San Francisco changed its limited city-wide elections back to a district system for a very important reason: the Green Party!
San Francisco is a city with a diversity unparalleled by any society
in the entire world with American economic liberties delivering
fair opportunities to anyone. Yet when we look at our Mayor and
the Board of Supervisors a monotony equally unparalleled in the
free world is found. While several years ago we had a wonderful mayoral
race between Gavin Newsom and, seemingly across the political isle,
Matt Gonzalez, we do not have much diversity in our political corpse
because it is Democratic, Democratic, Democratic (with a
sparkle of Green). The 15% of people in San Francisco who consider
themselves Republican, for instance, do not have a representative
in this Baghdad by the Bay. Maybe you like it that way, but it means
a monopoly is in place that feels un-American. The San Francisco Local Party desires implementation of voter equality in its City and County.
The system currently in place does not provide much control to voters.
With the last elections 8 men were elected and just three women. Does
that surprise you? When Gavin Newsom became mayor he appointed Alioto-Pier,
and when Supervisor Jew was found to have broken the law he was replaced by Chu, bringing the number of female Supervisors to three. With all three women being incumbents, and with incumbents tending to get the seat, a question mark can be placed if women have equal chances of getting a seat in district systems. The overall outcome states they do not. Just see for yourself: our research and NationMaster.com
ago, but just ten years ago there was a balance in the outcome:
six male, five female Supervisors. What happened was that the Democrats
changed the system. While limited citywide elections are not the change
we want we consider it a rigged system too it is funny
how the Democrats abandoned it quickly around the same time when
the Green party became a real alternative for voters.
How the system works — and the Green Party's popular attraction
elections, the natural threshold to win a seat is 50% (winner-takes-all), while the limited citywide
elections in place not that long ago had a lower threshold (17% or 20% to get a seat, depending on the cycle of voting for 6 or 5 seats at a time). With
more voter-interest for the Green Party, these opponents
of the Democratic Party would have gotten more seats than they have now (one). The opportunity for the Green Party to get three seats in San Francisco was within reach, and once a single city shows the true viability for a third party, voters in other cities could and would follow suit — or the voters could take a long and good look at the repressive nature of the district system. The two-party system was in grave danger, but seemingly without anyone noticing (even the Green Party itself was asleep), the system was changed back to district voting overnight. All this was covered up with a quick finger-pointing to the power associated with the mayoral seat as the reason, and all people remained asleep.
Nevertheless this real opportunity for a third party to come to the fore,
limited citywide elections is still a rigged system, too. With each person
not voting for one person but for five or six at a time
no full representation was possible either for the San Francisco population
as a whole; it was still a system that benefited Democrats most, because it still kept the Republican Party out of obtaining a seat.
We have no doubts: the Democratic Machine is well alive and, when
something comes its way not to its liking, it springs into actions.
When the Greens came along, the Democratic Machine quickly changed
the system that would have made the city less of a political monopoly, and a shining example of how to strengthen third parties all across the nation.
The San Francisco Local Party would like to break the monopoly stronghold — not by destroying our wonderful local political color, but by helping
all San Francisco aspects come out better. Since the best alternative for
the majority of voters is much like the one attracting your vote
right now, we present ourselves as a party not too far from the
Democratic mark. The difference is that we will listen to you better.
It may surprise you that we stick close to the Democratic ideology,
but competition to a Sushi restaurant is not created by opening
up a Peruvian restaurant but by another Sushi restaurant; competition
means that two organizations of similar creed vie for your vote.
The ultimate benefit is that together we will serve you better.
We may even cause more voters to come out and vote. If many restaurants
open, all offering sushi, only the best will remain in business.
We may find ourselves under heavy competition, but that is how the
United States is built. The political color of the San Francisco
Local Party is therefore blue, just like the Democratic Party; and
since you like it that way, we like it that way. Only after getting the majority on the board, we will change the system to establish voter equality.
