Why the Richmond District Needs Connie Chan, NOT Marjan Philhour
Guest post by Winston Parsons
This November, The Richmond District — San Francisco’s District 1 — will be choosing a new representative in City Hall. There are seven candidates on the ballot for The Richmond, with the top three contenders being Connie Chan, David Lee, and Marjan Philhour.
Back in 2016, we told you how Marjan Philhour conducted a dirty campaign. Little has changed, and District 1 deserves a supervisor with integrity.
Connie Chan is the best choice for the Richmond District. The prospect of Marjan Philhour at City Hall is downright scary.
Marjan Philhour — The Wrong Direction for The Richmond
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Marjan Philhour is a returnee to the D1 race, having lost the race for Supervisor in 2016. She is a professional fundraiser and Mayor Breed’s former senior advisor.
Marjan has a very concerning track record on campaign ethics, housing, homelessness, policing, and transportation. Moreover, her actions regularly contradict her words, and her stances change for no reason other than political expediency.
The positions she is most consistent with are the most problematic.
Marjan’s ties to the police, refusal to support meaningful police reform.
Marjan’s actions and words indicate she would double down on SF’s local police state as the response to many of our social and economic woes.
In her 2016 bid for Supervisor, the SF Police Officers Association (POA), whose leadership represents some of the most corrupt and problematic aspects of SFPD, endorsed Marjan and, combined with other law enforcement unions and conservative labor interests, contributed tens of thousands to her campaign.
Marjan has pledged to not take POA money this year, but she’s still accepting questionable donations. For example, the attorney who defended the police officers who murdered Oscar Grant (and reps hundreds of law enforcement agencies) maxed out his donation to Marjan’s campaign. During the May 19 2020 Save Our Amazing Richmond (SOAR) forum (more on them later), Marjan was asked if she would support, enforce, and propose increased hiring for SFPD, and said “Yes.” (1:20:00) This runs to the right of Mayor Breed’s and every Supervisor’s position.
When asked about Prop E, which would eliminate the SFPD minimum staffing requirement of 1,971 officers (arbitrarily chosen in the 1980’s) she stated “there is a minimum for a reason.” When pressed to say “yes” or “no,” she said “until we have a solution we shouldn’t eliminate it.” (51:28)
When it comes to homelessness, Philhour’s rhetoric is frightening and preys on some of the worst biases in SF.
Until March 2020, Philhour was Mayor Breed’s senior advisor on housing and homelessness policy in City Hall.
The Mayor, not the Supervisors, manages most of the City entities related to housing and homelessness. Now that Marjan is running for office again, she says City Hall isn’t doing enough and “the Richmond can’t afford four more years of inaction on homlessness…the status quo just isn’t working.” Marjan was and is the status quo.
It's only Marjan's responsibility if she isn't running for Supervisor. pic.twitter.com/6RDoAk3CTP
— Upzone the Memes (@upzonethememes) September 27, 2020
Marjan’s support for abusive and ineffective measures such as 2016’s Prop Q is a red flag. Prop Q allowed for the homeless sweeps we see today and has led to unhoused individuals being harassed by City employees – their belongings seized and discarded.
Despite stating she supports “compassionate” approaches to homelessness, during a recent debate Marjan publicly stated “Sleeping on the street is the best we can do for individuals right now.” (queue to ~22:30).
Candidate for corporate investors and developers
Marjan has accepted over $30,000 in donations from real estate investors and developers, including donations from Flynn Investments, a notorious evictor. Furthermore, Marjan is the candidate of choice for the SF Apartment Association, SF Realtors, and others who recently sued SF for its COVID-19 eviction moratorium.
Failure to answer basic questionnaires
In the 2020 SF Democratic Party Questionnaire, Marjan chose not to answer a bunch of questions, including how she would better serve public housing tenants and tackle the underrepresentation and underpayment of Black workers in the civil service in S.F.
Marjan failed to complete the San Francisco Labor Council’s questionnaire and left large gaps in many others. Guess these essential workers aren’t worth her time.
She also gave this really odd non-answer to the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Club’s questionnaire that asked for a “YES/NO” answer about support for reparations.
Ties to Trump supporters and their Super PACs
Marjan is endorsed by Marie Hurabiell, founder of “Save Our Amazing Richmond,” a group of reactionary NextDoor regulars. Hurabiell is one of Donald Trump’s appointees to the Presidio Trust and the registered Republican running for City College Board this November. Yikes.
You’ve probably received pro-Marjan mailers from the “San Francisco Renter’s Alliance” and “San Francisco Families First.” They’re fake groups, one created by Marjan’s own campaign consultant, Maggie Muir.
A top contributor to a bunch of these ads is William Obendorf, who has donated over $1 million to support Mitch McConnell and backs Betsy DeVos. Hmmm, why does he think Marjan’s campaign is a good investment? ?
Ties to… bots?
San Francisco elections are often filled with shady shenanigans, and this year’s saga of bogus accounts on social media, replete with people stealing pictures/identities of random individuals to attack lefty candidates, makes for a weird S.F. iteration of Russia-gate. Prepare your popcorn and recliner for that story because it is *wild*.
Oddly enough, Marjan Philhour appears to be somehow involved (or at least aware of) these fake campaigns, given her membership in these private groups (along with the SF G.O.P., Q-Anon-ers, SOAR, etc).
