Music and politics come together at mayoral forum at the Fillmore

Drink-clutching music fans gathered like any other night at the historic Fillmore venue – attentive to the stage. But Monday, they were watching Ed Lee, John Avalos and other mayoral candidates.

Eight of the potential mayors of San Francisco gave their opinions on the future of music, art and nightlife in the city. Most of the conversation during the three hours revolved around ways to expand the local music scene and how to make the city a place where artists can live and thrive.

The night opened with a performance from avant-garde composer Zoe Keating, followed by short speech from local rapper Lyrics Born. Host and CBS journalist Priya David Clemens then introduced the candidates as they walked out to their self-chosen theme songs for the night. Historic images of Carlos Santana, the Grateful Dead and other legends of the city’s music scene flashed behind them as they crossed the stage.

Questioning began as snippets of paper were chosen from a metallic green drum. First candidates fired them at each other, then a group of leaders from local music communities and companies threw some onstage.

The following provides a few notes about the candidates who attended and their positions on the arts:

Jeff Adachi: Founded the Asian American Arts Foundation. Wants to monitor arts funding for schools, and connect venues and musicians with schools to provide further education. Played bass and guitar in bands during his 20s and 30s.

John Avalos: Wants to implement a Neighborhood Arts Programs. Wants to give more funding to the Arts Commission through hotel tax. Believes in arts-based diversionary programs for troubled youth.

David Chiu: Recently handled negotiations with Live Nation and Another Planet Entertainment to bring larger acts to the Masonic and Bill Graham auditoriums. Wants to deregulate small business hurdles to help venues. Plays electric violin, piano and cello.

Bevan Dufty: Specifically wants to work on spreading art events and foot traffic to affected neighborhoods like the Bayview and Chinatown. Has worked with LGBT bars like The Edge to keep them open. Said he witnessed oppression of jazz musicians and Billie Holiday was his godmother.

Tony Hall: Wants to deregulate venues by changing the focus of the Entertainment Commission. Believes in increased outdoor nightlife along with more police foot patrols. Has been a performing singer in the city for over 40 years.

Dennis Herrera: Proposes a car-free “creative corridor” from Van Ness Avenue to the Embarcadero on Market Street, part of a larger “entertainment zone.” Wants to hire someone to act as contact between the mayor’s office, entertainment commission and police departments.

Ed Lee: Wants to continue city support for the Central Market Partnership, which helps revitalize the area through art. Would like to use the America’s Cup yacht race to bring international attention to local artists.

Joanna Rees: Suggests modeling Mid-Market after the Austin Art and Music Partnership, which rents vacant space to artists in exchange for services like free music classes for public school students. Supports keeping bars open later, using Europe as an example.

Leland Yee: Supports the creation of community centers that are music focused, as well as streamlining the permit process for events. Believes the city should consider a “meathead ordinance” similar to Seattle’s, which doles out tickets for rowdy behavior after hours.

After the questioning wrapped up, Bob Mould, San Francisco resident and former member of hardcore-band Hüsker Dü, hit the stage with an electric guitar. All the candidates, except Tony Hall, quickly packed up and left to another forum.

At the end of the night, Mould, in true punk rock fashion, left the Fillmore with his final words.

“Thanks to all candidates for coming out,” he said before breaking into his final song. “And giving their opinions on our lifeblood.”

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