Short Cuts

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Election Results

Much ink has been bled interpreting Chesa Boudin’s recall by 55 percent of San Francisco voters. Most believe that Boudin was a sacrificial lamb for pitchfork-carrying residents looking for something, or someone, to burn. But why were we so mad? The City’s crime rate is low by historical standards; the population of those without shelter declined modestly over the past couple of years. Voters’ howls might best be explained as a stew of long simmering disgust. One ingredient was the San Francisco Unified School District’s dreadful handling of the pandemic, and its rushed decision to change Lowell High School’s admission rules. These enraged the Asian-American electorate, who also became fearful of anti-Asian violence, an anxiety that was fertilized by former President Trump’s denouncement of the “Chinese virus” and realized by the 2021 murder of a Thai immigrant in the Anza Vista neighborhood. Middle- and upper-income white people have long been alienated by a school district that they don’t send their kids to, disgruntled that the City was stolen by the tech crowd, and offended by City Hall’s incompetent or corrupt handling of people in distress, unpleasant street behavior and litter. These emotions were fanned with campaign contributions by Republicans resentful that they’ve been sidelined by local and state politics…Beneath the surface of an unsettled electorate is the emergence of the next big thing: health care and the biotechnology revolution. Over the last ten years employment in health care and social services in San Francisco jumped from 92,000 to 117,500, a 28 percent increase. Not so long-ago Mission Bay and Dogpatch were dominated by the detritus of past railroads and empty warehouses. Today, it’s Downtown that’s empty; the tech crowd decamping to Hawaii, Los Angeles, or Lake Tahoe. San Francisco’s center of gravity, art and entertainment has shifted south. The zeitgeist breed here – Dogpatch’s grit; Potrero Hill’s neighborliness; Mission Bay’s scientific humanism – will define the future.