It’s hard enough keeping up with one’s day to day nonsense in the great city of San Francisco, so when it comes time to cast your vote, outside of the inane commercials produced for high-profile candidates, it can be hard to find out anything about anyone else.
By no means hard-hitting interviews, I thought I’d ask various candidates 20 questions to give you an idea of what makes them tick, or if they tick at all. Now you’ll have one less excuse for being a moron and not voting.
Name: Michael Nava
Profession: Attorney; author; advocate
Office: Judge of the Superior Court, Seat No. 15 (June 8 Election)
Hometown: Stockton, California
I caught up with Mr. Nava at his office after just returning from a GLBT conference in New Orleans.
So, question number one…
Stephen Torres: Do you live in the city? (Superior Court Judges don’t have residency requirements.)
Michael Nava: Just outside San Francisco, in Daly City. It’s where we could afford a house.
ST: Where is your favourite neighbourhood hangout in the city?
MN: Gosh, it’s sort of hard to answer. My favourite neighbourhood in the city is the Castro, that’s where my partner and I lived before we bought a house and where we spend most of our time. But I also love- there’s a gallery on Hayes Street called Polanco. Well actually that’s probably my favourite spot. I know the guys that own it. I’m of Mexican descent and I love going in there. It’s kinda like spiritual renewal to me.
ST: Why are you running?
MN: Well, first because I’m qualified, but also because, of the 51 judges on the Superior Court only two of them are latino and there’s also never been an openly gay judge of colour on the superior court. I feel that judges should reflect the diversity of the community.
ST: What’s the biggest issue in the city to you?
MN: Well, I think the biggest issue is that middle class and working class people are finding it in increasingly difficult to live here because its so damn expensive. I went to law school at Stanford like thirty years ago and back then San Francisco was still expensive but real people could actually afford to live hereâ€¦the people who gave the city its Bohemian flavour can’t afford to live here now.
ST: What the hell should be done about Muni/BART?
MN: (laughs) Well, on a personal level I try to take public transportation, but honestly I don’t know.
ST: It is a tough one. You just answered this one: foot, bike, PT, or car?
MN: Public transportation as much as possible.
ST: What’s your favourite cheap restaurant in the city?
MN: Probably Zapata‘s on Eighteenth.
ST: What’s your favourite cheap bar?
MN: Um, (laughs) I don’t drink.
ST: Hmm, so the next question is What’s your poison?
MN: That would be anything at Sweet Inspiration.
ST: Legalize pot?
MN: Um, can’t comment on it.
ST: Legalize prostitution?
MN: (laughs) Can’t comment on that either.
ST: What’s the best/ worst part about living in SF?
MN: The best part about living in SF is it’s on a human scale. The worst part- it’s just becoming so homogeneous, because it’s so expensive.
ST: You kind of jumped to this one in the beginning - How long before only rich people can live here?
MN: Boy, at this paceâ€¦unless something is done ..another decade. Then they’ll have to have museums for working class and poor people.
ST: Is the situation with the homeless in the city going to get better or worse?
MN: You know, given the economic problems state and local governments have at the moment, I can’t imagine it’s going to get any better.
ST: Is our state/ country doomed?
MN: (laughs) Well, I guess if I thought it was doomed I wouldn’t be running for office.
ST: Mexico: important ally or scary neighbour?
MN: You know you’re talking to the grandson of Mexican immigrants. Totally important ally and you know- part of the beating heart of California is Mexican.
ST: Totally. President Obama: good job/ bad job?
MN: Uh, the jury’s still out.
ST: Queer marriage: yay or nay?
MN: Well, I’m married. So, I’m all for if people want to get married because, of course, not everyone does. Choosing not to exercise a right is one thing; being denied it is another.
ST: Tell me a secret.
MN: I didn’t learn how to drive until I was 23 years old.
ST: Wow. Last question. What would you like our readers to know about you?
MN: I was born into a poor family and that’s what I identify with.
Thanks again, Michael and good luck.
For more info, you can check out his website here.
Photo form GLBT Historical Society.