March 2020 Endorsements

These are the SF Green Party Endorsements for the March 3, 2020 election.


Our complete Green Voter Guide is now posted. Click "read more" to see full explanations of the reasons behind our endorsements.





Since we have a contested Presidential primary, Green voters will decide on our nominee and strategy for the November election. The national Green Party has a page on the candidates here, and most of them answered detailed questionnaires, available here.


The SF Green Party has met with several outstanding candidates, but we feel that it is our members' right to make a choice without our thumb on the scales. Please read the questionnaires above, and pick the candidate who will best represent our Party in November.



SF Ballot Measures:

State Ballot Measures:

SF Candidates:

Click below to read our complete Green Voter Guide.

YES on Prop A (City college bond)


Prop A is a $845 million bond measure proposed by the College Board, which would be used to repair buildings, do seismic retrofits, and create more job training facilities. Because it's a bond to fund education, it requires a 55% supermajority to pass rather than a 2/3 supermajority. Despite our reservations about bond funding (see Statement on Bonds, below), we recommend a Yes vote.


City College's main (Ocean) campus is in urgent need of repairs. Many of the buildings have leaky roofs and are subject to flooding. They also have old infrastructure such as heating and cooling systems, and have not been retrofitted to meet modern earthquake safety standards. The funds from Prop A would be used to fix these problems, as well as to update classrooms and labs, which would allow City College to offer more vocational classes.


City College is an important public institution that continues to be attacked by neoliberal forces who are opposed to spending money on free public education. Although Greens would prefer that the funds for repair be included in the regular budget, or raised via a more progressive revenue source than bonds, the public costs of delaying urgent repairs would be too high.


Greens therefore recommend a Yes vote on Prop A.



no consensus on Prop B (Emergency response bond)


Prop B is a $628 million bond measure submitted by the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors. It requires a 2/3 supermajority vote to pass. The funds would be used for various earthquake safety and emergency response projects, including the Emergency Firefighting Water System (EFWS) Project for the City's western neighborhoods. Greens were split on this proposal. Some of us thought the projects funded by Prop B, especially the EFWS, would be a worthwhile public investment (despite our reservations about bond funding; see Statement on Bonds, below). Others of us were strongly opposed due to the lack of specificity in what would be funded, and because voters have already approved funding for many of the projects that would supposedly be funded by Prop B. Because we were unable to come to consensus, Greens did not take a position on Prop B.


Greens all agreed that the Emergency Firefighting Water System, which is the main purpose of Prop B, would be an important public benefit. However, voters in 2002 approved Prop P, which allowed for the SFPUC "to incur bonded indebtedness to finance capital improvements" for our Water and Sewer systems. Proposition P was set to expire on January 1, 2013, then again in 2016, and again in 2019. Each time the terms were set to expire, the Board of Supervisors extended them. It's now set to sunset in 2025. Prop P included provisions to fund things like the EFWS project but has lagged in identifying, funding, and completing them.


The other projects Prop B would fund are largely non-specific, already funded by previous bond measures approved by voters, or could be funded as part of the ordinary budget process. The include "Firefighting," "Police," and "Disaster Response" facilities and infrastructure, but no specifics are provided. Those appear to have been thrown in to Prop B just to win public support. Prop B would also fund an upgrade of the existing 911 call center, an investment of significantly less than $1.2 billion, which could be funded immediately with existing tax revenue.


In 2010 and 2014, voters approved similar bond measures, for $400 million and $412 million, respectively. Because of our concerns about specificity and redundancy with funding already approved in other bond measures, Greens did not come to consensus to either support or oppose Prop B.



YES on Prop C (Retirement benefits)


Prop C would provide retiree health benefits to employees of the SF Housing Authority who were working for that agency when it was taken over by the City last year. It requires a simple majority to pass, and Greens recommend a Yes vote.


The SF Housing Authority oversees public housing and Section 8 voucher programs. It has been at the center of corruption scandals for decades, as Willie Brown and his Mayoral successors used the agency to steal money that was supposed to go to poor people. Former Green Party Supervisor Matt Gonzalez took a lot of heat for trying to wrest the agency away from Mayoral control back in 2001, but he failed in the face of strong opposition from the Mayor's cronies.


Last year, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which had been running the agency, finally allowed it to be taken over by the City. The agency's workers therefore became City employees. However, their years of service to the agency did not allow them to qualify for retiree health benefits, because they had not been City employees prior to the takeover.


Greens strongly believe that the employees should not be penalized for corruption in the agency's leadership. We therefore endorse a Yes vote on Prop C.



