17th Assembly District

17th Assembly District

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Voting has changed in San Francisco County this year. The Voter’s Choice Act was enacted in the county to make voting more convenient. Changes include an expanded period of in-person early voting, every registered voter in the county will receive a vote-by-mail ballot, and every registered voter in the county is able to vote in-person at any Vote Center in their county. Also, in-person voters in San Francisco County will have the opportunity to use the new voting system, Democracy Suite, a touchscreen tablet with audio features, to mark their ballots. Have questions about the changes to voting in San Francisco County? Visit your county elections website.

Congress, 12th Congressional District

Member of the House of Representatives

Nancy Pelosi photo

Builds Power
Builds Representation

Congressional Representative and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is originally from Baltimore, Maryland and is the daughter of Baltimore Democratic Mayor Thomas D'Alesandro Jr. She is the incumbent, having represented District 12 in Congress since 1987. She first moved to San Francisco in 1969 and started a Democratic Party club at her home. When she entered politics, it was originally behind the scenes as a fundraiser and recruiter of Democratic candidates. It wasn’t until she turned 47, after her youngest child had left for college, that she ran for office herself in 1987, raising $1 million in seven weeks to win a special election and her first term representing District 12. 

In representing the needs and interests of the 12th Congressional District, Speaker Pelosi has been able to advance policy priorities that have pushed the country in a strongly progressive direction. Speaker Pelosi played a large role in resetting the agenda on LGBTQ+ rights and the AIDS crisis during a time when both were vilified in the national debate. Speaker Pelosi also played a major role in architecting the landmark assault weapons ban that passed in 1994 and was in effect until it expired in 2004. 

Speaker Pelosi is the 52nd Speaker of the House of Representatives. She is the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House and is in her third term in this position. 

Notable legislation passed during her speakership includes the Affordable Care Act -- which she is credited with saving as it appeared to be falling apart in 2009-10 -- the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act. Speaker Pelosi will be remembered for her achievements in breaking down gender barriers on Capitol Hill and paving the way for women leaders to enter negotiations at every level in government.

As she manages her ideologically diverse Democratic caucus in the House, progressives have advanced many substantive, thoughtful critiques of Speaker Pelosi’s leadership. These include her slowness to embrace the impeachment of Donald Trump, her support for impeachment only on the narrowest of grounds, her lack of support for a Green New Deal (or any other proposal) to avoid climate armageddon, and her choice of leadership at the DCCC -- which has actively tried to protect incumbent Democrats from progressive challengers, no matter how abhorrent their records.

Speaker Pelosi is being challenged by Agatha Bacelar (D), Shahid Buttar (D), Tom Gallagher (D), John Dennis (R), and DeAnna Lorraine (R). Ideologically speaking, her Democratic challengers have stronger progressive positions, particularly Shahid Buttar (a self-identified democratic socialist) who has emerged at Pelosi’s most prominent challenger. While we are not recommending Buttar in this guide, we appreciate that he is pushing Speaker Pelosi to be bolder. Perhaps Buttar will succeed Pelosi in 2022, as there have been numerous reports that Speaker Pelosi plans to step down soon.

According to our analysis, despite progressive critiques with which we agree, Speaker Pelosi deserves your vote in 2020 as the strongest choice to maintain Democratic momentum and make real progressive change under a Democratic president in 2021.

Last updated: 2020-02-28

State Assembly, 17th District

Member of the State Assembly

David Chiu  photo

Builds Power
Builds Progress
Builds Representation

David Chiu is from Boston and moved to San Francisco in 1996. He is the incumbent, having served in this position since 2014. According to campaign materials he is running for re-election to continue to use his long history as a consensus-building public leader to move policy forward on a range of progressive issues.

In the State Assembly, Chiu was appointed to serve as the Assistant Speaker pro Tempore during his first year, and has authored 48 bills that have been signed into law. Included among those bills is legislation to address the state’s affordable housing and homeless crisis, uphold abortion rights, and improve the sustainability of public transportation. Chiu currently Chairs the Assembly Housing & Community Development Committee, and serves as the Chair of the California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, and sits on four additional committees. Prior to his election to the State Assembly, Chiu served as the President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for six years, where he authored 110 city ordinances. Chiu spent his early career working as a civil rights attorney for the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, and the U.S. Senate Constitution Subcommittee. Chiu also founded a public affairs technology company called Grassroots Enterprise, where he served as the Chief Operating Officer.

