A few days ago, while campaigning, a supporter of my opponent yelled at me and called me a name I can’t write here. A friend who was with me turned to me and said “why the heck do you put up with this? Why do you do this?” He also referenced the toxicity and personal attacks that tend to come at me on social media from some of my opponent’s supporters (though the overwhelming majority of my opponent’s supporters engage in politics respectfully).
I do it because I care like hell about this community and this city. If you can’t take the barbs — toxic and false as they may be at times— elected life isn’t for you. That’s why I left private life to run for the Board of Supervisors, and it’s why I’m running for the State Senate.
I’ve learned in politics that the easiest way not to be criticized is not to do anything. I didn’t run for office to win popularity contests or to be adored. I ran for office to get things done for our community. To do the work. To make the hard choices. To be willing to have people mad at me and, at times, to say some pretty awful things.
We have enormous work to do for our city — to create more housing and stop the evictions, to dramatically improve our transit systems, to get people out of the tents into housing, to rebuild our mental health safety net, to ensure all children, not just rich ones, receive great public education, to break down the continuing barriers to healthcare, to address the continuing needs of LGBT people, and to meaningfully address two existential threats — climate change and the drought.
I’ve done that work in City Hall — I don’t just pontificate about it or grandstand about it — and I’ll do the work in the State Senate.
I’m proud of the work we’ve done together. I’m proud to have partnered with amazing advocates to pass the most expansive paid parental leave law in the country. I’m proud to have helped build a pro-transit coalition that stopped the pilfering of transit funds and actually started to increase those funds to make needed investments. I’m proud to have worked with environmentalists to pass groundbreaking legislation requiring water recycling and solar in new developments. I’m proud to have worked with leaders in my own LGBT community to reduce HIV infections, expand access to PrEP, create more housing for homeless LGBT youth, and protect our LGBT seniors living in long-term care facilities. I’m proud that, working together, we found a way to create new rent-controlled apartments, to streamline the approval process for affordable housing, to expand rent control to people living with HIV, and to crack down on slumlords. And, I’m proud to have partnered with the community to widen the Castro Street sidewalks, create the Noe Valley Town Square, and renovate Dolores Park.
But it’s not just about the grandiose stuff. Perhaps the most fulfilling aspect for me of this work is helping real people facing real challenges — work that gets no headlines. Helping the single mom stay in her rent-controlled apartment. Helping the gay-bashing victim access services. Helping the HIV-positive working class gay man get his life-saving meds after his insurance company dramatically raised his co-pays. Helping a sober space stay open so that people can recover from addiction and be healthy.
None of this work was easy. It all took perseverance, coalition-building, and a commitment to take our city to a better place — exactly the skills and vision needed to represent us effectively in the State Senate.
Politics is hard. People are passionate in their views, and some people, from time to time, can get over the top with their passion. But that’s what makes our city so great — because people care like hell.
And, for every barb, there are the amazing people who make this city what it is. The people who work so hard for their community. It’s been a deep honor to work with so many brilliant and inspired members of the community.
I love this city and its people, even the ones who don’t always love me so much. I’ll continue to fight like a dog for our city’s residents, for my community.
Here’s to a great election and a bright future for all of us.