Overheard in Fog City: Julian Davis to Declare D5 Candidacy

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in News, Politics

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Published on May 20, 2012 with 40 Comments

Julian Davis

Progressive activist Julian Davis will officially declare his candidacy for District 5 Supervisor this week. File photo by Luke Thomas.

By Luke Thomas

May 20, 2012, 11:57 am.

Longtime San Francisco progressive organizer Julian Davis will officially declare this week his bid to unseat appointed District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague, Fog City Journal can confirm.

Davis, 33, President of the Booker T. Washington Community Service Center, said he is running to “keep this city a vibrant home for the everyday people that make San Francisco real.”

“San Francisco should always be a home for all walks of life, a place for artists and innovators, students and seniors, immigrants and working people who make up the unique texture of our city,” Davis added.

At a gathering in Hayes Valley on Saturday with as many as 60 supporters in attendance, Davis explained his vision for the future of District 5 and the City, a vision that places a higher priority on people while protecting communities from excessive development.  The event was attended by Clarence Jones, former counsel, confidante and “I have a dream” draft speech writer for Martin Luther King, Jr.

“In building any political movement, you must have a candidate of impeccable political integrity,” Jones said of his endorsement of Davis.

Davis, a graduate of Brown University and U.C. Hastings College of the Law, is a Bay Area native who has been living and working as an activist and organizer in San Francisco since 2002. He has worked in government and the non-profit and legal sectors on community development, civil rights, social justice and environmental causes. He is well-known in progressive circles having worked on several candidate and ballot measure campaigns including John Avalos for Mayor (2011), Jane Kim for Supervisor (2010), Prop H (2008, Clean Energy Act) and Chris Daly for Supervisor (2006).  He also led efforts to free jailed journalist Josh Wolf from coercive confinement in 2007.

Olague, who self-identifies as progressive, has raised eyebrows since her appointment to the D5 seat by Mayor Ed Lee, an appointment that followed her co-chairship of the controversial “Run, Ed, Run” campaign.  Though she opposed the redevelopment of Park Merced (against the wishes of Lee), Olague most recently voted in support of developing 134 units of multi-million dollar luxury condos on the waterfront at 8 Washington. As an organizer for the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition in the 90s, Olague opposed similar developments.

She also recently co-sponsored legislation with Supervisor Scott Wiener to weaken historic preservation protections, a proposal that has been met with stiff opposition from preservationists, the Tenant’s Union and the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club.

Olague also raised questions about her political loyalties when she provided the pivotal sixth vote in co-sponsoring a ballot measure in November that aims to repeal Ranked Choice Voting – a progressive electoral reform enacted in 2004 – from all citywide races.

Considered the most politically progressive of the City’s 11 districts, District 5 comprises the Haight-Ashbury, Western Addition, Hayes Valley, Inner Sunset, Japan Town, and Lower Pacific Heights. Davis is the eighth candidate to enter the D5 contest. He joins African American Art & Culture Complex Executive Director London Breed, attorney Daniel Everett, Gill Francis (retired), small-business owner Daniel Landry, non-profit director Andrew Resignato, College Board Trustee John Rizzo, Supervisor Olague and small-business owner Thea Selby in the race that will be decided in November.

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the SanFranciscoSentinel.com, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched FogCityJournal.com. The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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Comments for Overheard in Fog City: Julian Davis to Declare D5 Candidacy are now closed.

  1. I have to give credit to Christina, and Jane Kim, where it’s due, for their no votes on a resolution urging the navy to name a ship the USNS Harvey Milk.  They were the only two to vote no.

  2. Why no mention of competitors such as Thea Selby and John Rizzo?

    Never heard of this guy before…..

    • Thea Selby and John Rizzo are mentioned.  If their entries into the race were written up in Fog City, I missed it.

  3. Marcos you speak sooth, Julian is one of the new breed that’s not tainted. The city needs more people like him to replace the old guard.
    We must never give up.

