Noe Valley Voice November 2006

District 8 Supervisor Election Questionnaire

All 3 Candidates for Supervisor Pass the Voice Test

On Nov. 7, District 8 residents will again be asked to choose a representative on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. This time, three candidates are vying for the four-year term: incumbent Bevan Dufty, attorney Alix Rosenthal, and masseur Starchild. To spotlight their differences, the Voice sent them a 10-point quiz. Their thoughtful (and sometimes funny) answers are printed below. Because you can vote for all three--the election uses ranked-choice voting--we hope our Q&A will help you decide who to put on the top rung.
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1. Write a short autobiographical sketch. Please include personal and career highlights. Dufty: Raised in New York City by my mom, Maely. Wonderful childhood filled with jazz and civil rights activism. My godmother was Billie Holiday, and my mom managed Charlie Parker. In 1963, she worked for A. Philip Randolph as the fundraising coordinator for the March on Washington and then for the National Council of Negro Women. We moved to California in 1971 when I was 16, and I went to Cal. So my involvement in politics is hereditary. Rosenthal:
Hometown: Claremont, California
College: Northwestern University
Law School: University of Virginia
* Aide to Barbara Boxer 1995-96
* Associate at Thelen Reid & Priest, LLP 1999-2004--I represented tenants in eviction cases (pro bono).
* President of the S.F. Elections Commission 2003-04--I made difficult choices to get the department back on track.
* Deputy City Attorney for City of Oakland--I write legislation for the City Council and negotiate development deals.
* President of the National Women's Political Caucus (S.F. chapter)
* I live in Ashbury Heights with partner Steve Jones, our dog Martha, and Steve's kids part-time, Breanna (16) and Cicely (12).
Starchild: I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice... OK, just kidding! Actually, I'm a Bay Area native who grew up in the suburbs but was irresistibly drawn to San Francisco, where I've resided since 1995. I have a journalism degree from San Francisco State University. I've worked in movie theaters, retail clothing, warehouse assembly, and (believe it or not!) the U.S. Army Reserves. Currently I'm an escort, masseur, and exotic dancer. On my very first run for office in 2000, I was presciently called a "perennial candidate" by the San Francisco Independent. I'm bisexual and vegetarian.
2. What is the proper role of a San Francisco supervisor? Dufty: My job is both to be a district supervisor and a legislator and leader for our city. I solve individual problems and use that experience to address systemic issues within our city. I am proud of addressing neighborhood concerns and successfully shepherding projects, such as the renovation of the Noe Valley Branch Library and Upper Noe Recreation Center and the establishment of the Noe Valley Community Benefit District (e-mail city issues to Rosenthal: A supervisor's role is to be accessible, and to solve problems in the district and citywide, by writing legislation, by calling hearings, and by constituent services. Bevan has focused on the latter--he responds to problems one at a time after they occur, rather than identifying the root causes in order to prevent them in the future. As supervisor, I will implement a vision that fixes problems hundreds at a time, for future generations. Starchild: A supervisor should set a good example by throwing fun, free office parties, dressing in drag occasionally, taking the right kinds of drugs in moderation to keep things in perspective, behaving ethically, riding a bicycle, skateboard, or Segway to work, seeking to reduce his or her own salary, calling bureaucrats on their bullshit, appointing more libertarians, encouraging civil disobedience where appropriate, attending Burning Man, and above all, being a consistent voice and vote for freedom.
