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From the Outside Looking In


By Alexa Llewellyn




February 17, 2003


Job Interview for Mayor

In November 2003, the citizens of San Francisco get to make their biggest decision for the next four years. They will select the person who will occupy Room 200 at City Hall — the mayor.

The mayor has the final decision for 90% of the city’s budget. The mayor has the final decision in hiring the executive managers of the city’s 70 departments. The mayor implements the day-to-day decisions of running the city, providing services to its 800,000 residents, and making sure that its businesses are humming and bringing in revenue.

While the BOS has some power over city policy, the top of the ticket and the El Jefe of the city is the mayor. [ed. note: Beryl Magilavy describes this unbalance of power in "San Francisco Government Reform Is Long Overdue."]

So, on Friday, February 21, the SF Call will sponsor a “"Job Interview for San Francisco Mayor" at the Goodwill Industries’ Atrium, 1500 Mission (11th Street) from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. A suggested donation of $10 for the SF Call is requested, but no one will be turned away at the door. RSVP at 386-2706.

The purpose of this forum is to allow voters to help frame the issues that will be addressed in the campaign. At time of print, Susan Leal, Angela Alioto, Tom Ammiano, Jim Reid, Tony Ribera, Michael Denny, and Dave Giessen are confirmed. Gavin Newsom is tentative. During the first 20 minutes members of a media panel will pose questions to the candidates. They will have one question each — and the candidates will have three minutes to answer.

The remaining minutes will be devoted to questions submitted by the audience. Audience members get to choose three candidates they want their question directed to. The moderators, Betsey Culp and Malik Looper, will ask the questions provided by the audience — and they will also have the choice of changing whom they will ask in the event some candidates get more questions than others.

In the past, the campaigns have only superficially addressed the key issues that everyone was truly concerned about — such as homelessness, health care, education, quality of life, neighborhood issues, transportation, and the economy. Candidates prefer to address issues that don’t cause controversy, issues that won’t alienate voters.

But today, as we face the uncertain future of a down-turned economy and war looms on the horizon, we can’t afford to allow candidates to skate through a campaign on looks, sound bites, and past glories.

I don’t know about you. But I want a mayor who is committed to helping as many San Franciscans as possible. I want someone who is committed to making San Francisco a great place to live, work, and visit. I want a mayor who can lead every one of us to a better future. That means making hard decisions:

How can you provide quality health care for the homeless and the working poor with a $300 million deficit? How do you clean up the streets when the Department of Public Works’ budget has been cut? How do you provide housing to the homeless when federal and state funds for housing have been slashed?

Hard decisions indeed.

Let us hope that, on Friday, February 21, at the Mayoral Candidate Forum at the Goodwill Industries, 1500 Mission (11th Street) from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., we will find mayoral candidates who are willing to talk about these hard decisions. And let us hope that whomever we elect in November 2003 will implement those hard decisions.