Philhour’s weak climate financing pledge
In a year when wildfire smoke turned day into night it ought to be an easy symbolic act to pledge to not take ANY dollars from the fossil fuel industry. Marjan proudly boasted that she wouldn’t take contributions over $200. Connie pledged not to take any fossil fuel money.
Marjan has flip-flopped on pro-transit and pro-climate projects like Bus Rapid Transit on Geary. She vocally opposed it in the past, which makes this transportation advocate skeptical.
An audit found she had violated SF’s campaign finance ethics laws during her 2016 campaign and she couldn’t account for almost $20,000 in expenditures. Her treasurer said they “lost the receipts.”
Astroturfing as “grassroots”
Marjan was a professional political fundraiser with her own firm, “Philhour and Associates,” for 15 years, raising money for Super PACs and special interests. Although Philhour and Associates was hired by Breed’s 2016 Supervisorial re-election campaign and 2018 Mayoral campaign for political consulting services – she claims on her ballot statement that she is just a little ol’ “small business owner.”
Why Connie Chan
Connie is a lifelong public servant — from volunteering as an interpreter for pro bono SF BAR services, to serving as a legislative aide to former Supervisor Sophie Maxwell and Supervisor Aaron Peskin. She’s worked for Rec and Park, City College, and now for Assemblymember Pro Tem Kevin Mullin.
Get Connie discussing just about any issue and you’d better buckle yourself up for a well-researched discussion where she’ll make connections to other subjects you hadn’t considered. She clearly lives for this work.
Connie has experience serving for the District Attorney’s Office under Kamala Harris. Yes, the next Vice President has endorsed Connie, truly an example of women supporting women on their way up.
Shut down polluting power plants
Connie is also an environmental and public policy wonk who played a role in shutting down the polluting PG&E power plant in Potrero Hill. She served former Supervisor Sophie Maxwell when S.F., and the Bayview in particular, was experiencing triple-digit homicides. She can navigate contentious public meetings and build important community bridges.
Connie listens to EVERYONE
Connie has stated that “If elected I will represent every resident in District 1… I also understand that my job as Supervisor is to represent those who are vulnerable and often ignored by the rich and powerful.” When asked about what she thinks we need to be doing better as a City (and the West side) when it comes to COVID-19, she lists affordable/free COVID testing sites, expanded MUNI service, and extending COVID eviction moratoriums (for both small businesses and residents).
Tenant protections and 100% affordable housing
Connie will fund and approve affordable housing. Having served on projects for elected officials in almost every neighborhood, Connie has a detailed understanding of the block-by-block culture and class nuances that exist in S.F.
Speaking directly to the Chinese population
She is an immigrant and a native Chinese speaker, proficient in both Mandarin and Cantonese, making her trilingual. 40% of Richmond residents speak Chinese (~20% citywide) yet no current member on the Board of Supervisors speaks a Chinese dialect.
Having a leader who is culturally competent and can directly hear the concerns of Chinese-speaking residents (especially during rising anti-Asian rhetoric and assaults) is invaluable. Connie is intent on getting to better know and serve the Richmond’s Russian speaking community and recent immigrants.
Solid S.F. endorsements
Connie is the only candidate the S.F. Democratic Party endorsed for the Richmond District. She’s endorsed by 9 of the 11 current members of the Board of Supervisors. She’s backed by nurses, educators, firefighters, the Tenants Union, SEIU 1021, Mark Leno, Jane Kim, the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Club, small businesses like Hockey Haven, PPQ Dungeness Island, Clement Nursery, and many more.
Connie is a MUNI *master*
Growing up in Chinatown after immigrating to San Francisco at 13, Connie’s no stranger to riding (and chasing after) MUNI from an early age. Having worked in the State Assembly, she knows that we have to approach transportation, land-use, and climate change issues from a local and regional level making up for decades of under-investment in transit.
Connie is also bike-curious – concerned about the safety of riding a bike on SF streets. Her views are also informed by the experience of her partner Ed (a former bicycle messenger) and their son Edo, who regularly takes to Richmond District roads on two wheels. Did I mention she used to ride a vespa all over S.F.?
Supports police reform
Connie Chan’s response to whether we should eliminate the police staffing minimum? “Yes, we need a better measuring metric.” One week before the murder of George Floyd, Connie was the only candidate to oppose increasing the SFPD budget to hire more officers. Having worked in the District Attorney’s office and in community organizing, Connie is an expert in public safety and crime prevention.
A leader with integrity for D1
Connie is a person of upstanding character. She is…
• An honest campaigner – denying fossil fuel GOP PAC money
• Forthright – doesn’t hide her past
• Compassionate towards all Richmond District residents
• A lifelong public and community servant
• A climate, parks, transit, and public health champ
• Backed by essential workers, trusted community leaders
Connie is the leader the Richmond can trust.
Leadership is not about reinforcing narratives that degrade the disenfranchised — leadership is about standing up to bullies and elevating public discourse. Leadership is about taking bold, values-driven, and evidence-based approaches to address issues big and small. That’s the kind of leader we need for the Richmond, for San Francisco, and beyond. That’s the kind of leader we have in Connie Chan.
Please join me in voting for Connie Chan for District 1 Supervisor on November 3rd.
Winston Parsons is a Richmond District resident who was born and raised in San Francisco. He works for a nonprofit senior center and previously drove a bus, led youth enrichment and bicycling programs for the YMCA.