AdviceNew ShitSan Francisco

Why It’s So Important to Vote if You’re New to San Francisco

Updated: Sep 09, 2015 09:32
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image from Bloomberg

I was in a Lyft Line the other day. Since Lyft Line is the company’s carpool service, there was another stranger in the car, other than the driver. We’ll call her Madison since I don’t recall her name.

Madison works in tech and I was telling her how a big part of my mayoral campaign is trying to get people in tech to be involved with local SF politics and to care about The City. When I asked Madison how long she’d been in SF and if she was registered to vote she said, “I’ve been here for a couple years but I’m still registered back in Orange County.”

We all have “AH HA!” moments where an idea that you held subconsciously and you felt in your being, suddenly crystalizes into something you can articulate. This was one of those moments. Madison was saying how so many people she knows in the tech industry only look at SF as a temporary stop since it’s so unaffordable. Because of this they don’t tune in or care about what happens politically, on a local level. This part I already knew. The “AH HA!” moment for me was when I realized how it is actually their duty to care. I mean, it’s really all of our duties to be part of the political process, but for people who have moved here in the past few years and don’t intend on making this a permanent home, it’s actually irresponsible if they don’t. Now before you get all cranky-in-the-pants about this, let me explain.

There’s been an estimated 40,000 people who’ve moved to San Francisco since 2010. Considering that Mayor Ed Lee only got 59,775 votes in the first round of the 2011 Mayoral Election, you can see how impactful 40,000 new people is. And we can feel this, it’s palpable. Most of the conversations people have are about things that have somehow been effected by the influx of all these new people (skyrocketing rent is just one of them). Many of the policies and bits of legislation that people are trying to enact are a direct result of this recent migration. Look, there is nothing wrong with moving to a wonderful city for a really great job, in fact, congrats on that! But, if you move to a city and the local legislation being passed is a reaction to you moving there, don’t you think you it’s your duty to care enough to be part of it?

Or let me put it like this: Let’s say you’re invited to a friend’s house and you accidentally drop a bottle of wine that shatters on the floor, making a huge mess. Do you help clean it up or do you say “Look bro, I’m only gonna be here for a little while, so you gotta clean this up yourself”?

So here’s what I’m asking: Please care about this city. I know you don’t plan on being here forever, but don’t just make a mess and walk away. I know you’re busy, and that you probably don’t have the time to research everything and that’s ok. There are trusted resources like The San Francisco League of Pissed Off Voters that put out voter guides each year. The League’s guides are funny and sharp and explain things so that non policy wonks can understand them. You can also read publications like 48 Hills and The SF Examiner to stay up on what’s happening in SF politics. Register to vote here.

If what I’m saying resonates with you, please donate to my campaign and signup to volunteer. I need your help, I’m running against someone backed by billionaires and I’m backed by people like you.

One way to help is buying one of these badass shirts. Get yours here.


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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero":SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.


  1. September 8, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    My husband and I are old timers in San Francisco. He is second generation native. We are retired union leaders. The fact that SF has always been a union town, is why it is so livable. Progressive politics are not controlled by business interests. Corporations are not in control. It is why we are able to keep out the Walmarts and other unethical employers…to a point.
    When Diane Feinstein became mayor, she manhattanize the downtown area. She couldn’t turn her back on labor and win elections, but she turned her face to what we started to call “downtown interests”. I call it corporate scumbaggery and DiFi did very well indeed after that time. She is one of richest people in San Francisco.
    Now we have many more corporations in town which seek to control City Hall while at the same time, we have fewer and weaker unions to keep them in balance. We worry about Google. It looms so large in San Francisco. It runs it’s own bus service. It is non union.
    What about it, Stuart? Tell us what you think of unions and corporations and how do you think the City has been affected by this new balance. Do newer residents see the value of this important balance, or are they all non union corporate types because they are now the only ones who can afford to live here anymore?

  2. September 29, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    Also, the League of Women Voters of SF will be releasing a Pro / Con guide in October. Great post, which really resonated with me as I stayed out of politics for so long after moving here. Just finally getting involved after about 3 years of staying registered in NJ. I think there’s a reason people don’t “settle” right away… and it looks like D-M-V!!