With District 10 San Francisco Board of Supervisor, Malia Cohen, termed out of office in January, the race is on to fill her soon to be vacated seat. Now that London Breed has been elected mayor, media attention has shifted to the November poll, in which supervisorial Districts 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 are in contention. Unlike the last time District 10 residents cast their votes, reelecting an incumbent won’t be an option. Six candidates – Uzuri Pease-Greene, Shamann Walton, Asale-Haquekyah Chandler, Tony Kelly, Theo Ellington and Gloria Berry – are on the ballot. Neo Veavea is running as a write-in candidate.
Despite announcing his candidacy for supervisor earlier this year, Potrero Boosters president, J.R. Eppler, recently dropped out of the race, citing increased workload related to his law practice. Eppler said he remains interested in serving the neighborhood and City in any way he can. He has yet to endorse another contender. “I’ll support the candidate who can best articulate a vision for the District, who can balance the needs of existing and new residents and ensure that we get a mix of necessary resources to support our growing population,” commented Eppler.
According to Eppler, the most important issues facing the District are housing unaffordability, displacement of existing residents, and inadequate provision of basic City services, such as transit, open space, public safety and libraries. He also pointed to lingering nuclear waste contamination at the Hunters Point Shipyard and hydrocarbon pollution as concerns.
In addition to working as a community organizer for Bridge Housing for the past eight years, Uzuri Pease-Greene, 53, said she tries to assist her Dakota Street neighbors by delivering food to those in need. Greene said she was encouraged by friends, neighbors and police officers in her community to run for supervisor. In 2017 she graduated from Emerge, a training program aimed at increasing the number of Democratic women in public office.
In response to widespread feelings in the District that Cohen has been difficult to reach throughout her two terms, Greene wants to make the supervisor’s office more accessible. She hopes to enlist volunteers from each neighborhood, including homeowners, merchants, youth, low-income individuals and police officers to help communicate community concerns. “I’m not using this as a platform to run for further office,” said Greene. “I’m running to echo the voices of my neighbors. People are frustrated by increasing car break-ins and homelessness. I want to help reduce the number of homeless individuals on the streets and simultaneously work with supervisors of other Districts on this issue.”
Pease-Greene is one of four supervisorial candidates appealing a decision to deny them matching funds because they didn’t file paperwork stating their intent to participate in the public financing program on time.
Shamann Walton, 43, wants to make District 10 more affordable for low income people and provide homeless individuals with greater access to supportive and permanent housing. He believes that people should be able to live and work in their neighborhoods, which requires increasing supplies of reasonably-priced shelter and improving the transit system. Walton said he’ll use his experiences working as the director of Potrero Hill Family Resource Center, executive director of Young Community Developers and serving on the San Francisco Board of Education, including as board president, to enable families who live in the District to stay in the District.
Walton was a proponent of Proposition O, passed in 2016, which exempted office developments in Candlestick Point and Hunters Point from municipal caps on new commercial space. He believes similar initiatives can create stable jobs for residents, as well as more room for nonprofit organizations, small businesses, and affordable housing. Walton said he’d prioritize implementing effective community policing strategies, so that officers spend more quality time in communities and get to know the people they serve. He wants to work with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to add more Muni express buses to the District’s major corridors, such as Third Street; build more Navigation Centers to fight homelessness; and increase the fees paid by developers to fund more public infrastructure. “I work well with people and am able to bring people together,” said Walton. “I’m the person who can bridge the gap between the neighborhoods of District 10. No neighborhood will be ignored under my watch.”
Asale-Haquekyah Chandler is a community activist who helped organize the first parade for Black History Month in Bayview last February. Chandler lost her 19-year-old son, Yalani Chinyamurindi, in 2015 when he was killed by gun violence while on a break during work in the Western Addition. Chandler didn’t respond to a request for comment for this article.
In his third attempt to become supervisor, Tony Kelly, 55, Potrero Hill Democratic Club president, feels confident he’s established a strong base of trust among District 10 residents. “I’m tired of my neighbors getting pushed out and tired of my neighbors having shorter lives,” said Kelly. “We’re in such a wealthy city. No one in San Francisco should be sleeping on the street or have polluted water and air in their home.”
