Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Progressives Lose Out In San Francisco Elections

Ed Lee and George Gascon are on the verge of being elected mayor and district attorney, respectively, in San Francisco, beating more progressive candidates, notably John Avalos and David Onek. 

Avalos and Onek both had enormous grassroots support and built coalitions from a wide and diverse array of community groups.  They pushed progressive ideas which, hopefully, as Onek said, "left an indelible mark on San Francisco."

Avalos ran an amazing campaign, without anything close to the money and machinery of Lee or some of the other candidates.  He actually garnered more votes from those voting at the polls on election day but lost because of the earlier absentee voting that went overwhelming to Lee.  Nevertheless, as Tim Redmond put it, Avalos "moblized thousands of people and demonstrated how much of a force progressives can be."

David Onek, as I wrote here often, would have provided a thoughtful, progressive approach to criminal justice and public safety issues that I'm not sure we're going to see from Gascon, the former police chief.  (See, e.g., Onek's the One, A True Criminal Justice Reformer.)  Onek, like Avalos, made a strong second place showing, and also ran a phenomenal campaign.

Importantly, they both forced debate on progressive issues.  As Avalos declared, "I’m proud that progressive taxation, municipal banking, and free Muni for kids found their way onto the platforms of some of the most moderate candidates."  And Onek ensured that the District Attorney's race was not simply about law and order, but focused on juvenile justice, restorative justice and criminal justice reform.

Onek summed it up:
Our extraordinarily diverse coalition is a living testament to the importance of bringing law enforcement and community together. We defined the key issues of this campaign – from preventing crime, reforming our juvenile justice system and implementing restorative justice programs, to opposing the death penalty and reforming Three Strikes. These are issues many of us have fought for together for the past twenty years and will continue to fight for moving forward.


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