San Francisco Elections 2007

18:56 Thu 08 Nov 2007. Updated: 10:57 09 Nov 2007
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San Francisco held city elections on Tuesday. The important issues were the competing Propositions A and H, concerning public transport and parking. There was also a mayoral election, although its result was a foregone conclusion.

Proposition A was aimed at improving public transport, reducing pollution, and spiking Proposition H in case both measures passed. I don’t have great faith that A will improve transportation a great deal, but any improvement is something.

Proposition H was to mandate a certain number of parking spaces per building. It would have increased the number of parking spaces in the city, which sounds good at first, but which would likely do nothing but increase traffic. The way to make parking better is to have better public transport so that it’s a viable alternative to driving, not to force the use of more space for parking. (Measures like that are apparently partly responsible for the deaths of old-town-style main streets in the US—not necessarily an issue in San Francisco, but something to keep in mind.)

The mayoral election was the first big test of San Francisco’s “instant runoff” system, a kind of simplified version of what’s used in Ireland, where you assign first-, second-, and third-preference votes to candidates. As such, it was hardly a good test, as there was no chance of anyone beating Gavin Newsom. Newsom has coasted on his attempt to legalize gay marriage in the city, on his somewhat slick demeanor, and on the fact the the Democratic Party machine and the press both support him (which should make everyone deeply suspicious of him but doesn’t seem to). I voted first for Quintin Mecke, second of course for Chicken John Rinaldi, and third for Ahimsa Sumchai. I’ll be curious to see where Newsom goes after the mayoralty, but I doubt I’ll be supporting him.

I voted for Proposition E, requiring the Mayor to appear monthly at a Board of Supervisors meeting, because it seemed totally ridiculous to me that a mayor wouldn’t even bother to show up; against Proposition G because I don’t think the city needs to spend money for horses in Golden Gate Park; against Proposition J because it stipulated working with a private company for city-wide wireless and I’m not at all convinced that’s a great use of city money; for Proposition K because limiting advertising space in the city is clearly a good thing.

Not the most interesting of elections, particularly given that Newsom was always going to win in a massive landslide, but defeating Proposition H was important, and it looks like that’s happened.

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