Submitted by John Rizzo, Candidate for District 5 Supervisor
Contact: Tim Robertson, firstname.lastname@example.org, 987-4870
1) Describe in your own words what is the purpose of a Supervisor representing a District in San Francisco? (2000 characters including spaces)
The purpose of a San Francisco Supervisor is to proactively seek out the problems facing communities and to work with constituents to solve them. This requires three things: being an active member of the community, being an effective policymaker, and acting as a watchdog. As an elected official serving as President of the Community College Board, I have the experience and record that demonstrates that I have been all three.
As a community member, I will not hide from my constituents in City Hall, but will continue to be active in the community. No one knows the needs of District 5 better than its residents and small business owners, and only through speaking with them regularly can a Supervisor enact solutions that move the community in the right direction. As an elected official, I have found that constituents often have some of the best ideas on how to fix problems. As a member of the Community College Board, I spend far more time out in the community than at Board meetings.
As a policymaker, a Supervisor must be able translate the needs and concerns of the District into policy solutions that work. A supervisor can’t just propose solutions, but must be able to fight for them and gather the votes to pass them. On the City College Board, I have worked with both progressive and conservative members to pass initiatives that I am proud of. For instance, a “student equity initiative” has helped disadvantaged students succeed, raised grades, and lowered the dropout rate. I’ve created new green jobs training programs for disadvantaged youth and pushed for greener building standards. My Local Hiring initiative has created hundreds of construction jobs for San Francisco residents. These all follow the values of District 5, and I look forward to continue pressing for them on the Board of Supervisors.
As a watchdog, a Supervisor must ensure that the city is behaving equitably and in a just manner. There are a powerful interests in San Francisco that often have undue influence on how the city is run. The District 5 Supervisor must hold down its community values on the Board and fight to ensure that powerful interests are not given power that the community should have. While in elected office I have the experience in standing up to corrupt interests who were diverting public resources away from vital programs. I’ve proven that I can hold the line and fight corruption at City College, and now I intend to do so for all of San Francisco.
2) What do you believe are the three most pressing problems/challenges in the Lower Fillmore and what is your strategy to address and resolve them? (4000 characters including spaces)
I believe that economic development and employment opportunities, access to quality education, and housing are among the most important challenges for the Lower Fillmore.
1. Economic development, jobs, and business opportunities. We must start by helping small business become more sustainable. While corporations often bring in workers from outside of the city, small business is vital to full employment in San Francisco. I plan to streamline the permitting process, lower permit fees, and create one-stop centers where businesses can get everything they need to move forward.
I also believe the city must stimulate the local economy. For instance, I helped pass the GoSolarSF program, which has helped struggling small energy companies, created hundreds of jobs, and got solar power for low-income families. The program also incentivized the hiring of disadvantaged residents. However, the city has drastically cut back funding for this program, which granting large tax breaks to corporations. I would fight to refund GoSolarSF, and use it as a model for other stimulus programs.
Such economic stimulus can be paid for by streamlining the management of city government. At City College, I helped balance $200 million operating budgets and a $750 million construction budget by instituting dozens of new oversight and fiscal reforms. As a result, the College District had more funding for social services and facilities. I am the only candidate that can bring this type of governmental fiscal accountability in order to pay for things we need.
It is disappointing to see the city give tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks to corporations without asking them to play a role in training and hiring our residents. I will work to change that.
On the City College Board, I authored and passed a “hire local” resolution that ensured CCSF construction projects would give jobs to San Franciscans, particularly to residents of low-income neighborhoods. San Francisco then followed and passed similar legislation, which I supported. As Supervisor, I will expand local hiring beyond construction to other areas that the city is involved with. Encouraging job growth for San Franciscans will grow the local economy and provide more tax revenue to the city to provide vital services.
2. Access to quality education. As President of the City College Board of Trustees, I have seen first-hand how access to education can change lives, and in some cases, literally save lives.
The city government does not do a good enough job at education and training. The city’s workforce development agency focuses on low-paying jobs. We must aim higher.
At City College, I worked to expand the Second Chance program, which gets formerly incarcerated individuals not just minimum wage jobs, college degrees. For example, last year, the valedictorian the City College graduation was a drug addict for two decades, in and out of jail. Today, he is studying at UC Berkeley. Many Second Chance graduates go on to masters degrees.
I have also supported shorter educational programs that train disadvantaged people for high paying careers, including the 2-year medical technician and nursing programs at the John Adams Campus.
As supervisor, I will work to get the city to do a better job of community outreach to residents and help students move towards a rewarding and gainful career. I will work to have the city collaborate better with the school district. Studies have shown that third-grade attendance can be used as an accurate predictor of one’s future situation.
Whether creating new programs or improving old ones, modernizing infrastructure and ensuring student access to technology, I fought through the bureaucracy to make sure that our students were best prepared for the next phase of their lives. While the City College is just one piece of the education picture, my experience in turning around City College is the kind of experience Supervisors should have.
The city government is not doing enough to ensure that education is both exceptional and equitable from Day One. I’m the only candidate that has the experience working with educators, students, administrators, and politicians to make the meaningful improvements our schools need to narrow the achievement gap.
