Using Our Vote for a Better Future

 Glendon “Anna Conda” Hyde at the Milk Club's District 7 Supervisor debate this fall

By Glendon “Anna Conda” Hyde

The election is over and we have piles of mail as a reminder of the cost. After all, we did just witness insane spending by people who “care” deeply about us. Every year my inner environmentalist goes out of her mind. No wonder we beat F into the ground and blame it for the deaths of baby seals. I love radical environmental ideas, but with the American public still sucking up plastics and gas, we are just a tad selfish to hear the message. Prop 35, which criminalizes associates of sex workers more than actually doing anything to protect legitimate workers and catch bad guys, was passed into legislation. This just shows that propositions are often a really bad way to have these conversations. People do not take the time to educate themselves and rhetoric can be very deceiving. 

As President of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, a chartered Democratic organization, I am exposed to all the players and playing of politics on a local level. Endorsements are a place where true colors are shown and players truly exert influence and manipulation. For the past two years, I have seen endorsement processes willfully manipulated by straight men to control an outcome in their favor. Even with the implementation of a new system of voting called score voting, which ranks each candidate and prevents stacking the club with voters to get the endorsement, we still had behind the scenes Tom foolery. Most candidates are people with integrity and we are lucky that many of them won.

Nationally I knew what would happen all along. I mean come on. I was so certain when I went to bed early Romney was ahead and I was still sure he would not win. I am amazed that all the states did not go for Obama, but that fear slinging does have an effect. It is great to have new lesbian Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin. First ever. We re-elected local heroes Ammiano, Leno, Spier and Kaplan, as well as electing Phil Ting to Assembly. My focus this year as President of the Milk Club and as a not-so-secret socialist (I voted Green for President), was local elections, and there was plenty to concentrate on. 

Three men whom I support locally (David Chiu, David Campos and John Avalos) were basically no brainer races and/or running unopposed. 

I did do some Avalos and Campos parties this year, but it was hardly the focus in San Francisco politics. Congratulations to David Campos who won by the most votes of anyone running for Supervisor. 

District 1 was the good versus evil race of the year. Downtown David Lee ran against incumbent Eric Mar. Lee had all the money in the world and he threw it around. He also threw around character assassinations of Mar and his family, accepted money from realtors (who then ran a child-mob, anti-gay smear piece) to try and get developers into the Richmond and rent control out of San Francisco. It was money well spent because Mar easily took control of the situation and handily kicked Lee’s butt! The Alice club endorsed Lee and I was pretty shocked. I mean, of all races, it was evident in District 1 who was playing honest politics and who was a puppet candidate. It was weird to see and hear venom hurled at a very even and thoughtful man. Divisive politics similar to what we saw on a national level. Thankfully they did not work in either case.

District 5 was the race that absorbed most of my time. Julian Davis was our endorsement in September and then, in October, several people chimed in on the nature of his character and inappropriate behavior. He lost endorsements from all corners. Julian was very aggressive when it came to getting his endorsements and really worked to secure them. I mean he REALLY wanted to win. The accusations saw the Milk Club try and rescind the endorsement of Julian unsuccessfully with 42 no, 54 yes, and 2 abstaining votes. Julian had some help from the paring of John Rizzo and eventual winner London Breed, who joined forces to block our rescinding the endorsement. Now we have an elected supervisor who also took money from the realtors that slandered Mar. Although London has some great qualities and believes in harm reduction, I would rather have seen Olague return or had Thea Selby as victor. My buddy Tom Temprano likes Breed, especially after she dropped the F bomb a hundred times in a Guardian interview after our debate. I trust Tom and think she will make a fine Supervisor and will listen to her constituents. 

District 7 is not declared officially but it looks like Yee will get the popular vote and FX Crowley the ranked choice boost. We at Milk really hoped Yee would be the victor and still do. There are certainly worse choices than either and Crowley had the support of Labor and that’s always good for a campaign. Crowley does not support legalizing sex work and I doubt he will jump at the chance to create Safe Use Sites in the city, but again, there were worse choices for sure in 7.

As a state and a city, we did a great job with most propositions. We passed a new tax with Prop A and I hope we can pass more taxes that produce monies needed by citizens. We also chose to have elections every 2 years, progressively tax with gross receipts, and poured yet more money into a bloated parks budget. All in all it was a good election.

The worst part was the fact that the life and times of Ross Mirkarimi tainted the vision of everything. I am a supporter of Ross and we at Milk supported his reinstatement. It was not a moral fight at the Board of Supervisors, but a legal one. The part that really stings is people like Supervisors Avalos, Olague, Campos and Kim, no matter what good deeds they do, will have some that can never forgive their vote. Avalos is the generator of local hire initiatives. Campos is making sure kids get free MUNI and all of us get health care. Kim saved us from over zealous Federal Investigators and Olague helped save the Eagle. They will all have to fight to be remembered for these amazing accomplished deeds because of a case that should never have been exploited for political gains.

We must remember to look at the overall candidate and not bury our heads in one issue. I have a friend who will not vote for Campos because of some argument about bike lanes. Then there are people who didn’t want to help Mar because of his Beach Chalet vote. It is narrow thinking like this that damages city politics, and we must learn to view the whole picture, not segments. This in-house fighting has prevented us from getting our message into the world. I encourage all of us— left, right and center—to take the community’s best interest to heart and to work for creative and better solutions. Remember, even if you don’t like an idea or business or type of person, they are still your community and not something outside that community.

We should be especially aware with the gay vote. Remember how voting was used against us? Those memories should serve to encourage us to use our vote for a better future for all environs of San Francisco. Maybe then we can have some f^$#ing benches in Harvey Milk Plaza and a few nudies for local color instead of demanding retribution and punishment.

Glendon “Anna Conda” Hyde is President of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club.

[Originally published the SF Bay Times, November 15, 2012:]

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