Campos, Quezada and Sanchez Provide Contrasts in District 9

by Ben Malley on September 9, 2008

With three competitive Supervisor races in swing districts, a wealth of local ballot measures, state propositions and one of the most important presidential elections in recent history, we can forgive progressives for perhaps not paying enough attention to the 3-way progressive battle in District 9 (which includes the Mission District and Bernal Heights) between David Campos, Eric Quezada and Mark Sanchez.

The three candidates participated in a forum presented by the League of Young Voters yesterday, which will eventually lead to an endorsement by the organization. “Please don’t triple endorse,” Sanchez said jokingly, before the debate began.

The word “agree” was tossed around more than anything else, as in “I agree with everything you just said.” However, first the candidates were asked to provide contrasts with their opponents. And while they may agree on many of the issues, according to them, it is in their experiences and style of governing that the differences lie.

Quezada emphasized his background in movement work and organizing, saying he comes out of the 1980s movements in the Mission. He detailed his background as an organizer with PODER and work with the Mission Housing Development Corporation and the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition. “I am grounded in this neighborhood,” he said.

Sanchez, who has served the last eight years on the School Board, and the last two years as president of the Board used his time on the Board as an example that he “consistently votes progressively.” He cited bringing in a progressive superintendent—Carlos Garcia— and leaving the Board unified and with a balanced budget. “You know what you’re going to get with me,” he said.

Campos, who has incumbent Supervisor Tom Ammiano’s endorsement, said that his life story is reflective of many who live in the Mission District. “Having been undocumented for a part of my life gives me a unique perspective,” Campos said. He said that he would continue Ammiano’s legacy of pushing forward a progressive agenda for the city and that his background makes him “the most effective here at being a legislator.”

“Because District 9 is so progressive, it is up to this district’s Supervisor to push the envelope on progressive issues for the city as a whole,” he said.

Quezada responded by saying: “we don’t need just another politician to legislate. We need movement building. Some people may think that is simply an issue of nuance, but to me it is very important.”

As Quezada and Campos gently hit back at each other, Sanchez tried to rise above it all by reiterating his progressive voting credentials on the School Board and saying that it is “important to be able to work with folks,” saying he had done so in his time on the Board.

Asked who they would vote for Board President if they were elected, Sanchez responded quickly with Ross Mirkarimi. Quezada said Chris Daly or Mirkarimi, and Campos said any of the progressives—even mentioning District 1 candidate Eric Mar. They all noted the importance of a progressive as President of the Board, especially if Gavin Newsom were to be elected Governor.

Questions asked by the audience ranged from recent violence in the District to immigration, environmental justice and skyrocketing housing prices. Here there was consensus, with the candidates confronting the issues through the lenses of their backgrounds and areas of expertise.

Everyone praised Ross Mirkarimi’s ability to “talk about public safety in a progressive way.” Campos said he has been pushing for transparency in police officer discipline from his position on the Police Commission. Sanchez expressed his frustrations with gang injunctions and cameras which “don’t address the root causes of these problems.” Quezada said the police need to know who the community leaders in the neighborhood are and that “the folks most impacted by the violence need to have a say.”

Quezada was naturally at his best on about housing issues, bringing up his SF Tenants Union endorsement and saying that we will never build our way out of the housing crisis. He said that it is the affordable housing in the midlevel AMI range where production is needed most and that he has the political will to stand up to developers.

Campos said that he wants to “protect the housing we have” and that he wants a part of the city’s budget for tenants to defend themselves in suits against their landlords. He again mentioned the need for the District 9 Supervisor to be a progressive leader for the city on the affordable housing issue.

Sanchez said that he and the School Board are providing affordable housing for more than 1,000 teachers through community land trusts.

Campos bills himself as the most experienced candidate with the ability to push progressive legislation for the City. Quezada says his experience as a movement organizer and his roots in the district make him the superior candidate. Sanchez advertises consistency in his progressive record. “You know I’m going to do the right thing,” he says.

As long as the campaign stays as positive as it was Monday, progressives will come out winners in District 9 this November.

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