YES on Prop D (Vacancy tax)


Prop D would tax vacant ground floor commercial space in neighborhood retail corridors, thus providing an incentive for landlords to lower rents to the point where new businesses could afford to move in. It was sponsored by Supervisor Aaron Peskin, and requires a 2/3 supermajority to pass. Greens strongly recommend a Yes vote.


Despite a booming local economy, vacant storefronts are everywhere in SF. Often, this is a result of commercial landlords raising rents to the point where long-time businesses are forced to close or move out. Due to a prohibition on commercial rent control in California, landlords can raise rents to any level as soon as the lease expires. Because there is little cost to landlords to maintain vacant storefronts, they then keep the store vacant until another business comes along that is willing to pay an exorbitant price. Because only certain types of high profit margin stores can afford these rents, the character of our neighborhoods has changed.


Prop D would create a new tax on commercial landlords who keep their spaces vacant for more than 1/2 of the year. There are exceptions for renovations and disasters, and the tax would not apply to non-profits or public property. The tax would start at $250 per year per linear foot of frontage (i.e., the width of the storefront). For vacancies lasting more than a year, the tax would increase to $500/foot in year two, then to $1000/foot for vacancies lasting more than two years. Prop D would allow these rates to be amended by 2/3 of board, in case of unforeseen impacts.


Prop D is a long-overdue attempt at curbing neighborhood blight caused by our tech-fueled economy. We expect it will result in lower commercial rents and more diverse businesses. Greens therefore were in unanimous consensus in recommending a Yes vote.



NO on Prop E (Office development)


Prop E is a scheme hatched in 2018 by former Mayor Mark Farrell and Supervisor Aaron Peskin to streamline the building of 5.7 million square feet of office space (approximately three Salesforce towers) and 15,000 new apartments (a mix of market rate luxury condos and "affordable" units) in SoMa. Following this building glut, future office space development would be restricted unless more "affordable" housing is built, or until developers put yet another pro-gentrification scheme onto the ballot that supersedes this one. Prop E requires only a simple majority vote to pass. The Green Party is strongly opposed to it.


Real estate money in the form of faceless corporate players who dominate local politics has shown up again in Prop E. The back story of Prop E is Back-To-The-Future-complicated. In 1986, voters approved Prop M, an annual cap on office space development, in an attempt to curb excess capital investment in real estate that threatened to consume large swaths of the City. Since then, trickles of public benefit have been squeezed from developers engaging in the Planning Department’s beauty contest between corporate overlords competing for coveted boardrooms with views. "Progressive" career politicians have agglutinated concession cash and stashed it with nonprofit allies who provide valuable resources for their election campaigns. "Moderates" just take stacks of cash (or the occasional prepaid debit card).


This false dichotomy between progressives and moderates rears its ugly head in Prop E. Although TODCO (Tenants and Owners Development Corporation, the sponsor of Prop E) is one of the better non-profit developers, the concession that is buried in the legal text of Prop E reads like a straight-up sellout. It allows for a "Central SoMa Incentive Reserve" to be created, and gives the Planning Commission the go-ahead to "approve up to an additional 1.7 million square feet in total of office space located in the Central SoMa Special Use District" from developers who have already entered the beauty pageant. In addition, the annual Prop M cap on office development would become an annualized amount, meaning that developers could "borrow" against their their next 10 years of Prop M space. This provision allows 4 million square feet of office space already in the pipeline for Central SoMa to be built all at once, rather than a little bit each year. As a result, developers could bullrush the market to find places to stash their capital while it's hot, leaving Central SoMa even more clearly in their crosshairs.


After the 5.7 million square feet of new office space (4 million previously approved plus 1.7 million added by the "incentive reserve" above) are built in SoMa, Prop E would also demand that 15,000 new units of housing be built in the neighborhood, before any further offices could be built. This would effectively upzone Western SoMa, as the developer advocacy group SPUR has wanted for 20 years. This means 150 new 100-unit buildings, which would cause massive demolition and displacement of current residents. Much of the new housing would be luxury condos, which would only create further gentrification. Unfortunately, nearly all "progressive" Democratic politicians and Dem clubs have lined up behind Peskin, while closing their eyes to these effects.


San Francisco is not an "Office Park", but a living thriving community of offices, small businesses, renters, stores, and homes and the balance needs to be maintained. Those of us who have been here for many years have seen the flight of small businesses out of SF, and with them goes much of the character of the City. More office towers will not maintain our City's character.


