by Geri Koeppel : hoodline – excerpt
The hot election this year is, of course, the U.S. presidential race and nominations. But here in San Francisco, a battle is brewing within the Democratic party as well that could shape its direction. And it centers on an issue near and dear to many city residents’ hearts—housing development—as well as the newly elected District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin.
The San Francisco Democratic Party has an elected governing body called the Democratic County Central Committee, or DCCC (also called the “DC3”). In the June 7th election, 60 people are running for 24 seats (though 10 are incumbents) on the committee, which is influential in making endorsements in other races—including the presidential campaign—and ballot issues. Voting starts in early May.
District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin is a major force in this election. He served on the DCCC from 2000-02 and was chair from 2008–12, but didn’t run in 2012. Even prior to that—but especially since then—Peskin and his supporters see the party as becoming too pro-development and out of touch with voters on issues like affordable housing, and they’re running a “reform slate” of candidates to try to balance out those interests.
Meanwhile, Mary Jung, chair of the DCCC, says Peskin and his slate are the ones who are out of touch, and she says Peskin is taking over the party to build a “political machine.” Her allies are running on their own slate, and still others—like Gary McCoy, former senior aide to the previous D3 Supervisor Julie Christensen—are running independently.
Why care about the internal workings of this committee? The recent D3 race notwithstanding, its endorsements tend to be influential. And that could make a big difference in the way the political winds blow, because it could effect a shift in power at the Board of Supervisors in this November’s election.
The lobbyist loophole
First, some of the concerns from the Peskin camp. Jon Golinger, one of Peskin’s closest political allies, is running for DCCC on the reform slate, and he and others say it’s a conflict of interest that DCCC chair Mary Jung is a lobbyist for the San Francisco Association of Realtors.
“A year after she was on DCCC, they hired her to be their face at City Hall,” said Golinger, who’s also a longtime activist for North Beach, Telegraph Hill and the waterfront. “That was shocking. It’s one of these loopholes because the Democratic party is different than other city offices.” (Other elected officials are forbidden from being lobbyists while in office.)
Golinger says of the reform slate: “The only thing we’re unified around is that the Democratic party should be independent from the real estate lobby.”.
Golinger told us the party has had a “dividing line” between more pro-business/ pro-development members and others for about 15 years, but after Jung’s election, “it’s sharpened pretty dramatically.” He added, “There’s never been a chair who’s that much of a lightning rod” because of her affiliation with an interest group.
He added that he and his fellow reformers want to put in place strong conflict-of-interest rules. “I wouldn’t want the Sierra Club to be in charge of the Democratic Party either,” he noted. (Golinger is an outspoken member of the Sierra Club, which has come under fire for its opposition to many housing developments for decades.)… (more)