letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor: District Elections Normal in CA Cities


RE: District Elections are the norm for large California cities

In his latest penned annunciation, Mr. Quentin Kopp makes some allegation that district elections for San Francisco city supervisors are equivalent to “dirty” ward politics that is beneath the grandeur of the city of San Francisco. I’m paraphrasing.

Keep in mind however that San Francisco is unique because it is the only city in the United States that is both a county government as well as a city government. Kind of like Washington DC.  Electing officials for city government elsewhere is separate from electing county officials for government. So you have to view San Francisco in the same context as you do county elections in other places of the United States.

Generally across the United States, electing city officials occurs on a district basis because city denizens want to feel that the officials they elect represent their interests and live in the districts they represent. Mr. Kopp makes the allegation that this fact is somehow a bad thing. Yet he gives no example anywhere in the United States or even California where not having district elections for city supervisors has been a benefit. Honestly that is an open question, but making a blanket unsupported statement without providing sufficient examples of benefit is just word salad.

Out of curiosity, I did a google in California for county and city supervisors, and I could not find other large cities in California that do not do district elections for county supervisors. In addition to San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose, and Los Angeles all have district elections. 

The last time we had city-wide elections, the citizens of San Francisco had to fight against all kinds of developers’ fever dreams, like building freeways all over the place and bulldozing viable neighborhoods for … reasons. 

One obvious fact: it’s easier for large swaths of special interest money to have influence on city-wide elections. Which is why it is very sad that Mr. Kopp apparently has completely forgotten his parochial roots and understanding about the importance of keeping San Francisco’s neighborhoods vibrant.

Gino Napoli

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