Chiu has no challengers in this race. He scores a lifetime 98 out of 100 on Courage Score, our annual analysis of a legislator’s progressive voting record. Based on our Courage Score analysis, Chiu has consistently shown great courage advocating or the needs of constituents and facing down corporate lobbyists and interest groups that exploit Californians.

According to our analysis, David Chiu is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.

Last updated: 2020-02-21

San Francisco County Superior Court

San Francisco County, Judge of the Superior Court, Position #1

San Francisco County Bar Association ranking: QUALIFIED

Maria Evangelista has been a Deputy Public Defender in San Francisco for 16 years. Evangelista is a San Francisco native and was born to undocumented parents in SoMa. Evangelista received her undergraduate degree from San Francisco State University and her law degree from Vanderbilt University. 

Evangelista is one of the Deputy District Attorneys in San Francisco’s Collaborative Court, specifically in the Veterans Court. She is running on a platform that is concerned with disparities in criminal justice. As a judge, she “would be the protector of the Constitution for all people.” She ran unsuccessfully for judge in 2018 on a slate with three other District Attorneys. 

Last updated: 2020-02-28

Pang Ly photo

San Francisco County Bar Association ranking: QUALIFIED

Pang Ly’s family fled Vietnam in 1979, and after almost a year in a refugee camp, were able to settle in Missouri. Ly received her undergraduate degree and law degree from the University of Missouri. She worked as a prosecutor in Jefferson County, Missouri before moving to the Bay Area in 2000. 

Upon her return to the Bay, Ly was in civil litigation from 2000-2008. She returned to Missouri for a short period before returning to the Bay Area, where she joined the San Francisco Superior Court Asbestos Department as a settlement officer in 2010. In 2016 Ly was named commissioner pro tem, and works on a variety of cases including asbestos, probate and complex litigation. Recently, she oversaw the negotiations between the city, developers, community groups, and private citizens to resolve issues around the Central SoMa Plan that impacted the San Francisco Flower Mart and San Francisco Tennis Club.

Last updated: 2020-02-28

San Francisco County, Judge of the Superior Court, Position #18

San Francisco County Bar Association ranking: WELL-QUALIFIED

Dorothy Chou Proudfoot is an Administrative Law Judge at San Francisco Rent Board. Previously, she was a Deputy District Attorney in the Marin County District Attorney's Office for 16 years. In 2017, she was elected President of the Marin County Bar Association and is the first Asian-American to hold that post. She is also President-Elect of the Earl Warren American Inn of Court and Vice President of Women Lawyers of Alameda County. 

On her website, Proudfoot states: “I am running for San Francisco Superior Court Judge to protect the rights of all who enter the courtroom, to uphold the important role of the judiciary in preserving our democracy, and to improve equal access to justice.” 

Proudfoot received her undergraduate and law degree from the University of California at Berkeley. 

Last updated: 2020-02-19

San Francisco County Bar Association ranking: QUALIFIED

Michelle Tong has spent over 16 years as Deputy Public Defender in San Francisco County. Prior to joining the Public Defender's office, she was Eviction Defender at the Eviction Defense Collaborative. Prior to law school, she also worked at Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus on immigration and employment issues. 

Tong is running to address inequities in the justice system and the “well-documented disparities that exist in our courts by addressing the implicit biases on our judiciary.” She wants to support a “system that focuses on making victims whole through restorative justice principles.” 

Tong received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz and her law degree from McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific. 

Last updated: 2020-02-19

San Francisco County, Judge of the Superior Court, Position #21

Carolyn Gold photo

San Francisco County Bar Association ranking: QUALIFIED

Carolyn Gold serves as the Director of Litigation and Policy at the Eviction Defense Collaborative. Gold has spent over 20 years as a tenants rights lawyer and advocate. 

The Eviction Defense Collaborative provides support for low-income residents, including renters facing eviction and residents of homeless shelters funded by the city. She previously served as supervising director of the Bar Association of San Francisco's Justice and Diversity Center and as Judge Pro Tem for the San Francisco Superior Court. 

She is a graduate of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and she earned her J.D. from U.C. Hastings College of the Law. 

