Rafael Mandelman’s Politics on Key Issues Are the Opposite of Mine & He Should Stop Suggesting Otherwise

Monday night was the first District 8 Supervisor debate. The district is currently represented by Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who succeeded me when I was elected to the Senate. Rafael Mandelman is challenging Sheehy’s reelection. The election is next June. In full disclosure, I’m strongly supporting Supervisor Sheehy’s reelection.

In his campaign, Rafael Mandelman, who ran against me for Supervisor in 2010, has been trying to tie himself to me and imply to my supporters that he will somehow govern like I did. In the debate, Rafael repeatedly said the district needed a Supervisor like me. That was surprising to me, since Rafael didn’t endorse my reelection to the Board of Supervisors when I had only token opposition, and he endorsed my opponent (Jane Kim) for State Senate. Rafael has never supported me.

Of course, Rafael has every right not to support me, but he really shouldn’t be talking about how he’s going to be like me or imply to my supporters in the district that his politics and approach are anything like mine — they aren’t. In fact, Rafael’s politics and approach on key issues — housing and homelessness, in particular — are the opposite of mine. Rafael has every right in the world to disagree with me on any given issue. He just shouldn’t be implying that “if you like Scott Wiener, vote for me.” That’s not the case.

This isn’t at all personal. I’ve known Rafael for 15 years and I have a good personal relationship with him. But, I’ve also been in politics with him for 15 years and have seen his votes and positions over that time period. I know his politics well. Rafael’s politics and priorities on critical issues are not mine. Not even close. And Rafael’s politics do not fit District 8, which is why I support Jeff Sheehy. Jeff and I certainly don’t agree on everything — Jeff is his own person — but Jeff’s politics and my politics are similar in many ways.

On the issues:

Housing: I have never seen Rafael advocate for good housing policy. Instead, he’s pretty consistently opposed new housing (thousands of new housing units), opposed efforts to streamline housing approvals, and taken the position that if neighbors don’t want new housing in their neighborhood then we should be hesitant to put new housing there (otherwise known as NIMBYism). Rafael supported the Mission Housing Moratorium — an actual moratorium on new housing — and didn’t support my housing streamlining efforts in Sacramento this year. In fact, he said in the debate that he supports my housing streamlining bill for other cities but not for San Francisco (also known as not in my backyard — just put the housing elsewhere). Rafael’s housing politics are the same old backward-looking politics that got us into this mess — not understanding that we have a dramatic housing shortage and that we are threatening our community’s future by allowing this crisis to fester.

Homelessness: Rafael’s approach to homelessness is also very different from mine. Indeed, Rafael is closely aligned with the Coalition on Homelessness, which has opposed every single effort to reduce the number of tent encampments in San Francisco and has essentially taken the position that we need to just leave the tent encampments be. Having observed Rafael’s votes and positions for 15 years, I am highly confident that he will never deviate from the Coalition’s extreme ideological approach. I was floored to hear that, in the debate, Rafael failed to commit to supporting a navigation center in District 8 for homeless people. (Navigation centers are spaces where entire encampments are brought off the streets, temporarily housed, and then “navigated” into housing and other services — a highly effective way to reduce encampments.) In combination with Rafael’s consistent opposition to city efforts to remove encampments, including tent encampments, it’s unclear to me how he intends to address our serious homeless problem if he won’t even commit to supporting a navigation center in the district. If you say you want to take action to remove the encampments yet don’t want to create the homeless services necessary to do so, then you’re not really serious about removing the encampments.

Public transportation: Rafael said that the Board of Supervisors needs “another Scott Wiener on public transportation.” While I’m flattered and while the Board always needs leaders on transit, the problem here is that, as far as I can tell, Rafael has been absent from public transportation discussions.

Again, this isn’t at all personal. It’s about policy and the future of our district and San Francisco. Rafael shouldn’t imply that his approach or politics are anything like mine, since they aren’t. I have no issue with a candidate campaigning hard, but it’s important to keep one’s campaign message tied to reality.

Written by

CA State Senator. Urbanist. Environmentalist. Advocate for transit, housing, clean energy, criminal justice reform, health, ending poverty. Democrat. 🏳️‍🌈

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