    • “Give up” what? Highrise development of market-rate condos? The traffic-snarling Bicycle Plan? Critical Mass? Unsustainable pay and benefits for city workers? The Central Subway? What exactly is the progressive political agenda?

      Crude opportunism is a SF progressive tradition. Olague, Mirkarimi, Rizzo, and Kim dumped the Green Party when it became obvious even to them that being a lefty would not help their political careers. Matt Gonzalez moved from the Mission to District 5 to run for supervisor in 2000. Jane Kim moved into District 6 to run for that seat. Olague kicked prog opportunism up a notch by supporting empty suit Ed Lee.

  4. I think we’ve sufficient experience in the bank to conclude that there will be no savior swooping in to lead us to redemption in the face of a hyper organized and resourced set of opponents and our former allies who have been coopted to their side.  No one election in any single district will get us there.

    No, it is time for us to kick over the game table and reconstitute a new viable governing coalition that is independent of downtown as well as labor and the nonprofits which can give government no other choice than to do our bidding in our interests.

    The first step towards that is opposing any and all revenue measures in upcoming ballots.  This corrupt government gets not one more thin dime.

    • Nice idea, but who’s going to be part of this coalition that doesn’t include labor or nonprofits?  

  5. Another professional politician…

  6. The fact is that the progressive train careened over the cliff two years ago.  Christina and I managed to jump off of that train.  I’m still hanging by the siding waiting for another train.  Christina did not wait for another train.  What is worse than both of those courses of action is the pervasive and persistent denial by labor and the nonprofits that the train has run off of a cliff.  And it will take much more than an individual running for office to rebuild the political energy that progressives had ten years ago.  It will take the kind of grassroots organizing that nobody seems to want or be able to do these days. 

    We’ve learned that one or a handful elected official can’t stand up to the continual onslaught of a corporate machine that has infinite resources and is as resourceful in using them to out-adapt their competitors as was John Carpenter’s “The Thing.”  So the jury is still out on what is more productive for progressives, jumping ship and bringing home the goods 30% of the time or remaining pure, being ostracized by power if you’re lucky, being attacked like Mark Sanchez and Chris Daly, or being politically assassinated like Ross Mirkarimi and if you’re lucky enough to remain standing, bringing home the goods, what 5% of the time these days?

    Both are poor options.  But the path to better options is paved with shoe leather and building an inclusive anti-corruption coalition with people out side of your comfort zone.

    • Please provide some examples of these goods that Supervisor Olague has brought home 30% of the time.

      • I have no idea why the above posted with that name.  I intended to post with my real name:  Hope Johnson

      • Hope, the jury is still out.

        • I was wondering whether that was you, speaking as Marcos, addressed by DemoGreen as Marc.  Still not quite clear, but I imagine so.  I’ve never been able to relate to the vague term “progressive,” which seems designed to herd everyone who favors gay rights, a woman’s right to choose, social security, and/or reduced military spending (at least in principle), into the Democratic Party big tent.

  7. Davis should discuss how he could support Mirkarimi’s re-election in 2008 even though the Murk supported allowing UC to rip off the extension property on lower Haight Street, a project that Davis opposed. And the Josh Wolf issue is bogus, since he had no immunity and should have turned over the video of a demonstration during which city cop Peter Shields had his skull fractured by Wolfe’s anarchist comrades. 

  8. To my mind it’s simple.  If Olague was a progressive Ed Lee would not have appointed her.

  9. The more I look into Olague the more I see that she is not the progressive Individual that she was.
    What made her change colors, is it that she is now beholding to Mayor Lee for giving her the D5 supervisor post?

  10. “Olague also raised questions about her political loyalties when she provided the pivotal sixth vote in co-sponsoring a ballot measure in November that aims to repeal of Ranked Choice Voting – a progressive electoral reform enacted in 2004 – from all citywide races.”

    Six is the number of signatures required to put a measure on the ballot?  