Last updated: 2020-02-20

San Francisco County Bar Association ranking: EXCEPTIONALLY WELL QUALIFIED

Kulvindar “Rani” Singh has been a San Francisco Assistant District Attorney for over 20 years. Since 2016, she has been the Managing Attorney for the Domestic Violence Unit and the Collaborative Courts and Mental Health Units. She began her legal career at the Berkeley Community Law Center (now EBCLC), defending low-income tenants against wrongful eviction. 

Singh has been recognized on numerous occasions for her work on human trafficking cases, including the Modern Day Abolitionist Award from the San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking. She was also nominated to the Judicial Council’s State Advisory Committee for Collaborative Courts. 

Singh attended City College of San Francisco, and the University of California, Davis. She received her J.D. from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law.

Last updated: 2020-02-19

Statewide Ballot Measures

Proposition 13

Vote YES On Prop 13, School and College Facilities Bond

This proposition would provide $9 billion for desperately needed renovations to public preschools and grade schools throughout the state, and $6 billion for construction to community colleges, the Cal State system, and the UC system. This will allow the state of California to use tax revenue to pay for improvements that local communities cannot afford. 

The funding would come from bonds the state would pay back over 35 years, totaling an estimated $26 billion, which includes $15 billion in principal and $11 billion in interest. This investment is well worth the costs. It takes money, after all, to ensure that students -- especially those in districts that can’t afford major capital improvement projects -- do not have to learn in dangerous environments. 

The vast majority of Democrats in the state legislature support it, as does Gov. Newsom, and the only major opposition is a group called the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. This is the group famous for destroying California’s school funding system in 1978 through another proposition, ironically one that was also dubbed Prop 13. The group spends most of its time lobbying to reduce tax rates. It has never shown any interest in supporting California’s children, at least if that means wealthy individuals or giant corporations would pay their fair share in taxes.

Critics of the measure have pointed out that the ballot measure’s language includes a provision that frees new multi-family developments around subway stops and bus stations from school impact fees. This provision will make it easier for developers to build apartment buildings within a half-mile of public transit but could also drive up the cost of new housing and take funds away from school districts across the state. Despite this provision, the measure is still supported by most education groups in the state, who believe the overall funding allocation to schools outweighs the impact of reduced funding to school districts located near transit hubs. 2020’s Prop 13 is worth the investment since it means children will soon be able to attend school in buildings that are retrofitted to withstand earthquakes and no longer have lead in their water. 

We strongly recommend a YES vote on Prop 13.

Last updated: 2020-03-02

San Francisco County Ballot Measures

Initiative E

Vote YES on Proposition E

Prop E is a measure that provides part of the solution towards San Francisco’s housing crisis. Sponsored by Todco, a nonprofit that manages affordable housing developments, the measure ties the city’s ability to approve new office development plans to the creation of affordable housing. Prop E would modify an older law, Prop M, which imposed an annual limit on office development. Prop M passed in 1986 after a number of tall towers abruptly changed the city skyline. Prop M limits the city to only 875,000 square feet in new large office projects per year, and Prop E would limit that growth further, reducing it by whatever amount the city falls short on its state-mandated affordable housing goals. 

Advocates of Measure E -- which include numerous progressive allies of Courage California -- believe that the growth of commercial space is part of what is driving up the cost of housing and has to be slowed unless affordable housing is added, as well. While more and more businesses flock to the city of San Francisco, creating jobs, there is no where for the employees to live. It is not unusual to hear of SF employees commuting in from as far as Merced -- spending the majority of their day getting to and from work. 

The measure’s opposition includes developers and city officials. Together they claim Prop E will simply raise the cost of commercial space and limit job growth in the city. The city controller’s analysis expands upon that claim by estimating that Prop. E. would cause the city to lose out on 10 million square feet in office space, 47,000 jobs, and 8.6 percentage points in economic growth in the next 20 years. However, considering that office development is increasing while affordable housing development is stagnating, it is unclear who those jobs and city’s funds will go to when only the super rich can afford to live in San Francisco. When we consider that, plus the fact that the measure is supported by Courage’s closest allies that work daily on affordable housing issues, it leads us to recommend you support the measure. 

Vote YES on Prop E.

