By Vallie Brown, Candidate for SF Bord of Supervisors, District 5
But truth be told, I never thought I’d be in elected office.
Born and raised in Utah, my father, a Native American tribal member, passed away when I was one. My mother struggled to make ends meet: She worked odd jobs and we moved often – even living in a van at one point because we couldn’t make rent.
Growing up, we never had health insurance. If I got hurt and needed stitches, I saw the veterinarian because it was cheaper. Sadly, my mom passed away at 40 due to complications from diabetes left undiagnosed and untreated. I was just 14 and my community stepped up to raise me and keep me out of the foster care system.
I moved to San Francisco in 1985 as an artist. I’ve been here for the ups and downs, the booms and busts, and watched our neighborhoods change, sometimes for the good, sometimes for the not-so-good.
While teaching art at Hunters Point, I saw the devastating effects of pollution on the community, so I rallied with local parents to close the power plant and bring awareness to the toxic shipyards. When the community came together, we achieved real change. I’ve been fighting for the community ever since.
Over the next decade, we worked to stop violence in the Western Addition, prevented John Muir Elementary School from closing in the Lower Haight, and started new community groups to advocate for our neighborhoods.
This relentless chain-rattling brought me to City Hall, working for two different District 5 supervisors. I helped craft groundbreaking legislation, like the nation’s first plastic bag ban, our renewable energy provider CleanPowerSF and the neighborhood preference policy, which prioritizes residents for affordable housing in their own neighborhoods.
We set off a spate of quality-of-life improvements: bringing the first parklets and neighborhood farmers’ markets – including right here in the Inner Sunset – to the City, new protected bike lanes and new Muni cars to the N-Judah.
But that activist’s mentality never left, it still drives me as your Supervisor: You can’t take no for an answer and you must work with everyone, even those you disagree with, to actually get things done.
In my 14 months in office, I’ve written and passed 30 pieces of legislation unanimously by working tirelessly with my colleagues to find creative, progressive solutions to the serious challenges San Francisco, and specifically District 5, face.
On affordable housing, I identified sites for 100 percent affordable developments, raised the affordable housing requirement in new private developments and added $40 million to the budget to buy existing buildings where tenants face Ellis Act evictions. Additionally, I funded a “housing ombudsman” to mediate disputes between tenants and landlords (before eviction notices are sent!), and I introduced new housing subsidies for unforeseen circumstances like the sudden loss of a roommate or job.
On homelessness, I worked to create the first navigation center for people living in their cars – the fastest-growing segment of our homeless population – and an experience I know all too well from my own life. I also funded and worked to open the first “resting place” in a D5 church, so our homeless neighbors can rest off the street and receive food, health care and connect with social workers.
On Muni, I uncovered a root cause of delays and helped end the operator shortage, bringing more trains and buses in service. I also worked to add Prop. D to the ballot, a tax on rideshares that will add millions in funding to Muni and reduce traffic congestion.
I ask for your vote not as a politician, but as your neighbor for the past 30 years working to better our community for all. We’ve achieved real results together, but there’s so much more to do. We’re just getting started.
For more information, visit www.votevallie.com.