‘Vote With Your Heart’: My Take on San Francisco’s Assembly District 17 Race
I have a problem — albeit a nice one
As ballots begin to drop for the first of four San Francisco elections this year, I’m already tired. I wanted to let you know where I stand on one of the most important races of the year, and the question on many of your minds: Who should represent San Francisco’s Assembly District 17 (generally known as the “east side” of the city) in the California State Legislature?
Well, I have a problem; it’s not a bad one, mind you. I have two qualified friends running against each other for the same position. Now, I’m not the one doing the interviews or the hiring; I’m just one drag queen without a political action committee or big (read: any) money backing me up. I just care a lot about the future of our city, state, and country and the plight of the people living here.
Both David Campos (Former District 9 Supervisor, Vice-Chair of the California Democratic Party) and Matt Haney (Current District 6 Supervisor) have mounted campaigns to represent California’s 17th State Assembly District (AD-17) in the State Legislature. Both are qualified — in similar ways and unique ways — and to succeed our former representative in the State Assembly, David Chiu, voluntarily stepped away from his position when he was appointed City Attorney by Mayor London Breed.
Now, this is key: the upcoming February 15, 2022 election is only the primary election for the AD-17 seat, and the top two candidates will face off in a special election on April 19, 2022. For me, both David and Matt must secure the top two spots in the February primary. For that reason, I am dually endorsing both of them. But you and I only get to vote for one of them, so I want to give you a bit more information so you can make the decision that’s best for you and your community.
Let’s start with David Campos: a gay man, formerly undocumented Guatemalan immigrant, longtime public servant, and fellow bully daddy.
I’ve known David for many years, dating back to when he first began representing the Mission District and District 9 on the Board of Supervisors over 10 years ago. There’s a lot that I can personally relate to in David. He’s a gay man, he’s Latino, he has an adorable bulldog—named Nacho—and he’s got a flair for personal style. To know him is to know he never wears the same bowtie twice. He’s got a remarkable personal story, crossing the border when he was just 15 years old with his two sisters and mother. His parents worked as a janitor and factory workers, respectively, where he learned the real plight of being working class in California.
What I love most about David is that he is unafraid to take tough positions on behalf of vulnerable communities — like when he fought like hell to preserve the few remaining development sites in the Mission for truly affordable housing. At the height of the last decade’s eviction and displacement crisis, while Latino families were being pushed out in droves and new apartments were being listed for $10k/month on Valencia Street, David advocated to keep the Mission’s Latino cultural heritage and vibrant communities intact.
David didn’t back down, and as a result, his legacy includes hundreds of newly-built 100% affordable housing projects throughout the Mission — where otherwise there would not have been.
David is organizing a grassroots, corporate-free campaign, and when he says he’ll be a “voice for all of us” — in advocating for Medicare for All, for workers’ rights, for criminal justice reform, for rent control and affordable housing across California — I believe him, and you should too.
On the other hand, there’s my friend (and drag daughter!) Matt “Victoria Landslide” Haney.
I got to know Matt when he was running to be the Supervisor of District 6 in 2018. I live just a few blocks outside of District 6 from Matt, who I sometimes see running around the neighborhood, and I’ve seen up close the challenges that Matt has had to tackle over the past 3 years. Matt has held hearings and pushed for compassionate solutions to rampant homelessness, for harm reduction approaches to the opioid addiction crisis (San Francisco’s other pandemic), and to restructure San Francisco’s approach to keeping streets clean. These are BIG tasks, and Matt doesn’t shy away.
Matt has also overseen a lot of SF’s real estate growth in the form of both office and residential developments. It’s a challenging job to straddle the needs of some of San Francisco’s most vulnerable, low-income residents in the Tenderloin and the issues important to thousands of new, affluent residents in SOMA and Mission Bay. Throughout, Matt has fought for the needs of low-income residents, including making sure that no one in public housing is paying more than 30% of their income on rent.
What I love most about Matt as a politician is how accessible he is to his constituents. His Twitter account has been a super reliable source of information throughout the pandemic, and at a time when distrust and cynicism toward government are at an all-time high, Matt has demonstrated an ability to stay positive, provide people with essential information, and pull them into the conversation around San Francisco’s toughest issues.
In or out of high heels, Matt will always be my daughter and I couldn’t be more proud to support him as he continues his journey.
More important than anything is to vote. Vote early. Since the pandemic turned our world upside down, every registered voter now receives a ballot at their home. If you haven’t received yours yet, you should in the next week.
So, what we first need to do in February is get David and Matt into the top two spots. At the end of the day, both of them have what it takes to advance the priorities of San Francisco’s various communities. Please vote with your heart and support either of these fantastic public servants.