Join the San Francisco Local Party.Org by sending us an email.
The SFLP does not want to bring the citywide elections back
not at all. We consider it an inferior system that is not fair enough.
The San Francisco Local Party wants two changes made to the current
situation: replace the winner-takes-all districts with a system
of full representation a system successfully in use in other
cities, but which has never been used in San Francisco before; the
second change would be to install a city-manager, which is already
on the books in California for newly incorporated cities. By hiring
a city-manager the democratic process becomes more fair, since the
mayor would then be hired to manage the truly democratic-and-proportionally
elected Board of Supervisors. Currently, the SFLP would propose
hiring Gavin Newsom for city-manager. He is not only doing an excellent
job unafraid to make stands that fit our wonderful city
but he is very much liked by the people of San Francisco. And the
San Francisco Local Party likes what the people of San Francisco
Proportional elections deliver more democracy, and therefore a
better result for all of us. Most likely one of the people elected
would then be a Republican; fair representation cannot be achieved
when turning your opponents into mute mules. Yet, with only 11 seats
on the Board of Supervisors, it still takes almost 10% of the votes
before someone can get a seat, so no wild men would be elected
by just a handful of votes. Also, the balance of male-female representatives
would get a strong impulse again.
The SFLP wants to stop today's political monopoly — once
& for all — and make the step to proportional democracy
possible because the winner-takes-all system currently in place
slants the seats towards this one party and hardly to anybody else.
We feel that monopoly and democracy don't go together well. Proportional
elections are one person-one vote, and this system does not have
the downfalls of winner-takes-all nor the issues of citywide elections;
they deliver full representation. As such, you can get your own
representative who can deal with very localized issues ánd
with bigger city issues. Are you ready for a democracy of full representation?
Believe it or not, the most important aspect of the SFLP may not
be winning, but participating. Simply by being in the race, giving
voters a real choice between the Democratic party and us, will wake
up the Democratic Party and deliver better what we as voters need.
It's a little bit like Care Not Cash in that the Democratic Party
has to earn your vote instead of hang-gliding the local Zephyr winds
against Republicanism to stay in power. And while we are involved
in creating fair competition, we will also be able to provide you
information about the different systems in place in the world because
not a lot of people know much about the different forms of democracy
in the world.
We have a world famous liberal economic system in place (with full
competition), but we do not have a very freedom loving political
system; other cities and nations do. The different political systems
in other nations may explain why they have less homelessness and
poverty, higher insurance levels (through national policies either
in the public realm or in the private realm), and electoral races
that bring more people to the polls than here. The reason is fairly
simple; not only is there a real choice, but all people are represented,
not just the winners of district elections. While the Federal level
shows healthy competition between Democrats and Republicans
we find them in a balance of power that has lasted for decades now
the States (including California) are already influenced
by that federal level; people move to our state to escape the Redness
of their home states. We welcome all of them here, but while these
blue voters may help many of us feel good about not voting red,
we create a state system in the process that is not very competitive
anymore. This one controlling party can start to move more freely,
often at the account of listening carefully to what voters want.
Nevertheless, compared to the local situation, the House of Representatives
and the Senate in Sacramento still function more competitively than
magnificent San Francisco, where only one seat is held by a non-Democrat,
by Mirkarimi (who won his seat with only a third of the total votes
due to the peculiarities of instant run-off elections).
Here is once again our political goal. We follow a blue outline, similar to
the Democratic party, though depending on the individual take of
our contestants. As soon as the SFLP has the majority of seats the
political system of San Francisco will get changed to serve you
better. Today your vote is always iffy beforehand, but once
we change the system your vote is secured. Naturally, a short-cut
to full representation may appear to place an initiative on the
local ballot, but we don't believe it will work because it takes
education and experience to inform people about a system that is
unfamiliar to most San Franciscans. There is no rush to revolution,
only a wish to create a better future for us all. Once the system
secures full representation, you can pick the person you like from
a long list of politicians, and feel good because your pick will
have more than an excellent chance to become Supervisor. Most of
the times that you vote, your vote will translate into your representative.
