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 four 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 our Baghdad by the Bay. Maybe you like it that way, but it means a monopoly is in place that feels un-American.

Where is that competitive edge that makes democracy feel good? The San Francisco Local Party would like to break the monopoly mold — not by distroying our local political color, but by helping the other 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.

The SFLP wants to create the change from the current political mono-culture into a democracy that better reflects the diverse people that we are — gender, income, race/ethnicity, political direction — while listening to who we represent better. Even when we end up not obtaining a single seat, two parties competing for your vote in a tight race and wanting to give you what you really want will lead to all elected officials listening more carefully to you than a single party, one that has been in almost absolute control for years in a row now. Naturally, if you focus on National or State issues you may feel that the Democratic Party should locally be as strong as possible, but isn't democracy better served when the alternative is also locally based and real instead of at the Federal or State level with an alternative that is not liked locally? San Francisco is a city, not a state or nation, and our votes should be about local issues. That's why the SFLP ís a local party; we take a stance on issues that are local, and give you the truth about what needs to be done locally.

The system in place does not provide much control to the voters. With the last elections 9 men were elected and just two women. Does that surprise you? When Gavin Newsom became mayor he appointed Alioto-Pier and brought the number of female Supervisors to three. Not ages 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 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. With district elections the threshold is 50% (winner-takes-all), while citywide elections had a lower threshold (17% - 20% to get a seat). With more voter-interest for the Green party, these Democratic opponents would have gotten more seats than they have now (one). Nevertheless, citywide elections was 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 for the San Francisco population as a whole; it was still a system that benefited Democrats most. 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.

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 like.

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 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. 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 representation.

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!

 

 

San Francisco Local Party

 

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District Elections,
Citywide Elections,
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