Prop E would impose, after this initial give-away to developers, a link between office production and housing production, specifically "affordable" housing production which is supposed to help San Franciscans who have suffered and will suffer as a result of hyper-gentrification. As always, the term "affordable" begs the question: "Affordable to whom?" Green Party members who live and work in SoMa would like to see limits on office development, and housing that is affordable to those of us who currently live here - without a huge handout to developers.


In short, Prop E would change the Prop M annual limit on office space, and would allow up to 6 times that limit to be started now. The Measure's requirements of building "affordable housing” and conformance to the General Plan will be sidelined until some projects in the pipeline are built. Loopholes such as in lieu fees "to a transit or housing fund of the City" could be exploited to avoid actually building any affordable housing for years, if ever.


Please vote "No" on this boondoggle!



NO on Prop 13 (School bond with lower developer fees)


Prop 13 looks like a $15 billion school bond. Unfortunately, a not-so-obvious provision hidden in Prop 13 is a prohibition on charging fees to real estate developers in order to fund schools. Therefore, the long-term effect of Prop 13 would be to shift funding for school construction from a progressive revenue stream (developer fees) to a regressive one (bonds that help the rich become richer; see our Statement on Bonds, below). Therefore, the Green Party is strongly opposed.


If passed, Prop 13 would allocate $15 billion for school construction: $9 billion for preschool to K-12 (including $500 million for new charter schools), $2 billion for community colleges, $2 billion for the California State University, and $2 billion for the University of California.


This "bond mixed with a developer fee waiver" model would be a repeat of Prop 51, which passed in 2016. At the time, we wrote in opposition:

  • However, Prop 51 was put on the ballot by a group of real estate developers and construction companies, and contains a little-noticed provision. Currently, cities can charge fees to developers in order to partially offset the costs of providing City services to new developments; these services might include new schools, increased public transit, water and sewer infrastructure, etc. Prop 51 would prohibit school districts from raising developer fees in order to pay for new schools, thereby resulting in lower fees (and higher profits) for the developers.


We urge you to vote "No" this time as well.



Congress: no endorsement


It's a daunting task to find a dynamic candidate to run against the the most powerful Democrat in the House of Representatives. Green Party voices have been shut out by the "Top Two" system in an election where San Franciscans will determine which candidate has necessary progressive platform to differentiate themselves from the moderate stances of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.


Two such candidates in question, Tom Gallagher and Shahid Buttar, certainly do hold relatively progressive stances that resonate with the 10 Key Values of the Green Party. However, at our endorsement meeting, both gave painfully detailed explanations as to why they won't, or can't, switch parties. Neither candidate tried to build a unified progressive alliance (including Greens) in order to reach consensus on who might lead the progressive cause against Pelosi. This begs the question as to how much the political establishment values the perspective of Greens and other third party progressives. SF's "progressives" act like they're open to more diverse political views than they actually are.


The ongoing dilemma about whether Greens should support such Democrats must be considered in light of two candidates who aren't intrepid enough to do the party switchover, even when such candidates might bring over their supporters and create a more vibrant Green party in this election and beyond.


So in 2020, Greens have once again been shut out of having a stake in the Congressional election. Perhaps with Pelosi apparently not running again next time, 2022 might bring a more open and transparent attitude to the process, and the healing that is long overdue.


We therefore did not endorse any candidate this time around.



State Senate: no endorsement


Three candidates have been certified for the District 11 State Senator contest. Unlike our famously partisan "non-partisan" City elections, candidates for state offices are identified on the ballot by party affiliation or non-affiliation. Voters were tricked into rigging elections by passing a legislatively referred constitutional amendment that established a "Top Two" primary system in 2010. Two Democrats or a Democrat and and a Republican will therefore advance to the November election after the March primary.


Active members of the SF Green Party have expressed significant concerns about endorsing any member of either corporate party for partisan contests, and we wish that the crippling effects of the "Top Two" system on our already crippled democracy could be remedied by unrigging our elections. We did not endorse any of the three candidates in this election.


Incumbent Scott Wiener has stood in direct opposition to the Green Party's 10 Key Values since he served the corporatocracy as a SF Supervisor. He consistently earned among our lowest grades on Green Report Cards for 6 years before shuffling off to Sacramento as a reward for community disservice and servitude to his deep-pocketed donors. He sided against Green Party activists on issues regarding the environment, public education, privatization, corporate hegemony, government and police accountability, rent control, gentrification, sanctuary city policy, black lives matter, and transparency in government. Now, installed in Sacto, he is making a career out of a ham-fisted attempt to turn over the state's housing stock to corporate investors via a fake grassroots, free-market fundamentalist, propagandized legislative campaign that incorporates a trickle-down model similar to 1980's Reaganomics, SB827/SB50. Wiener is the epitome of a corporate tool run amok in the state capitol. He is fully-funded by the tech/real estate cabal in this contest.


