posted by Mike Murphy on Nov. 09, 2013 @ 3:07 pm

I'm pissed that the Guardian totally missed me. I ran an active campaign with significant formal endorsements as a Write-In Candidate.

I called you on it and got no response.

Look for a ballot initiative next time around. And, Wake Up.

At least the Sunset Beacon picked up the story. My votes have not been tallied.

Posted by Mike Murphy on Nov. 09, 2013 @ 3:12 pm

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