In a room scattered with candidate supporters and a handful of students, the five candidates for District 7 Supervisor gathered at SF State to discuss a series of student and community concerns.
“Things got a little spicy tonight,” said first-time politician and candidate Andrew Bley.
Mike Garcia, Norman Yee, Joel Engardio and Nancy Crowley, who spoke on behalf of her husband FX Crowley, were also present and ready to battle for student votes.
District 7 is bordered by Twin Peaks and 19th Avenue, Ocean Avenue and Judah Street, and Parkmerced and Sloat Boulevard.
“If you’re running for District 7, don’t you think you’d show up to a debate held at one of the main attractions of D7,” said 19-year-old political science major Ryan Powers about FX not attending the debate. “I mean, I would understand if his wife died. Oh wait, she was here.”
The problems at City College of San Francisco were one of the hottest topics. Candidates had mixed feelings about supporting Proposition A, which would levy a $79 per year parcel tax on San Francisco homeowners for the next eight years. The tax would go to fixing the administrative problems at City College of San Francisco.
“My husband would probably say that he thinks $79 dollars is nothing for homeowners to pay to save a major part of our district,” Crowley said.
Engardio and Garcia oppose the tax.
“In San Francisco, only 35 percent of people own homes. The rest are renters,” Engardio said. “We shouldn’t rely on homeowners. We should be rallying the whole community, and alumni should be rallying together to save something worth saving.”
Paul Murre, president of the California College Democrats, did not agree with Engardio and Garcia.
“It was scary to me that they didn’t support measure A,” Murre said. “It’s a common sense initiative for students, and the supervisor for District 7 should be supporting City College. It’s one of the biggest community colleges in California.”
The Parkmerced redevelopment plan was among the topics discussed. This plan would build housing around the Parkmerced area and allocate federal funds to build a more efficient Muni M line and shuttles to Daly City BART.
“It’s pretty much a done deal. I think we’re going to provide needed housing, and it will provide jobs,” Garcia said.
Norman Yee, president of the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education, stressed that he would hold the Parkmerced developers to their word.
“Rent control will be enforced, and I will fight for developers to keep their promise to that,” Yee said.
Traffic congestion and pedestrian safety along 19th Avenue was a major topic discussed at the debate. Engardio was late because he got stuck in the West Portal tunnel.
“I am probably the only candidate without a car. My partner and I share one and today was his day, but the reason why we don’t have the same efficiency that New York has is because we brought Muni above ground,” Engardio said. “We need to be tunneling down 19th Avenue and Geary, where people really need to go.”
All candidates agreed that Muni is extremely understaffed, with a lack of drivers and inadequate maintenance help.
Candidates also expressed concerns regarding pedestrian safety on 19th avenue.
“We want to know where the most troublesome spots are and figure out why. This has to be an effort put in, not only by creating safer drivers, but also smarter pedestrians,” Bley said.
Yee talked about his own personal experience with unsafe drivers. In 2007 Yee was hit by a car while he was crossing a crosswalk that was in his favor; he spent more than a month in the hospital.
“There are some practical things we can do, such as build pedestrian bridges so people don’t actually have to cross 19th, or we can extend yellow lights, so those who want to go through can go through,” Yee said.