Affordable housing is critical to retaining the character of District 5 and San Francisco. I am committee to protecting existing affordable housing, and to finding ways to create new affordable housing. Additionally, public housing needs much attention, to fix the mismanagement and apply desperately needed maintenance.
3) What have you done to improve the condition of people who were negatively impacted by The Redevelopment Agency? (2000 characters including spaces)
When I first visited District 5 in the late 1970’s, it made a lasting impression on me to see that block after square block of the historic Fillmore had been razed to the ground, its residents displaced. What the community got in trade has been inadequate. The Fillmore Center and the Community Benefits District have not done nearly enough for the community.
Once thing I have done is to beef up District 5’s main secondary educational, workforce training, and GED testing center. This is City College’s John Adams Campus at Masonic and Hayes, which brings 5000 students through its doors every month. At a time when the District was focusing on new buildings in the Mission and Chinatown, I successfully fought for funding for modernizing John Adams with a new library, new computer equipment, and modernized “smart” classrooms. John Adams is San Francisco’s only GED testing center, and I voted against raising GED testing fees. I am also currently working to relocate Huckleberry House, a non-profit facility for troubled youth, in the John Adams facility, in order to expose these youth to the medical technician training programs housed at John Adams.
On the jobs front, one aspect of my Local Hiring Initiative at City College has an emphasis on serving low-income zip codes throughout the city, including District 5.
As an environmental activist, I have been committed to environmental justice. I lead an effort to defeat a proposal to build new power plants in the southeast sections of the city. I have also fought for funding for District 5’s parks and recreation facilities, and fought against the city’s drive to impose new park fees that price low-income people out of our parks. I’ve also fought the commercialization of parks that keep the public locked out. I have been an advocate for muni lines that don’t go downtown – the so-called cross-town lines, like the 22 Fillmore and the 24 Divisadero routes, which don’t get the attention or funding they require to serve residents.
4) Do you believe the Gang Injunction helped the community, if yes how? (2000 characters including spaces)
Gang Injunctions have not proven to be effective in assuring public safety, and they create conditions that are actually detrimental to public safety. They split family members apart by preventing them from visiting one another. They separate people from the resources of their own community. And they unfairly target people by race, as well as young people, without due process. Gang Injunctions violate people’s right to due process and the freedom to peaceably assemble, as in the so-called “Safety Zones.”
The fact that many of the injunction’s targets are not gang members, or are rehabilitated members of our society only adds to the problematic nature of gang injunctions.
The City Attorney’s figures on the effectiveness of the gang injunctions are misleading at best. They focus on number of crimes committed by individuals named in the injunction at one period in time, not on the overall crime. The tragic murder of a 20-year-old Fillmore resident in April shows that public safety is still a problem. And in last year’s multiple gang shootings in the Mission District injunction zone, only 1 in 4 involved were on the gang injunction list.
I believe that the path to safer streets is multi-faceted. First is community policing with foot patrols; we must get police officers out of their cars. Next, we must use police officers with cultural competency who can recognize the difference between cultural norms and actual criminal behavior, and who can relate to residents on a personal level. The city also needs to work with early childhood education, because falling behind at an early age propagates disadvantage throughout one’s life. Also key is educational outreach to youth, to offer opportunities to people who are unaware of what exists.
It’s clear that the Western Addition gang injunctions are less about policing gangs than they are about making the area more appealing to outside business interests.
5) What community work have you done that you are most proud of? (2000 characters)
As President of the Community College of San Francisco, I have brought more money from the city to help pay for programs and infrastructure, with particular emphasis on disadvantaged students. We know that not every student is ready for a four-year college out of high school, and it has been my honor to lead CCSF in helping prepare young people for meaningful roles in society.
I tirelessly fought corruption at CCSF, taking on a system full of graft and restoring the credibility of the institution. By restoring the financial accountability of the CCSF system, I was able to free desperately needed resources to help students meet their goals. In this economy, there just isn’t enough money to be wasting it lining the pockets of bureaucrats.
While turning around CCSF was very important, it only scratches the surface as to what I want to do for San Francisco and District 5. I’ve proven that I can create jobs, improve the education system, and fight corruption at CCSF, and now I’m ready to do the same at City Hall.
I am proud of building up District 5’s John Adams campus, and keeping GED testing fees among the lowest in the state. I also created and sponsored a “local hire” resolution passed by the CCSF Board to ensure that as many CCSF projects as possible created local jobs.
I am proud of leading the effort to defeat 4 proposed fossil-fuel power plants in the southeast part of the city, which the SF PUC had approved. I also spent a lot of effort fighting for the closure of the Mirant power plant in the southeast, which was one of most polluting plant in California.
I am proud of the role I played in the Fix Masonic movement, which got the MTA to produce a design for a safer street for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers. As supervisor, I will see transportation funding to implement this project.
Before becoming elected to the College Board, I was appointed to the Golden Gate Park Concourse Authority by Mayor Brown. There, I worked with community advocates to getting bicycle and pedestrian improvements into the park.