The Amazing Race
No matter who wins this year’s Race to Room 200, I think we can all agree it’ll be a relief to see this thing come to an end. What started in January with Gavin Newsom’s departure to Sacramento has evolved into a virtual soap opera. I’ve followed the twists and turns, both because it’s kind of my job and because I’m kind of a nerd. After spending a lot of time with most of the candidates, and getting to know many of them personally, here’s my own rundown of the Mayoral Class of 2011:
Public Defender and noted hugger Jeff Adachi entered the race at the last possible legal second. This is probably because he was busy at the gym working on his sweet, tattooed guns. Have you seen this guy’s arms? Jeff Adachi also cares intensely about pension reform. You should ask him about it, so when you’re done discussing the budget and stuff, you can hug Jeff Adachi and his manly arms.
Board of Supervisors President David Chiu is a nerd. I mean this in the best and most complimentary way possible. We want nerds in charge, people who not only can understand the minutiae of city government, but also care about it deeply. That’s David Chiu. He has, like, 11 degrees from Harvard and plays the electric violin. The Chiu campaign even had volunteers dress up and campaign as “Chiubacca.” If he can get his target demographic to leave their moms’ basements and put on some pants, David just might take this thing.
Former Supervisor Bevan Dufty brought an entertaining emotion to the endless mayoral forums with his enthusiastic commitment to the African-American experience. If he’s mentioned it once, he’s mentioned it a thousand times: Billie Holiday is his godmother and he was raised in Harlem. Bevan Dufty is basically a cast member of Fame. Of all the candidates, it’s easiest to talk to Dufty about things regular people like. He watches Glee
and listens to diva rock. There is a case to be made for San Francisco electing a highly qualified Beyoncé fan.
Michela Alioto-Pier is funnier than she reveals publicly. I guess because this is a race to run the city and not the Montreal Comedy Competition, Michela’s kept her humor on the down-low. But occasionally during mayoral debates, particularly when a fellow candidate says something truly unique, she’ll shoot me the side eyes. And it’s awesome.
There are three things you need to know about former Supervisor Tony Hall. The first is that I heard him speak at a Tea Party rally and repeatedly mention that he’s not a Democrat. I imagine that might matter to a few of you. The second is that I grew up dancing to his band, Tony Hall and the Hallmarks, at country-club father-daughter dances, which I fully realize is both sweet and annoying. And the third is that Tony Hall’s speaking voice is a gift from the heavens. Mr. Hall’s vocal cords are like moving velvet paintings of Ryan Gosling grinning.
Supervisor John Avalos is clearly the progressive choice in this race. Naturally, this required that the Avalos campaign release a video of John riding a bicycle through the city at dusk to European mood music. As much as I fear that he might abolish Banana Republic if elected, I’ve grown to genuinely like John Avalos. While the Supervisor has never particularly warmed to (nor acknowledged at all, really) any of my attempts at humorously covering this race, I’ve always gotten the impression that John is sincere and well intentioned. What with this being politics and all, I’m… speechless.
When he was appointed Mayor, Ed Lee was an adorable, mustached, reluctant hero. I just wanted to put him in my pocket and ask for life advice. But it feels like the only part of Ed Lee’s adorable, mustached, reluctant charm that his campaign has retained is the mustache. Before this race, I’d never heard of “Chinatown power broker Rose Pak,” who’s apparently proudly pulling the strings of Mayor Lee. These days, I’m convinced she’s the sixth member of the Pentaverate, meeting tri-annually at a secret country mansion known as “The Meadows.” I just can’t help but feel that Tim Robbins would disapprove of the way this all went down.
Terry Joan Baum
Terry Baum is the only Green Party candidate in the race. I first met her at the famed Castro Theatre mayoral debate, the one with the booing and the airhorns. Though she was not invited to participate, Terry planted herself in a chair on the stage and refused to budge. Normally, this type of behavior would be met with police action. But something about the firm and rational way she handled herself resulted in Terry getting to stay. Terry Baum basically crashed a debate without being an asshole about it, and as a result, won me over.
Prior to his entering the race, all I knew about State Senator Leland Yee was that he’d been arrested for reportedly shoplifting suntan oil in Hawaii (a million years ago), he was twice stopped for allegedly chatting with prostitutes (also a million years ago), and he’d never lost an election. After a year of following his campaign, I can report that Yee is amazing on stage, and his celebrity endorsements include the rapper Too $hort. Off stage, I wish he were more personable. The Senator never says hello. Not once. I’VE TRIED. When candidates stop and say hello, it gets harder to make fun of them on the Internet. Like I said, Leland Yee has never stopped and said hello. Soooo… “99 bottles of tanning oil on the wall. 99 bottles of tanning oil. If one of those bottles should happen to fall, quick! Pick it up before Leland Yee steals it.”
One of the things I’ve noticed about City Attorney Dennis Herrera, in addition to the length of his eyelashes, is that he always tried really, really hard at debates to listen to the questions and answer them thoughtfully. I remember seeing him up there and thinking, “Jesus, this is hard work.” Night after night, the mayoral forums and debates have been endless. Every candidate has occasionally and justifiably phoned in a performance. No big deal. But not Dennis. He exhaustively labors through the most random of neighborhood gatherings. I expect that the weight of his eyelashes will one day win the war and Dennis will fall asleep onstage at the Farallon Neighborhood Association Mayoral Forum.
For being best friends with Quincy Jones, Joanna Rees is surprisingly normal. The first time I saw Joanna at a political event, she was swathed in flawless designer apparel, which I then noted on the Internet. In response, Joanna asked me to coffee and tried to convince me that, for a venture capitalist, she’s totally down to earth and loves to shop consignment. But the whole time she was talking, I was really just waiting for million-dollar bills to fall out of her pockets.
How many emails have you gotten from the always-in-a-great-mood Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting? You don’t have to count up your yearly or monthly totals. That would be ridiculous. How many emails have you gotten this week from Phil Ting? How many today? How many since you’ve started reading this post? A lot, right? Yeah. I know. Me too.
Do It Yourself
Vote! That's how you “do it yourself.” Next Tuesday, November 8th, get your ass down to your local polling station and cast your votes. Plural. That's right. You get three. This year's ranked choice voting system means every single vote truly does count in weird and complex ways I still don't understand.
Vive la liberté!