Kelly said he was encouraged to run by environmental advocates in Bayview who view nuclear waste contamination at Hunters Point as a top issue. Kelly voiced concerns a decade ago that efforts to clean-up the development site were dishonest. In 2009, he co-wrote an opinion piece in 48Hills.org with Alicia Garza (née Schwartz) that discussed the toxic dangers associated with Shipyard redevelopment plans. He, along with Walton, want the whole site retested for pollution. Cohen called for a hearing into problems plaguing the cleanup of radioactive material from the Hunters Point Shipyard after a federal report found contractors falsified soil sample data from the site to a much greater degree than previously known.
Kelly said the City isn’t doing enough to protect the health of residents, pointing to the 2016 San Francisco Community Health Assessment conducted by the Department of Public Health that indicated Bayview residents have a 14-year shorter life expectancy than those living in Nob Hill, which he attributes to environmental degradation.
If elected, Kelly wants to be accessible to constituents, and said he’d hold daily office hours. He said that prior to 2008 supervisors had a greater presence in the neighborhoods; since then elected officials, including Cohen, have acted more like politicians than community advocates and haven’t shown a high level of accountability to District residents.
Theo Ellington, 29, said he’s running because he wants to restore the idea that if you work hard and play by the rules you should be able to live the dream of having a good paying job and the opportunity to buy a home. He’s concerned that with the amount of growth coming to the District, inequities between those who can live the dream and those who are getting pushed out is worsening.
As supervisor, Ellington said he’d focus on tackling the homelessness problem, housing affordability and public safety. He views the core difficulties facing District 10 as stemming from inadequate shelter supplies, a lack of public transit, and a scarcity of neighborhood amenities, like grocery stores and open space. To maintain and foster community vitality, Ellington wants to bolster and retain small businesses in major corridors, such as Third Street, by helping to establish more merchants’ associations, expanding transit access and linking local businesses with grant opportunities.
“I’m not running to be something, I’m running to do something,” Ellington stated. “I’m the only candidate in the race with both private sector and public sector experience.” Ellington worked as the director of public affairs for the Golden State Warriors and was a commissioner for the Redevelopment Successor Agency. He currently serves on the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, which works to uphold the City’s anti-discrimination policies and equity agenda.
Ellington, who lives in The Shipyard, is suing developers Lennar Corporation and Five Point Holdings for selling town homes the companies “knew” were located on land that was “badly contaminated.”
Gloria Berry, 49, wants to accomplish three main goals as Supervisor: bolster funding for after-school and tutoring programs in District schools; increase the number of treatment facilities in the City and support for those living with addiction, an issue she views as closely tied to homelessness; and hold law enforcement officers accountable for the “unnecessary use of brutal force” against residents and pressure District Attorney George Gascon to charge officers who’ve committed murder. Berry described a situation in 2009 where an officer pulled a gun on her teenaged daughter despite seeking a male suspect.
“I’ve been a community advocate for most of my life and served for 13 years in the military,” said Berry. “I’ve been out in the neighborhoods introducing myself. I want to reach out and encourage everyone to register to vote and to vote on all issues and in every election. This is a very important election coming up.”
Neo Veavea, 61, has been a San Francisco resident for many decades and lived in several of the District’s neighborhoods for the past 35 years. He’s volunteered for the San Francisco Unified School District, was appointed to the District 10 Citizens Advisory Committee in 2008 by former Mayor Gavin Newsom, and to the LGBTQ Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Commission in 2012.
Veavea’s priority issues are safety, housing and employment. He wants to help residents feel secure in their neighborhoods, redefine the meaning of affordable housing based on the reality of local demographics, and equip San Franciscans to be part of the workforce through specialized job training. Veavea said his top priority would be to curb displacement of existing residents by initiating discussions about “responsible” versus “affordable” housing, as he said much of the affordable units being built aren’t within the financial reach of many long-time District 10 residents.