Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Dean Preston for D5 Supervisor
On Haight Street near Fillmore stands a mysterious business named the Peacock Lounge and Gold Room, which turns out to be owned and operated by the Unity Mutual Social Club, a group of black Masons that dates from the 1960s.
On Saturday afternoon, there was a free public gathering there to rally volunteers for an SF District Five Supervisor candidate, Dean Preston, and it was a surprisingly smart, hopeful and inspiring occasion.
The Peacock Lounge is a tiny bar, where people were meeting and greeting, including political activists David Talbot and David Salaverry above.
Behind the bar is the "Gold Room," a large multi-purpose area which looked a bit like a church basement, where music and speeches were being given.
The first speaker was San Francisco author David Talbot, who wrote the recently published, brilliant muckracking history of Allen Dulles and the CIA, The Devil's Chessboard. Talbot helped form a group last year called Vision SF that is attempting to wrest control from the tech billionaires like Ron Conway who openly brag about owning City Hall and Mayor Ed Lee. Talbot apologized for reading from a prepared statement called Home, a moving essay about the necessity for a roof over one's head and the indignities associated with being homeless.
District 9 Supervisor David Campos gave a speech talking about how consistently effective Dean Preston has already been in his work as a lawyer and statewide tenant activist. "Dean came to me and asked, can't we come up with legislation to protect San Francisco schoolteachers from being evicted from their homes in the middle of a school year?" Campos related. "It's a simple enough idea, which just about everyone can agree with, and the legislation is being brought to the Board of Supervisors this week."
Former District 5 Supervisors Christina Olague and Matt Gonzalez followed with their heartfelt endorsements. Gonzalez mentioned that current District 5 Supervisor London Breed was a bad fit for the district, which has historically been one of the most liberal voting blocs in the city and the country. "That's a strange thing to say because Breed was born and raised in the district and she's smart and capable, but her constituents deserve someone who isn't twisting themselves into compromises with Airbnb and others ravaging this city."
Finally, the candidate himself gave a smart speech acknowledging that he was facing an uphill battle in trying to unseat an incumbent, but that the effort was worth it. "This wouldn't be possible without district elections, but there are only 35,000 people to reach and we plan on meeting almost all of them."
"This is a completely ground-up campaign, with meetings in every neighborhood to discover their individual issues and how they can organize themselves to make a difference at City Hall. It's amazing how different each neighborhood is, from the Inner Sunset to the Fillmore to the Haight, none of which really talk to each other. Part of what we're trying to do is organize these groups so they have some collective power going forward, whether we win this race or not." The candidate managed to steer away from the usual political posturing cliches, and his positive message was refreshing. He certainly has my vote this November.