Last updated: 2020-03-02

Proposition A

Vote YES on Proposition A, City College Bond Issue

City College’s facilities were largely built in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and the school has deferred repairs and safety upgrades on many of its properties for years. These deferrals have resulted in facilities and even some campuses closing -- the Civic Center campus has been closed since 2015 due to code violations and concerns about it’s earthquake readiness. Prop A is a bond measure that would allow the college to borrow $845 million from taxpayers to pay for needed seismic retrofits, as well as accessibility improvements and other safety repairs. The money would also be put towards making future buildings more environmentally friendly, a worthy goal. 

The San Francisco Community College District Board of Trustees believes this measure will only pay for about half of the school’s needed repairs, so it is possible we will see another bond measure on the ballot in the future. Regardless, this bond is necessary, as the majority of the college’s buildings are ranked “poor” or “very poor” on the facilities condition index. 

It’s fair to say that City College of San Francisco has had its share of negative headlines recently, between a series of unpopular faculty cuts and several other dramas. The trustees coming to voters for $845 million on the heels of all of that isn’t ideal. Still, the college is an important city service and should be a safe place to learn.
Vote YES on Prop A.

Last updated: 2020-02-26

Proposition B

Vote YES on Proposition B, Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response Bond

Prop B would allow the city of San Francisco to borrow $628.5 million in bonds to invest in some of the infrastructure and emergency service improvements necessary to help protect residents in the event of a major earthquake. The measure would cost the owners of homes assessed at $1 million roughly $150 a year, and while SF’s property taxes are high, so are the risks if the city doesn’t do everything it can to invest in earthquake preparedness. 

Californians all know we live with the risk of the “Big One,” and the city’s plan to borrow this money would allow them to make seismic improvements, as well as other needed repairs and improvements to fire department facilities, police stations, and 911 call centers. The measure requires two-thirds support to pass. Given the long-term likelihood of a major earthquake, this is a wise use of the city’s borrowing abilities and worth supporting. 

We strongly recommend a YES vote on Prop B.

Last updated: 2020-02-26

Proposition C

Vote YES on Proposition C, San Francisco Housing Authority Retirement Benefits

In March of 2019, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development shuttered the federally-funded, locally operated San Francisco Housing Authority and ordered that its responsibilities be turned over to the city. This was following years of financial mismanagement, and the city absorbed most of the agency’s functions as well as about 25 members of its staff. Unfortunately, because of wording in the City Charter, these transferred employees lost their retiree medical benefits. This was due to a gap in their employment with the city that occurred through no fault of their own, and this prop would simply alter the charter so that the employees who got hired by the city in the aftermath of the Housing Authority’s disintegration are able to access their well-deserved benefits. It will cost the city about $80,000 overall but over a very long period. 

We strongly recommend a YES vote on Prop C.

Last updated: 2020-02-26

Proposition D

Vote YES on Proposition D, Vacant Property Tax

In recent years, some of the same economic pressures that have made housing so expensive have also been at work in the commercial sector. Smaller businesses have been disappearing from expensive areas, with landlords incentivized to leave commercial properties empty instead of renting them out for less than they’d prefer. The result has been a commercial blight in many areas that not only changes the fabric of the community but also makes it challenging for existing businesses to survive. 

Prop D is a creative attempt at addressing at least one of the causes of this scourge --  landlords who are keeping their commercial spaces vacant in the hopes of attracting higher-paying tenants. It’s the brainchild of progressive San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin, and would charge landlords that leave a commercial property vacant for more than half the year $250 per linear foot. The tax would then double every consecutive year. The measure wouldn’t take effect until 2021 and would only apply to a specific list of around 30 commercial corridors. It wouldn’t apply to non-profit owners and builds in flexibility for spaces damaged by fire or earthquakes, plus it leaves room for city supervisors to alter, freeze, or ultimately sunset the law. 

While it’s true that landlord greed is only one reason for the collapse of the brick-and-mortar economy in much of SF, it’s a major one and one of the few that the city is actually empowered to address. The measure is a worthwhile attempt at reinvigorating SF’s commercial economy and, if it works as intended, gives many other urban communities with similar concerns a way forward. It requires a two-thirds majority to pass. 

We strongly recommend a YES vote on Proposition D.

Last updated: 2020-02-26