3. What are your top priorities if elected? Dufty: I serve as the Board of Supervisors' representative on the Transit Effectiveness Project, the most major assessment of how Muni delivers service in over 25 years. I am frustrated that Muni service declined this past year and am committed to bringing back service and reliability. I am endorsed by Rescue Muni. Other priorities include improving public schools and reforming our City's approach to capital projects, which too often uses contractors that run over budgets and schedules. Rosenthal: A housing market that shows the middle class the door; a transportation system in crisis; missed opportunities to improve the environment while saving people money, and violence prevention policies that consistently fail to protect our most vulnerable; city government is failing us. San Francisco should--and can--be more livable. My top priorities will be to protect our affordable housing, to get Muni back on track, to take bold steps in the direction of saving the environment, and to implement community policing in our neighborhoods. Starchild: Some of my top priorities if elected include:
* Decriminalizing marijuana and ending local "Drug War" enforcement
* Decriminalizing prostitution
* Capping city officials' salaries at $99,000/year
* Implementing voter-mandated cost-benefit analysis of proposed legislation
* Eliminating the local sales tax
* Holding police officers accountable for wrongful shootings and excessive force
* Upholding your right to self-defense
* De-funding all government public relations spending
* Protecting the rights of undocumented immigrants
* Creating more bicycle lanes
* Repealing leash laws, holding owners responsible for off-leash dogs
* Requiring competitive bidding for all city projects with a simple, transparent process
* Applying the Sunshine Ordinance to the SFPD and the School Board
4. What are the main transportation issues that will challenge District 8 in the future? How will you address them? Dufty: Transportation issues include reliability, cleanliness, accessibility, safety, and streetcar noise. As the Board's appointee to the Transportation Effectiveness Project (TEP) (, I am working with City Controller Ed Harrington, the director of the Municipal Transportation Authority, Nathaniel Ford, and numerous public transportation stakeholders to look at Muni comprehensively for the first time in over 20 years. The TEP will address all aspects of Muni as we look to improve our transit system from the top down. Rosenthal: The main issues are Muni and badly-managed traffic and congestion in our neighborhoods. Muni's staggering fiscal problems resulted in a 7 percent decrease in service last year. The worse Muni gets, the more people take to their cars, compounding our traffic congestion. The following changes are necessary: lower bus floors and smartcard passes to speed up boarding, and more transit-only lanes. Revenues from the Prop. E parking tax could pay for these fixes. Starchild: Low and zero-emission cars are the future, and we should meet that future with adequate parking. Driving around looking for parking worsens traffic and causes pollution now, and parking tickets are a regressive tax. Meanwhile, support alternative transportation by improving the bicycle lane network and decriminalizing skateboarding, skating, and Segways. Another challenge will be maintaining our privacy. Cameras are now on BART, Muni, and all taxis in San Francisco. This is a dangerous, Orwellian trend.
5. Although home prices are not rising as quickly as they have in recent years, home ownership in San Francisco remains out of reach for most middle-income people. Now, rental prices are going up too. What actions, if any, should the city take in response to these conditions? Dufty: I support the mayor's plan to build 15,000 new units of housing over five years (previous era there were about 1,000 new units built annually). I was vice chair of the Budget Committee this year, and we earmarked $20 million for affordable housing for families and seniors--the largest general fund allocation ever. I supported landmark legislation that penalizes Ellis Act evictions and created a Castro charrette process for community input on in-fill housing on Market Street. Rosenthal: I support rent control, and I am proud to be endorsed by the S.F. Tenants Union. I will work to make sure developers in the District are building the maximum amount of inclusionary housing. I will promote first-time buyer programs such as community land trusts and limited-equity cooperatives. I pledge to place limits on the use of the Ellis Act, and make it harder for real estate speculators to profit by the displacement of tenants. Starchild: Rewrite zoning laws to let people live in underused industrial and commercially zoned areas. Allow more condo conversions. Replace wasteful "affordable" housing programs with housing vouchers given directly to low-income residents. End rent control. It's no coincidence that U.S. cities with rent control have expensive rental housing. I say this as a tenant living in a rent-controlled apartment. And cut the bureaucracy and red tape to make building new housing easier and less expensive.
6. Noe Valley is considered one of the safest neighborhoods in the city, yet the Voice reports dozens of robberies, burglaries, and car thefts each month. What new approaches can the city adopt to reduce crime? Dufty: Drawing on years of city government experience, I work with District Captains John Goldberg for Noe Valley and Paul Chignell for Upper Noe for responsive community policing. Partnering with SAFE (, I initiated more block watches than any other supervisor. I supported recent foot patrol legislation and am endorsed by every public safety official and group (District Attorney Kamala Harris, Sheriff Mike Hennessey, the Police Officers Association, and SFPD Pride Alliance) because of my effectiveness on public safety. Rosenthal: Crime is best prevented in two ways--through community-based violence prevention programs and through community policing, including more foot and bike patrols. When the police interact directly with the neighborhood, crime decreases. I pledge to support community-based programs, such as those found in Prop. A from the June 2006 ballot. The incumbent opposed Prop. A, and he has shown no leadership on police reform, and he voted against expanding foot patrols to Noe Valley. Starchild: Where do I begin? Stop wasting police resources prosecuting people for things that shouldn't even be illegal, like marijuana and paid sex among consenting adults. Reduce the police presence at peaceful festivals and political demonstrations. Get the police out of their cars and doing more foot patrols. Deter violent crime by letting people carry handguns for self-defense, as is our Constitutional right. And require convicted criminals to apologize and to provide restitution to their victims.
