5 challengers to S.F. mayor push grassroots democracy

By Emily Green : sfchronicle – excerpt

Victoria Taffe, left, listens to a San Francisco mayoral candidate public Q & A held by the League of Women Voters on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015.

The five candidates challenging Mayor Ed Lee in next month’s election include a tech worker, a musician and a retired hospital administrator. They range in age from their mid-30s to mid-60s.

But they are united in their belief that the mayor is beholden to wealthy corporate interests and not doing enough to help the city’s low-income and working-class residents.

As candidate Amy Farah Weiss said at a mayoral debate last week, they want to show the city that “grassroots democracy is alive and well.”

The likelihood that any of these contenders will unseat Lee is virtually nil — they have taken on a mayor who, despite grumblings about his performance, no politician was willing to challenge.

So who are they?

Affordable housing idea

Weiss is a Bay Area native who works as a sustainability strategist. She worked for nonprofits on mental health and public health issues and in 2011 founded Neighbors Developing Divisadero, a nonprofit that works to revitalize the neighborhood. She throws out statistics with ease and has concrete policy ideas for expanding the city’s affordable housing stock…

Stuart Schuffman, also known as Broke-Ass Stuart, is a writer/emcee/part-time bartender. Born in Los Angeles, Schuffman attended UC Santa Cruz and moved to San Francisco in 2002. He is the most high profile of the outsider candidates, thanks in part to his comedic timing. Asked what he would do to fix the city’s transit problems at the mayoral debate, he started by saying he loves Muni because that’s where he met his first serious girlfriend…

Francisco Herrera is a soft-spoken musician born and raised in Calexico (Imperial County), near the Mexican border, and has been a San Francisco resident for nearly 30 years. He co-founded the San Francisco Day Labor Program, a nonprofit that helps connect largely immigrant workers with jobs…

Reed Martin is a native of Champaign, Ill., who moved to the city in 2003. He worked in the technology industry at Expedia and designer at iTunes. He describes himself as a big-picture thinker who is interested in new ideas and visions…

Arguably the biggest outsider in this outside group of candidates is Kent Graham, a retired hospital administrator who at 67 is the oldest of the challengers and has lived in the city since 1970. His emphasis is the need for better management… (more)

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