The Case for Keys

Written by Chris Daly. Posted in Events, Opinion, Politics

Published on August 18, 2010 with 9 Comments

Candidate for District 6 Supervisor James Keys and Supervisor Chris Daly. File photo by Luke Thomas.

By Chris Daly

Author’s Note: Please join me tomorrow for a reception to help our friend, James Keys, in his bid to become the next District 6 Supervisor. Thursday, August 19th, 5:30pm, 222 Hyde Street.

August 18, 2010

This past Saturday, I stood in the the very spot in Boeddeker Park where I launched my first political campaign ten years ago. An affordable housing activist, I was little-known in mainstream political circles, and my campaign was all but written off by the political pundits and power brokers. But we had a very strong idea, to take our campaign directly to everyday people, and the will to knock on thousands of doors to talk about our movement for social and economic justice in San Francisco.

So it was fitting that I would return to Boeddeker Park ten years later, to endorse a community activist all but written off by the political establishment. James Keys doesn’t have a high citywide profile, powerful organizational endorsements, or big campaign money, but he does have a special connection to the heart of District 6 that can only be earned through years of work on some of the district’s most important issues. For nearly four years, James worked in the my office, coordinating our constituent services. Whether it was addressing bedbug outbreaks in the Tenderloin or helping to organize the response to the threatened demolition of Trinity Plaza, James was there. As Chair of the Mental Health Board, James has worked to ensure quality mental health services for the diversity of San Francisco. James has also been a forceful advocate for low-income seniors around issues of affordable housing, healthcare, and pedestrian safety.

Supervisor Chris Daly speaks to his support of candidate James Keys in the race for District 6 Supervisor, Boeddeker Park, 8/14/2010.

On his record alone, James Keys has earned my support. But more importantly, James’ campaign best speaks to my passion — economic justice for the most vulnerable. In ten years, I have worked to build a real partnership between my office and struggling communities within the district, and this partnership has yielded some important wins. James can best build on this model, because as a hotel resident and affordable housing tenant, he’s lived it and has a special connection to the district’s base.

On this point, we progressives talk a lot about empowerment– making sure that those who live through injustice are the leaders in fighting that injustice. If this empowerment is to be more than just lip service, it has to extend to our highest leadership positions. As I have fought for the low-income communities of District 6, I have been well-aware that I have done so as a straight white man from a middle-class background. While I have talked a great deal about empowerment, I have understood that talk without action is cheap. Now in the race for District 6 Supervisor, we have a person from the Tenderloin –a low-income, gay, African-American man– who has taken on some of the toughest issues in San Francisco, with a campaign aimed to fight injustice, build affordable housing, ensure that everyone has high quality health services, and to take care of our seniors and our young people. James Keys has stepped up to the plate, and I am proud to stand with him.

Over the past several months, I have expressed my concern with the prospect of the progressive vote being split in District 6. When I raised these concerns to the progressive candidates in the race, only James Keys stepped up to put the progressive movement ahead of his personal self-interest. The leadership that James displayed when I was trying to organize the Progressive Primary gave me further insight into the character of the campaign he’s running. While I would be happy with a Supervisor Meko, Walker, or Kim, and I count each one as a friend and ally, none of these candidates have truly embraced the progressive politics of District 6, which for better or worse, is defined by our engagement in some of the toughest political battles of the last 10 years. While “uniting the district,” stopping the “acrimony of the last 5 years,” or “listening to all parts of the district,” all sound like nice things, none of the other campaigns have inspired my confidence that their candidates would go to the mat on the toughest political battles.

Like my campaign in 2000, the campaign to elect James Keys needs to put in the work necessary to overcome significant odds. That means knocking on thousands of doors and making many more phone calls to the everyday people of District 6. I hope that you will roll up your sleeves and join me in this righteous endeavor.

Chris Daly

Chris Daly is the Political Director for SEIU Local 1021, a union of over 50,000 public sector and non-profit workers. He served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from 2001-2011 and owns and operates The Buck, a bar and grill on Market Street.

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Comments for The Case for Keys are now closed.

  1. Thanks Paul,

    I misspoke. They only ban two of the three days. I don’t understand why they’re able to prevent us from having guests on any days.


  2. H. Brown, it looks like your hotel is violating the Uniform SRO Visitor Policy. They can ban visitors only two days — the 1st (or the 3rd) and the 15th. But they can’t ban them for all three …

  3. Wow,

    I’m really conflicted on this. I like Meko best but Keys despite having offended a number of people close to me (like I don’t do that?) is now my second choice for D-6.

