Interview with District 11 candidate John Avalos
Supervisoral aide John Avalos recently declared his candidacy
for the 2008 District 11 Supervisor's race.
June 3, 2007
Supervisoral aide John Avalos filed papers with the San Francisco
Department of Elections Friday declaring his candidacy for 2008
District 11 Supervisor's race.
Fog City Journal caught up with John at the after-party following
Convention and offered him the opportunity to make a case
as to why residents of District 11 should get to know John and
support his candidacy.
Why are you running for supervisor in District 11?
I feel Im a perfect fit to represent District 11. Those
familiar with the District know its the most diverse in
the city. Where else are you going to find practically every ethnic
group represented on each and every block?
As a community organizer who worked several years in the District
with Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, as a labor activist
with SEIUs janitors union and as a legislative aide working
with Supervisor Chris Daly in City Hall, I have worked with many
of San Franciscos communities and constituent groups. I
know how City Hall functions. This wealth of experience would
enable me to enter the office of Supervisor with some very useful
skills and valuable experience.
How else would you describe the district?
As I said, District 11 is the most diverse district in the city.
With such diversity does come tension. Not all our groups relate
to each other as well as we could. At the same time, we have a
lot potential based on our diversity.
Were mostly working class and moderate income, lots of
struggling homeowners. Lots of labor households, probably the
highest density of labor households in the city. Theres
a history here of old immigrants Italian and more established
Irish families -- and new immigrants, Latino and Asian families
and a growing queer population.
As in other parts of the city, the African American population
is on the decline. Theres gentrification and displacement
happening here, but not as quickly as its happening elsewhere
in the city.
What do you see as the main issues you want to tackle?
Im always going to be a solid voice on social justice issues
affordable housing, workers rights, tenant rights, environmental
justice, immigrant rights, juvenile justice, public safety, etc.
Most of these issues are big concerns for District 11 constituents,
yet as Supervisor Sandoval well knows, District 11 residents have
to fight twice as hard to get their fair share of government attention.
I want to build on Gerardos work in making government more
responsive. Im particularly interested in building the capacity
of the services out in the OMI and ensuring the district has safe,
family friendly neighborhoods with increased opportunities for
recreation, education and personal development for young people.
Whats the OMI?
Well a lot of people think its the Outer Mission
and Ingleside. But actually its Oceanview, Merced
Heights and Ingleside three neighborhoods south of Ocean
and west of 280 the part of the district thats really
You know, one of District 11s most overlooked assets is
City College which sits right on the edge of its border. I want
to explore how City College can have a greater connection to the
district. With tens of thousands of students, many of them from
the District, theres great potential for unleashing some
positive energy to bring up struggling youth in the local middle
schools and high schools. Having grown up in the hood a lot of
these young people are comfortable with diversity, they can help
a lot to bring arts and culture to bridge the tensions that may
simmer between the districts ethnic groups.
I also want to work on improving parks, public transportation
and overall transit with safer streets for pedestrians. Unfortunately,
weve seen too many pedestrian deaths in district. I thank
the Bike Coalition, a few local bikers for the bike lanes on Alemany,
theyve made some real improvements on pedestrian safety.
What do you see as some of your personal strengths?
Im a good listener and Im particularly good at hearing
many different sides to an issue and collaborating with people
to choose a course of action. Im an organizer and a coalition
builder. My role in the past few years, whether on the inside
or the outside of government has been to show people how government
works and how they can access it to challenge the system to make
it work for them.
I believe I have been effective because Im interested in
building working relationships with people and engaging them on
how we can improve and expand public services.