by Paul Kozakiewicz
All 10 candidates fighting to become the Richmond District’s next city supervisor attended a candidates’ forum on Sept. 14, looking for a competitive edge and hoping to gain traction in a crowded field. Because current District 1 Supervisor Eric Mar is being termed out of office, the seat is open.
During opening statements, the candidates were asked to list their key priorities, state their vision for the Richmond and to elaborate on transportation, crime and homelessness – in about three minutes.
Marjan Philhour, who runs a political consulting business, was the first to speak. She wants to open a district office to better respond to constituent needs, pledges to run a positive campaign and will work to support small businesses.
“I want to get things done,” she said.
Jonathan Lyens, who is blind and attended the forum with his service dog Benito, said his campaign boiled down to two words: “It matters.” Lyens, who is currently the director of the Richmond District Community Center, said he is the only candidate who has worked at City Hall, as a budget analyst. He also said as a renter he is sympathetic to housing prices because he is “clinging to life in the City,” like many renters.
“I will hit the ground running on day one,” he promised.
Jason Jungreis said the key to better governing the city is “efficiency.” He pointed to his website and said there were 100 specific proposals for improving city services. Jungreis, an attorney, said he will not accept political donations, and that he built his own “green” electric bicycle.
“My motto is lean, clean and green,” Jungreis said.
David Lee, who ran for District 1 supervisor four years ago, said he is concerned about dangerous intersections on Geary without traffic lights, the affordability of apartments in the City and public safety, particularly the recent increase in property crimes. As a professor at SF State University, he said he has seen many students struggling to find a place to live.
“I’ m running for supervisor because I am passionate about this place,” he said.
Brian Larkin, a semi-retired engineer, reminded potential voters that his name is Larkin, spelled like the downtown street. His key projects would entail
having Muni build underground subway service to the Richmond. He also wants to underground public and private utilities in the district.
“There’s got to be a few bucks in the budget for undergrounding utilities,” Larkin said.
Andy Thornley works at the SF Municipal Transportation Agency and is a former program director at the SF Bicycle Coalition. He said he has been evicted from his apartment twice in the last 15 years when the house he was living in was sold.
“Housing matters a helleva lot to me,” Thornley said.
He is “all in for Vision Zero,” the city’s effort to eliminate traffic deaths, would consider a Navigation Center for homeless people in the Richmond, and supports building the Geary Bus Rapid (BRT) transit plan.
Sam Kwong is an immigrant from Hong Kong and a self-employed architect. He supports neighborhood schools and the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) in city high schools, cutting red tape for small businesses and bringing a ship to the City to house the city’s homeless population.
“I want to bring no-nonsense leadership to City Hall. The west side is the forgotten side,” Kwong said.
Sandra Fewer, a member of the SF Board of Education, said she wrote a resolution in support of neighborhood schools. She wants to build more affordable housing in the Richmond, saying the district has not gotten its fair share of what has been built by the City to date.
Fewer said wealth disparity in San Francisco is exacerbating the homeless situation and that if the police continue moving homeless people from downtown, they will have no place to go but west.
Sherman D’ Silva, a graduate of George Washington High School and manager of a local laundromat, hopes the third time running for district supervisor is the charm. He was inspired to run for public office after witnessing a pedestrian get hit by a car.
D’Silva wants more traffic lights on Geary and wants the median on Geary better taken care of by the City.
The last candidate to speak was Richie Greenberg, who wants to use his experience as a business consultant over the past 27 years to help small businesses. He also wants Muni to increase capacity on its transit lines by adding buses to the city’s fleet.
Greenberg criticized Muni’s Geary BRT plan because it will save about three minutes of travel time for a Muni passenger, at a cost of $300 million.
“It’s $100 million a minute,” he said. “It’s grossly irresponsible.”
About 60 people attended the Planning Association for the Richmond (PAR) forum, which was held at the Richmond Recreation Center. The moderator for the event was PAR president Richard Corriea.
The San Francisco general election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 8. The election will be ranked choice, which means every Richmond District voter will be able to vote for their top three candidates.