    Chris, you rock but get off your ass and actually campaign with James. Sitting in a comfortable office chair and dealing with life through a keyboard only gets you fatter. Just look at me.

    Hope the kids are well, my son and grandson (D-6 residents on Treasure Island) were over yesterday to check out my renovated digs at 44 McAllister. On the 1st, 3rd and 15th the management can ban their visits. Why don’t you work on making that illegal for your last favor to 18,000 SRO tenants?

    Go Giants!


  4. A Key opens a lock. Keys opens many locks.

  5. If I were a Democrat, and I am not, I would support James Keys for the reasons Daly gives.

    I cannot support any Democrat, period.

    The only way to send a message to the Powers That Be is to break with them completely.


    National elections.

    Local elections.

    “James. Chris. I like both of you. (I like Debra Walker too, and yes, Jim Meko. and even AnnaConda– only because I love San Fracisco and the special worldview we are proud of.)

    But ALL of you ultimately support war against peoples in resource rich and “strategic” lands.

    You ALL ultimately support the war against the people here: less and less opportunity–and insulting tokenism based on “identity politics” and boot-licking Patron-Clientelism that negates the human dignity of the oppressed and disadvantaged.

    I live in the Tenderloin District 6. WE ARE OPPRESSED.

    I know neither of you, James Keys or Chris Daly, nor the many well-intentioned readers here at FCJ believe that they are a key ingredient to the continuing and expanding evils we have inherited from Bush (and Clinton, and Bush, and Carter, and Reagan et. al.) — but it is the truth.

    The best thing any good politician can do is forgo all illusions.

    The Truth is: The ruling classes do not care about us or San Francisco. They want to use us. To an extent, they will tolerate us: but, ultimately, they will liquidate us. Trivialize us. Negate us.

    Rosa Parks said: “I’m not sitting down.”

    Probably someone said, “Not today… tomorrow.”

    Well I’m not sitting down: as ultimately every apologist for the system.

    So what is the alternative everyone always wants to know.

    Think for yourselves.

    Don’t throw good to bad.

    Tell the PTB, “I’m better than you. I don’t want a part of you or a seat at your table. It is covered with blood, wasted lives, and lies and more lies.”

    Shake your shoes of the dirt it’s accumulated and get away to wherever you can. Go into hiding– or secretly create something beautiful that someone will appreciate when times have changed. And they will– because nothing lasts.

    Certainly not the pomp and pride of any people in denial.

    We have an evil, fascist state.

    The one imperative is to resist it whoever you are or wherever you are or whenever you can.

  6. Chris, thanks for this, you may soon be gone, but you wont soon be forgotten. Overall, as if it matters, I give you an A-. There has yet to be an elected, yet alone a re-elected, politician, worthy of an A+, it’s the nature of the bestiality; A straight A is unrealistic, and would be suspect at best. An A- is probably the best we can hope for ( I give Tom that grade also…good company).
    I am just to godamned busy with life and death to stay on top of all this shit as much as I would like, but based on what I hear from my companeros, I feel real good about Nyese Joshua in D10. I’m sure James must be on your case about her, I hope they (you) can collaborate and help each other, ‘win or loose’. Tony seems fine, but better a sister from the ‘hood than a honky from the hill; and a brother from streets than a poseur from the party.
    Don’t Give Up The Fight.

  7. James is a fighter for the poor and disadvantaged. Despite the endorsement of the current supervisor, he is not a political insider who is beholden to special interests. He lives right in the Tenderloin and is not part of any big political machine. I have faith that he will represent the most vulnerable San Franciscans and have the guts to stand up against the privileged classes with flair and style.

  8. I have worked as a legislative intern for 3-years in Supervisor Chris Daly’s office working on legislation, resolutions, constituent issues along with Supervisor Daly, then legislative aide, now Supervisor John Avalos and Raquel Redondiez. I have worked with every City and County department of San Francisco regarding issues that came before the supervisor and the Board of Supervisors, and then I began advocating for better mental health for all of San Francisco as the Chair of the SF Mental Health Board. I then went into the nonprofit arena advocating and creating real policy for seniors, people with AIDS/HIV, homeless men, women and families, low-income families and the poor, then creating real housing in San Francisco through MHSA funds from Sacramento. I raise monies for inner-city youth to go to the AAU championship two-years in a row. I have the experience to do the job because I have done the job. And I have the real life experience as a person who has lived below the poverty-line to represent the disenfranchised in the Tenderloin,yet have can also represent the middle-class in SoMa and in the Mission and also those residents fortunate enough to live in comfort in the South Beach and Rincon areas.

    So in November 2010 please remember to “Do the Right Thing!”

  9. Chris makes a very impressive case for James.