Jackie Fielder (Democrat) and Erin Smith (Republican) are also on the ballot in this primary election. We appreciate that Ms. Fielder took the time to meet with SF Green Party members at our endorsement meeting, but we were in consensus that no candidate has earned our endorsement.





This election cycle, there are three open seats on the Superior Court.


We sent each candidate a short questionnaire asking them their opinions on the death penalty, reproductive rights, corporate personhood, and other issues.


These are questions that judicial candidates often refuse to answer, citing the code of conduct linked here:

  • (Candidates for judge) shall not: with respect to cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office;


This time we asked candidates about their history of activism around these issues, and the answers we received were enlightening.


We were pleased to learn that all the candidates for these three open seats are female. Women are still very under-represented in our judicial branch of government.


We awarded a sole endorsement to Maria Evangelista for Seat 1. For the other two seats, we felt that both candidates were sufficiently in accord with our 10 Key Values, so we dual-endorsed both of them. Green voters are encouraged to read each candidate's website and choose their favorite.


Superior Court Judge, Seat 1: Maria Evangelista


Maria Evangelista is a long-time public defender and a board member of La Raza Centro Legal, which provides legal services to the immigrant community. Although we did not endorse her in the last election due to lack of information about her political viewpoints, this time we were able to discuss her history of activism against the Death Penalty, for reproductive rights, and for immigrant rights. We are now confident that she upholds the Green Party's 10 Key Values, and she has earned our strong endorsement in this election!


Evangelista ran previously in 2018, when she challenged an incumbent judge. Contesting a sitting judge can be a controversial move in the legal community. Former Green Party Mayoral candidate Matt Gonzalez, who is now Chief Attorney for the SF Public Defender's Office, wrote about Evangelista and other public defenders running for judge at the time. His essay also raised interesting questions regarding the merits of contesting judicial elections.


Superior Court Judge, Seat 18: Dorothy Chou Proudfoot and Michelle Tong (dual endorsement)


Dorothy Chou Proudfoot has no history (that we're aware of) in activism opposing the death penalty, but she does have a history of fighting for women's rights, and she has promoted the careers of both women and underrepresented minority candidates. She has also been supportive of tenants' rights.


Michelle Tong is a public defender, who has a long history of fighting on behalf of social justice issues. In general, Greens are inclined to support public defenders over prosecutors and corporate attorneys. She has the support of most of the progressive community.


We were impressed with both candidates, and therefore encourage Greens to choose their favorite.


Superior Court Judge, Seat 21: Rani Singh and Carolyn Gold (dual endorsement)


Rani Singh was a prosecutor who previously worked under progressive DA Terence Hallinan. Although she worked as a prosecutor, she opposes the Death Penalty and was an early supporter of legal marijuana. We think that her values seem very consistent with ours.


Carolyn Gold was very forthcoming in her answers to our questionnaire. She opposes the Death Penalty and supports public financing of elections, upholding Roe vs Wade, and decriminalization of drug use.


We are happy to endorse both candidates for this position, and encourage Greens to choose your favorite.



SF Green Party Statement on Bond Funding


The SF Green Party has often been hesitant to embrace bond financing. In addition to being environmentally and socially responsible, we are also fiscally responsible. Bond funding requires payments totaling about twice the actual cost of whatever improvements are made, and passes costs on to future generations. Because people who buy bonds are almost exclusively the wealthy, as investors are paid back over the 20-30 year life of the bond, wealth is transferred from middle and low income taxpayers to rich bondholders.


Bond funding also helps rich people avoid paying their fair share of taxes, since interest on municipal bonds is exempt from both state and federal tax. As noted in the California Voter Guide in 1992, over 35,000 U.S. millionaires supplemented their income with tax exempt state and local bond checks averaging over $2,500 per week (that's over $130,000 per year tax free). They avoided paying federal and state taxes on over $5 billion, which must be made up by the rest of us. The SF Green Party calls on the public to join us in working to phase out this regressive and unfair subsidy of the rich and their investment bankers (who take millions of dollars off the top when the bonds are issued).


There are a few cases in which Greens have supported bond measures. In general, we are willing to support bonds that are issued to in order to build urgently needed, publicly-owned infrastructure, such as a public hospital or high speed rail. We generally oppose bonds that fund ongoing maintenance projects; these should be paid for using City revenues (which should be increased by raising taxes on the wealthy).