Why You Should Support Dean Preston for District 5 Supervisor
Political junkies call electoral contests such as the one coming this November an off-year election. The characteristics of such elections are: no big political office such as President or Governor, low voter turnout, and usually a more conservative electorate. But interested BAS readers can turn San Francisco’s off-year election into a surprising one. This election can be the one where for the first time, San Francisco elects two people openly running as Socialists to public office. One of them is Chesa Boudin who is running for District Attorney and who we wrote about right here. The other one is Dean Preston who is running for District 5 Supervisor.
Dean Preston has lived in District 5 long enough to see some really unfortunate changes to both the neighborhood and San Francisco itself. In the 23 years he’s been in this district (which includes the Haight and the Western Addition), local businesses that everyone thought would be around forever have suddenly shuttered. Economic expulsion of longtime black residents has resulted in their replacement by incoming wealthier white residents. The Municipal Railway service we rely on to get around San Francisco has seen a sharp decline in quality and insane fares increases. Were Preston to wear a T-shirt with a message, that statement would be “This Is Not OK.”
In a San Francisco racked by huge problems resulting from ferocious economic inequality, gradualism as a political tactic to handle these huge challenges feels spectacularly inadequate. Swinging for the fences with a Big Ideas bat could very well be the solution San Francisco needs. In other words, this City by the Bay needs the Thinking Big skills of Dean Preston.
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This tenant’s rights activist and open Democratic Socialist is no stranger to thinking up big ideas and realizing them. His local successes include being instrumental in passing 2018’s Prop F, the San Francisco measure that provided attorneys to tenants facing eviction. On the state level, Preston founded the statewide tenant advocacy organization Tenants Together. His activism has earned him the enmity of local developers who prefer San Francisco government give them a blank check to do whatever.
Preston’s anti-developer stance has also antagonized the pro-development YIMBYs, who mischaracterize Preston’s position as being against building new housing in S.F. to relieve homelessness. In reality, the tenant activist does want San Francisco to build more housing…just not on the developers’ terms. For example, He believes the city should acquire land that can be used to build social housing or else help facilitate more community land trusts. Also, the development market’s continued failure to ensure the availability of sufficient affordable housing stock means to Preston that the government needs to get back into building public housing. A San Francisco for all residents cannot be built from the status quo combination of a bounty of luxury housing units and the miniscule crumbs of affordable housing units.
Preston’s conviction that making housing a human right via government intervention is just one of his big ideas. Another is the establishment of a San Francisco Public Bank. This institution would invest tax dollars collected from San Franciscans into creating affordable housing or providing low-cost loans to first-time homebuyers and small businesses. Preston also favors replacing PG&E with clean public power to help implement the Green New Deal on the municipal level.
The candidate’s ability to dream big for the public good reflects both his love of the city and an example of his willingness to find ways to give back to the place he calls home. His active involvement in the Alamo Square Neighborhood Association included protecting small businesses and fighting back against developers. If you’ve enjoyed a live music show at the Cafe du Nord, you can thank Preston and his partners for keeping this venue open for established and up-and-coming musical acts.
All these ideas that Preston generates aren’t intended to arrogate for himself the power to decide what District 5 and his community needs. He may be a magna cum laude graduate of UC Hastings School of Law and a former Tenderloin Housing Clinic attorney. But he prioritizes district residents’ input to identify District 5’s most pressing problems. What this candidate offers with his skills and background is a way to funnel these concerns towards creating solutions to problems that affect both District 5 and the City.
You should vote for Dean Preston because he has little interest in finding cautious incremental solutions to solve San Francisco’s most urgent problems. It’s way past time to Think Big.
Get involved in Dean Preston’s campaign by donating money or signing up to volunteer right here.