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First Monday

Public Affairs


Mayoral candidates address students, faculty, staff

October 29, 2003

Photo of Gavin Newsom being interviewed by a student reporterAs the race for San Francisco mayor hits high gear with the primary election next week, all nine candidates addressed the major issues facing the city at a forum held Monday afternoon in Jack Adams Hall.

Approximately 200 students, faculty and staff attended the forum and heard candidates respond to questions on: homelessness, public transportation, the economic recession and its impact on students and recent graduates, and the outlook for San Francisco under the state leadership of Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger. Candidates were given 20 minutes each to outline their platforms and answer questions from the audience.

Most candidates addressed homelessness by either supporting or denouncing Proposition M, a controversial ballot initiative that would outlaw many incidences of panhandling. Supervisor Gavin Newsom, considered the front-runner in the race, defended his sponsorship of Proposition M by explaining that the homeless issue has not been managed well by politicians thus far.

"I cannot explain away and sit back as elected officials do nothing to help people turn their lives around. I don't think it's compassionate to continue the policies of the status quo particularly as it relates to chronic homelessness," Newsom said.

Jim Reid, a building contractor, suggested an alternative to Proposition M: allocating city resources to create affordable housing.

"I'm running for mayor because I don't think any of my fellow candidates are going to build housing and solve the homeless problem by building houses," Reid said. "If I am elected mayor, we will house the homeless; we will get the homeless off the streets."

Supervisor Tom Ammiano received applause from the audience by advocating that MUNI should be discounted or free for students. Candidates Angela Alioto and Matt Gonzalez also proposed MUNI discounts for disabled persons, children, and senior citizens, though neither specifically mentioned college students at the forum.

Candidates also fielded questions from the audience, which focused primarily on Supervisor Chris Daly's recent appointment of two members to the Public Utilities Commission while serving as San Francisco's acting mayor and the recent corruption and brutality scandals in the San Francisco Police Department.

Photo of Tony Ribera talking to a studentResponding to Daly's actions, Susan Leal, treasurer of San Francisco, agreed with most candidates by criticizing how the appointments were made while supporting the qualifications of Daly's appointees.

Angela Alioto, a civil rights attorney, proposed that appointing a female police chief would be an important step toward solving problems in the police department.

"If a cop on the street doesn't understand that he cannot mistreat anybody because of the color of their skin, the place they're born, their disability, their sexual orientation, or their age, then you've got people who don't understand the civil rights laws," Alioto said. "It needs to be fixed. So I am going to appoint a strong woman chief of police."

For Mission resident and senior Natasha Kunian, 27, knowing the candidates' approaches to homelessness is a lead factor in determining who to vote for.

"Social services are very important for me, so I don't want a candidate who is going to cut social services," said Kunian, a social work major. "I want a candidate who doesn't try to simplify the issue of homelessness and sees it as a societal issue and doesn't point a finger to individuals who are homeless." She is still undecided.

Like other students who attended the event, Kunian must choose a candidate quickly, as the election is less than one week away. Unless one candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, there will be a runoff election Dec. 9 between the two candidates who receive the most votes Nov. 4.

Candidates Michael Denny, a company president; Tony Ribera, an educator and public administrator; and Roger Schulke, a computer company executive, were also in attendance at Monday's forum.

The forum was sponsored by the Golden Gate [X]Press and Society of Professional Journalists.

-- Matt Itelson with Public Affairs Student Writer Javier Jimenez


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Last modified October 29, 2003, by the Office of Public Affairs