    • I believe six BOS votes are required for a charter amendment, four for everything else.  The mayor can also submit ballot measures.

      • Thanks.  That’s what I thought.  Hadn’t occurred to me that this is a Charter Amendment.

  11. I got a good feelin….

  12. Progressive politics in SF is definitely waning. Julian is one of the few people I’ve known who I would actually trust to stick to his principles after getting into office. And from what I’ve heard so far, he has a fantastic vision for the city. We are at a crossroads… it’s time to put SF on a real, strong progressive path. Julian is our guy.

    • What principles? Where does he stand on the UC extension issue? What’s his vision? Where does he stand on Smart Growth, the Bicycle Plan, the Central Subway, Masonic Avenue, the Panhandle bike lanes?

      • All great questions. Smart growth is central to his platform–keeping the city a place where artists, students, and workers can live, as opposed to a luxury resort for the rich (i.e. Olague’s vote for 8 Washington Plaza). He’s also a huge bike advocate and doesn’t even own a car–he rides everywhere. As for detailed policy prescriptions re: UC extension and the Central Subway, let’s give him a few weeks. He just announced a week ago. 

        • When has “smart growth” been equitable growth?  How can the push for added luxury densities along and near transit lines that don’t function favorably for medium/long distance commutes be contested in favor of non-luxury housing and the regional rapid, reliable transit investment? 

          None of this is anywhere on the table in the planning discourse because moneyed interests have spent to keep it off the table. 

          The fact that government has been purchased in its entirety by those with direct financial interests in discretionary outcomes not going to be solved with policies, it can maybe only be solved with politics and organizing, the likes of which have not been seen in more than a decade.

          • Why do you date it at a decade back, Marc?  If I remember right, you don’t have fond memories of the Gonzalez campaign.  

            Earlier you said the progressive train ran off the tracks two years ago, and by that I took you to mean with the deals struck to appoint incumbent Ed Lee.

  13. I hope that whoever becomes D5 supe understands the importance of good city planning. Plague at least gets it.

    • “Gets” what about planning? Allowing UC to hijack property that’s been zoned for public use since the 19th Century? All the dumb “smart growth” projects, like the Market/Octavia Plan and Rincon Hill? And voting for the ambitious Bicycle Plan even though it had had no environmental review only to be rebuked by the Superior Court? The Central Subway is good planning? Just an awful record, and that’s without getting into the opportunism in dumping the Green Party and support for Ed Lee.

    • The only people who are allowed to “get” anything from planning are developers, with the nonprofits being thrown a few crumbs every now and again.  Whatever developers want, developers get and taxpayers are left cleaning up the mess.  Back before the 2008 elections, the “progressive” board of supervisors enacted both Market Octavia and Eastern Neighborhoods plans that not only were giveaways of livability to developers, but covered the beautification of gentrified Hayes Valley with massive upzoning at Market and Van Ness.  The venturi effect will make that part of Market Street cold, shady and windy: unwalkable and unbikable.

    • Building high-rises for the elite on SF’s pristine waterfront, with apartments starting at $2.5 million, and doing it against the wishes of the dozens of progressive groups that fought it, including the Tenant’s Union, doesn’t really sound like “good city planning” to me. 

  14. A real progressive ! Julian can spear head the rebirth
    of the progressive movement in San Francisco.

    • Not dissing on Julian, but the lift is way too heavy for any individual to lead others to heft, especially since nobody has lifted anything of the sort nor has organized people to collectively lift even a fraction of the burden we face.

      Downtown has coopted every nexus of political power that challenges it and it is going to take a completely different political coalition to contest that.  I do not see anyone honestly acknowledging the jam we’re in.

      Unless we take stock of our situation, and that will mean stepping on toes and hurting feelings as we break up what’s left of the old progressive order to build something with broader contemporary appeal, then we’re just treading water.

      It does not matter who we elect in D5 so long as downtown runs the table and nonprofits and labor dominate non-downtown politics, doing more of the same will have the same results.