That is a stark contrast to the current situation in which up to
49.9% of the voters may go home empty-handed (or in the case of
Mirkarimi: 66%). However, that glorious day is not here yet. We
urge you to help update our antique system of mayor and district
elections, and vote for our Local Party candidate in the next elections
until the system is changed. After the system is changed, we really
don't object if you go back to voting for the Democratic Party;
they have done a good job under the circumstances, but they will
do a much better job when they really have to compete for your vote.
Just to give you an impression though we would do it our
own way here are San Francisco and Rotterdam side by side,
showcasing the political structures of district elections and proportional
elections in the abstract. The different number of board members is not connected
to the system in place; it is a choice made by the officials.
Even though the city of Rotterdam is considered mainly as political
left-leaning, far more colors exist compared to only one overall
blue color in San Francisco. Both circles could have been created
with the mayor in the center, yet the visuals would then not show
how some people are closer and others more removed from City Hall.
The triangles, that are placed besides the large circles, represent
how easy or difficult it is to get to talk to the decision makers.
When well-connected in district elected San Francisco, or coming
in with plans that involve a lot of money, the threshold to access
is rather small (top left), but when knocking on the door as an
ordinary citizen (bottom), it is mighty difficult to get to talk
to the Mayor or Supervisors on a regular basis. In proportional
representation the thresholds exist too, but they are more evenly
distributed in that the citizens can more easily connect to and
communicate with at least some of the Council Members. Money and
connections does not automatically means that the important doors
are wide open. The access to the agenda is more open to all in proportional
An interesting aspect it that churches in San Francisco trying
to help the people who are down and out use the adage that love
is the answer, where in Rotterdam the churches trying to do
the same (for a smaller segment of the population) are using the
adage of conquering the bad by doing the good. One is a
feel-good approach, the other a make-good approach. Receiving fair
representation would definitively help the poorer segments in our
city. And when getting not a chance to representation, but simply
always getting representation, more people will come out to vote.
As you can see, the political color of San Francisco is more blue;
even the specific others colors that have a connection to Mayor
and Supervisors are moved towards a blue color in the smaller circles.
In district elections a single political layer exists, while in
proportional representation the colors shift in most cases only
somewhat; they remain closer to what the voters voted for. Note
that there is no special election for Mayor in the Dutch city: the
Mayor is a city-manager, appointed to fit the larger mix. The current
Mayor is actually closely affiliated to the neo-liberal party (light-green
in this visual), and his job (it is a man) is to manage the city
government, not dictate his own political agenda. The large red
and blue segments are always involved with the outcome (hence the
full connection to the center circle), while other parties contribute
much but not always to the outcome. Similarly in district
elected San Francisco, some Supervisors always contribute to the
outcome, others often, but not always.
Currently, when the SFLP would win 6 or more out of the 11 seats
of Supervisors, we would change the archaic district system into
a modern proportional system, something San Francisco has never
had. Eleven Supervisors would then be voted in based on the wishes
of the voting population. About 9% of the votes would equal one
seat, and people running for a seat can affiliate themselves to
others with a maximum of 11 per group, so if they get voted in with
more than 9% the remaining surplus of votes would go to the ones
they affiliated themselves with for this election. We expect a result
that would still deliver many Democrats a seat (possibly up to seven
or eight seats), but we would most likely see one Republican and
two Green Supervisors on board: a triumph for honest and true representation.
As long as they are all San Franciscans, focusing on San Francisco
issues (not on abortion and same-sex marriage, but on good schools
for all, dog poop on the streets, Muni, and city planning) then
nobody needs to fear diversity on the board.
Come join the San Francisco Local Party and help make our local
democracy more democratic!
Start joining the San Francisco Local Party.Org by sending us an email.
San Francisco Local Party