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Four candidates seek
Distrct 12 Assembly seat

By Angela Hokanson, Bay City News Service

June 3, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - Two Democrats with somewhat similar visions for California are vying for their party's nomination for District 12's state Assembly seat in the June 6 Gubernatorial Primary Election and are running alongside a Republican and a Green party candidate, who are hoping to get enough votes to be included on the ballot in November.

State Assembly District 12 covers the western half of San Francisco and extends south into San Mateo County, including all of Colma and unincorporated Broadmoor Village and part of Daly City.

Fiona Ma, a San Francisco supervisor for District 4, and Janet Reilly, a member of the board of directors of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, are competing for the Democratic slot on the ticket.

Barry Hermanson, the former owner of a temporary employment service and one of the leaders of the Proposition L campaign, which increased San Francisco's minimum wage in 2003, is the Green Party candidate.

The Republican candidate is Howard Epstein, the former owner of a construction equipment rental business and a wholesale janitorial supply business and the Vice Chair of the San Francisco Republican Party.

Ma's top political goals if elected are to fully fund public education through Proposition 98, provide universal healthcare across the state and create jobs in California, according to Tom Hsieh, a campaign consultant for the Ma campaign.

Ma distinguishes herself as a candidate by her 10 years of experience in state and local government, Hsieh said.

Ma began working for then-state Sen. John Burton in 1995, and spent more than seven years with Burton as a district representative, according to Hsieh.

This experience working in the "trenches" of state and local government would help Ma hit the ground running if she were elected to the District 12 Assembly seat, Hsieh said.

Reilly, who has worked as a public relations manager for Mervyns department stores and as a news reporter, emphasizes the fresh perspective she would bring to the state Assembly.

Some of Reilly's top political goals include providing health care for all Californians, improving the quality of public education and access to post-secondary education and planning for California's projected population growth.

Reilly was appointed to the Golden Gate Bridge board of directors by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Reilly said she has learned a lot about regional cooperation between Bay Area cities and counties through her work on the board.

The Democratic candidate who obtains the largest number of votes in Tuesday's primary will advance to the general election in November. There is no minimum threshold of votes needed to determine which Democrat has won in the primary election.

Green Party candidate Barry Hermanson calls himself an advocate of the "everyday worker." Hermanson served as co chair of the San Francisco Living Wage Coalition in 1999 and 2000 and in 2003 worked the city's Proposition L campaign, which raised the minimum wage in San Francisco from $6.75 to $8.50 an hour.

Hermanson took issue with the large sums of money being spent by both the Ma and the Reilly campaigns and questioned who the corporations, wealthy contributors and special interests funding these campaigns might be.

Hermanson needs only 40 votes to have his name appear on the November ballot.

"The real race for me begins when I find out who the Democratic opponent is," he said.

Republican candidate Howard Epstein is running on a platform of fiscal responsibility. Epstein said he would seek to make the state more business-friendly. He's also interested in strengthening property rights and reforming healthcare to reduce the cost of insurance.

Epstein cited his experience as a small business owner as an asset he'd bring to elected office.

"In small business, you learn to do things quickly and economically," Epstein said.

Epstein serves on the boards of directors of both the Small Property Owners of San Francisco and the San Francisco Taxpayer Union.

Of the two Democratic candidates, Epstein said, "I think they're pretty much the same person" in terms of their political views. Ma counts U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and the California teachers' and firefighters' unions among her supporters.

Reilly has been endorsed by Assemblyman Leland Yee, the Service Employees International Union's United Healthcare Workers and the San Francisco firefighters' union.

The Sierra Club has endorsed both Hermanson's and Reilly's campaigns.

And Epstein has been endorsed by California Young Republicans and Republicans United for San Francisco.

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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