      • Marcos – I do not support Julian Davis as supervisor in my district.  However, you are making two incompatible arguments on this thread.  Earlier you defended Olague for supporting Lee but now you are admitting that the people running the table really dominate.  Olague’s decision to actively jump through political fair practice loopholes to support Lee is part of the opportunistic faction that keeps the downtown status quo.

        • Hope, I did not defend Olague for supporting Ed Lee.  I laid out what happened as I saw it.  I explained that both of us jumped off of the progressive train around the same time, Christina jumped onto another train, I did not.  Is there a defense there or me just laying out how I see that things went down?  Is dispassionate analysis now defense?

          I’m not sure what keeps the downtown status quo more, a coopted progressive movement centered in the nonprofits and labor or the clever and well funded devices of downtown power.

          •  I have to agree with you, Marcos.  You are right.

          • Marc, the problem with your metaphor is that it completely absolves Christina of any personal responsibility for her actions. If somebody jumped off a real train that was careening off a cliff, and ended up stuck in the middle of nowhere, who could blame them for getting on another train?  Anybody would do it.  But riding the local “gravy train” has other ethical implications.

            • There are gravy trains running in all directions.  To my mind, the labor/nonprofit gravy train is at least as dangerous as the conservative/downtown gravy train because it pretends to represent something that it doesn’t even try to anymore.  The moment that people call to account the progressive insiders who ran the train off of the cliff is the moment that we can judge Christina.  But the social culture of the progressive movement is so oversocialized that it can’t, it won’t tolerate any substantive criticism of individuals and their actions with intent to hold them accountable because it fears hurting people’s feelings more so than correcting clearly observed political error.  In so doing, the poverty activists are putting the interests of the poor directly against the interests of the middle class, all so that the 1% can keep us divided and conquered.  My approach now is to starve the parasites so that they drop off of the host, hopefully not causing too much damage to the host in the process.  Responsibility for any damage to the host and those dependent upon social programs now rests with those who allowed the parasites to attach and formed a symbiotic relationship with the parasites.  Corporate power will throw crumbs, like a giant bronze statue of Eric Quezada (reminiscent of Kim Il Sung) leading the proletariat (off of a cliff) for Potrero del Sol Park, and “the community” will celebrate a Big Win.

              • Regarding personal responsibility, I’ve never bought the argument that we shouldn’t boycott Israel until we deal with Saudi Arabia.  Speaking of which, untargeted sanctions are unlikely to work on our local regime.  The threat of budget cuts is an important tool to ensure loyalty, so more budget cuts will probably result in moving the loyalty bar a bit higher and the ethics bar a bit lower.

                • How about “we” not subsidize both Israel and Saudi Arabia and see how that works instead of trying to clean up the mess we continue to make?

                  How about we disconnect popular demands on government from the budget of any dependent political actor, nonprofit or union because the purpose of government is to provide services in the aggregate, not to finance any given operation?

                  The only way to get people’s attention in a way that they cannot ignore or coopt is to deny them additional resources.  When the elites are denied more park bond dollars or more sales tax dollars or a non-payroll business tax, then they will pay attention.  When the labor and the nonprofits find the same outcome whether or not new revenues are approved, that those dollars go to corruption not jobs or services, then they will pay attention.

                  It would have been easier for labor and the nonprofits to partner with San Franciscans and organize with us.  But they chose another path and they must be held accountable for those choices even if the constituencies they claim to represent end up worse off.

                  Spock: “The needs of the many outweigh…”

                  Kirk: “the needs of the few…”

                  Spock: “or the needs of the one.”

              • Interesting statement, Marc:  “But the social culture of the progressive movement is so oversocialized that it can’t, it won’t tolerate any substantive criticism of individuals and their actions with intent to hold them accountable because it fears hurting people’s feelings more so than correcting clearly observed political error.”  

                Could you define “oversocialized”?