Letters to the Editor

Letter to the Editor – Running for Mayor

My name is William Nocera, and I have declared my candidacy for mayor of the City and County of San Francisco in the November 5, 2019 Consolidated Municipal Election.  I have done so conscious of the fact that, because of the sad and premature loss of Mayor Ed Lee, we just went to the polls last June to elect our current mayor, London Breed, for the period leading up to the next election on that date.

Whether or not it seems necessary to vote so soon again, the fact is that the law requires Mayor Breed to stand once more for office and thus we find ourselves again exercising our civic duty and responsibility to elect a leader to a full term.  It is in that context that I present myself here for your consideration.

So then the next question you may have is why.  Why run at all?  What can I offer that the incumbent or others running, (and, yes, there are several candidates actually who have filed to run), are not more deserving of your support and vote?

For me, stepping out of my comfort zone to present my case for your consideration was not easy. While I have been a political junkie for most of my life, I have never sought any public office nor participated in any internal political party administration.  I have been a registered Republican since I was 18 and my first vote for president was for the independent candidacy of former Republican congressman John Anderson in 1980.  (If you are Gen X or Millennial, you may want to Google him.)

Perhaps that gives you some hint of my political leanings, for, in that year, the two major political parties had offered up a choice between an incumbent Democrat, who had suffered through an economy with major stagflation and a foreign policy dominated by American hostages held in post-revolutionary, virulently anti-American, Iran and a Republican former governor from California who, in an early precursor of the divisions to come in that party, had wrested control from a traditional moderate conservatism centered in the financial capital of New York.

More substantively, I was born and raised 30 miles from New York, just up the Hudson River near The U.S. military academy at West Point.  Our governor was Nelson Rockefeller and our Senator, Jacob Javits. The Mayor of New York was John Lindsay. Other establishment Republicans from that era were names like Margaret Chase Smith, Edward Brooke, Paul Sarbanes, and yes even Preston Bush, a surname that would represent Republicanism for 30 plus years.

It was this kind of moderate, fiscally conservative, socially liberal, kind of Republicans who populated the public landscape during my formative political years.  Rest assured, I am not discounting the early strength of other strains of Republicanism like the small government , libertarianism of Barry Goldwater or the outright white racism of former southern Democrats like Strom Thurmond or Jesse Helms who defected to the party in the turbulent late 60’s and early 70’s.  Once again, these were early signs of the realignment of the party we see fully realized in the cynical, nativist, nationalist and fully branded Trumpism today.

So now that you have some insight into my political instincts and leanings, there are two important ways in which this plays into my efforts here today and my foray into electoral politics here in liberal San Francisco and this mayoral election in particular.

First, I believe there is and must be room in the political spectrum for two broad-based views of governance for which the two parties, Democratic and Republican, have essentially advocated since their inception.

Generally and simplistically speaking, and I mean both, one stands for a more activist and collectivist government with well-intentioned but highly bureaucratic departments providing public services and regulating economic activity while the other has championed smaller government, less economic regulation and personal responsibility which while similarly well intentioned risks cracks in a social safety net for those without the advantages of wealth and education.

Both have seen their application in radical or excessive manner result in problems like high taxation, stymied entrepreneurship, nanny state dictates and high public debt or conversely, financial and industrial shortsightedness with corporate greed or polluted air and water, income inequality, discrimination for marginal groups, and, lo and behold, high public debt.

But excesses aside, when correctly and honestly applied, these two competing approaches to governance offer voters a clear choice in the way we organize the public sector to promote the common welfare and define its relationship to individual rights and economic activity.  That’s a worthwhile and healthy debate to hold in every time and circumstance including right here in San Francisco and this election for mayor.

Secondly, that choice does not have to be presented to the electorate as an all-or-nothing, highly partisan, take-no-prisoners vote that demonizes opponents and disparages their patriotism or sense of commitment to the common good.

Respectful and honest civil discourse must be the foundation upon which we conduct ourselves in this competition not only because it reflects our trust in the basic decency of voters but also because it underscores an appropriate level of humility by politicians seeking roles in public service from mayor to president. Unfortunately, from the White House down, that has not been the case, and my candidacy is first and foremost a re-commitment to that kind of behavior in this campaign and a message to Americans more broadly that here in San Francisco we respect healthy two party debate and reject the highly toxic and cynical politics that President Trump and others have trumpeted in recent years.

Now, ultimately, I am not unrealistic about my chances of being elected Mayor in November, but I also have faith in you the reader, and hopefully a voter this fall, to at least consider my candidacy an honest and forthright effort to present these values in the public domain and, along with serious policy positions outlined on my website, www.uscenterparty.com  provides you the opportunity to send a message across the city and maybe beyond that healthy political competition and serious but decent civil debate can win the day.

I thank you for your attention and consideration in this regard and welcome your support in the campaign ahead.  While I hope I can win your vote, I also ask that you consider all the candidates from the incumbent to the half a dozen or so others that have declared their intention as well. Visit the website of the Department of Elections for the city and county of San Francisco to learn about them all and, most important, learn their platforms and then exercise your franchise this November 5th. That alone will be a message itself.

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