7. Many Noe Valley families leave San Francisco once their kids reach school age. How do you explain this? What, if anything, should the city do about it? Dufty: My daughter Sidney will attend public school. It is at the top of my priorities. I championed many improvements to D8 schools and co-authored Tom Ammiano's Proposition H, providing City support for programs such as music and art, physical education, and guidance counselors, which have not been available. Uncertainty around the school assignment process drives many parents to private schools. I have been active with all of my schools and am excited to make further progress. Rosenthal: Families leave the city for several reasons: the price of housing, the perception that schools are better in the suburbs, and the difficulty of getting a child into a public school close to home. As our families are leaving, San Francisco loses funding, and the school district is always facing school closures. I will protect the schools in District 8 from closure, by applying the political pressure necessary, and finding funding to supplement the school district budget. Starchild: Hmm, a mystery worthy of Sherlock Holmes... Not! It's elementary, my dear editors (no pun intended)! Government-run schools in S.F. are mostly mediocre, and parents and students are frequently denied their school of choice. If these families can't afford to send their kids to non-government schools while still being taxed to pay for government schools, naturally many of them choose to look elsewhere. What's needed? Simply more choice, more competition, and more accountability to parents.
8. A Utah-based corporation has left the former Real Food Company space on 24th Street vacant for over three years. Some say the shuttered store has not only hurt the former employees, but harmed the economic vitality of the entire commercial strip. How should the city deal with this situation--and chain stores in general? Dufty: Noe Valleyites know of my work throughout the Real Food saga. I held Board hearings, secured City cooperation for the Noe Valley Farmers' Market, and secured Congresswoman Pelosi's help on the employee complaint before the National Labor Relations Board. Nutraceutical has ignored everything. But I have worked with Harley DeLano on his purchase of Cala/Bell. That ensures we'll have an even better Bell Market, which cares about its employees and the neighborhood. Rosenthal: Supervisor Dufty has not been able to answer why Real Foods is still empty and blighted. As a real estate attorney, I know that we can bring the owners to the table with the threat of eminent domain or a public nuisance suit. I support Prop. G--it is essential to maintain our neighborhood character and protect our small mom-and-pop shops and restaurants from the predatory anti-competitive practices of mega-stores and formula retail. Starchild: Let's require chain stores to install RFID chip readers at store entrances, and require chain store opponents to get RFID chip implants. Any time such a person attempted to enter a chain store, the RFID detector's beeping would remind them of their values.... OK, I'm kidding again. But if you dislike chain stores, put your money where your mouth is -- don't shop there! Chain stores prosper in San Francisco because many residents are hypocrites.
9. Because of long delays and lack of oversight in both public and private building projects, some Noe Valley residents and merchants have grown suspicious of city government. How would you respond to their concerns? Dufty: There were several roadblocks in the Sally Brunn Branch Library renovation. I worked closely with the neighborhood and new City Librarian Luis Herrera to resolve funding shortfalls. We created a bi-monthly neighborhood advisory committee meeting with the contractor L&C Construction. We just initiated meetings with Trico Construction on Upper Noe Rec Center. This is ensuring that the neighborhood remains informed and that we deliver great projects. I am committed to reforming the City's construction process. Rosenthal: The building inspection and permitting processes are a mess, and open to manipulation by permit expediters. I would like to see a management audit of the Department of Building Inspection. I would work to limit permit expediting. As an attorney with experience in development projects, I will keep close watch over the projects in District 8 neighborhoods to make sure that they are completed as quickly and efficiently as possible. Starchild: I would treat their concerns seriously, say sympathetic things, and sound knowledgeable and practical. Meanwhile, I would continue to support the kind of legislation that has spawned a bloated city government with sweeping powers to interfere in people's lives and lacking adequate transparency or accountability, resulting in building project snafus and other unintended consequences. Oh wait, never mind -- that's my opponents. I'd sound less electable, but would be less a part of the problem.
10. What has been the funniest moment during your campaign? (Question provided by Arnold Schwarzenegger) Dufty: I'm a bit sleep deprived. Rebecca [Goldfader], Sidney, and I went to surprise Our Family Coalition (LGBT families) at their event in Diamond Heights. I misplaced my schedule but recalled the house number. I rang the bell and we stumbled in--I immediately felt we were in the wrong house. Who comes downstairs but former School Board member Carlota del Portillo and two grandchildren! We laughed, and I realized the event was four houses down the block. Rosenthal: Woody Miller is a nudist activist and a supporter of ours. He came by the office (fully clothed) to volunteer when we were making signs for our wall with the names of our endorsers. We put a sign up for Woody, and he asked if he could have a picture with me in front of it. In half a second, he had taken all his clothes off, and we snapped the picture.

Starchild: Unfortunately, I can't tell you about it. If we repeal some bad laws, hopefully that will change! But some of my favorite moments have been while wearing some scandalous outfit at a party or something, handing someone a flier when they're least expecting it and telling them I'm running for supervisor. Reactions can be priceless! Even if the person isn't in my district, at least I've made politics a little more fun for someone.