Why I’m voting for Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi

In a parallel universe Ross Mirkarimi is the mayor of San Francisco. Our city has embraced a compassionate growth strategy that has accommodated its new denizens without displacing its communities of artists, families, and working-class residents or pushing out the small businesses and cultural institutions that make San Francisco a world-class city.

Unfortunately, on November 4, 2003, a torrential downpour swept over San Francisco that crippled Matt Gonzalez’s bid for mayor by discouraging thousands of left-leaning voters from participating in democracy. Twelve years later — we’re still reeling from the impact of that storm and Ross Mirkarimi is desperately clinging on to his job as sheriff of a city where millionaire entrepreneurs and venture capitalists are the new outlaws in the Wild West.

I first met Ross Mirkarimi more than a decade ago when he ran for District 5 Supervisor in 2004. As the anointed successor to the wildly-popular Gonzalez, Ross was the clear front runner in a pack of 22 contenders. It was the first San Francisco election with ranked-choice voting, and I was fascinated by its potential to create cooperation and alliances between candidates competing in the same race.

I had pulled the paperwork and was prepared to launch my own campaign on this principle when I received a call from Julian Davis who was another candidate in the D5 race with a similar idea. I joined on as his campaign manager that night and the Candidates Collaborative was born.

Nearly all of the 22 candidates actively participated in the Candidates Collaborative, and much of its success is because of Ross’ involvement. As the frontrunner, he didn’t need to participate in order to garner the necessary support to win the election, but he chose to invest his political capital to embrace collaboration and support a more democratic model of governance.

A couple years after that election, I filmed a protest in the Mission District that prompted the FBI to demand footage of the demonstration, footage which was protected by the California Shield Law. Ross rose to the defense of myself and the First Amendment and secured the passage of a resolution condemning the federal government for usurping local law against the wishes of Attorney General Kamala Harris — she was the San Francisco District Attorney at the time — who wrote an editorial in the San Francisco Bay Guardian supporting my decision to protect my unpublished material.

The next year, when I was the victim of a violent crime by a perpetrator I knew lived less than two blocks away from my home, I couldn’t get the police to take action or even return my calls. I reached out in desperation to my district supervisor, Ross Mirkarimi. Within an hour, Ross personally called me back to express his empathy and to offer his support.

Minutes after hanging up the phone, I received a call from the captain of the Northern Police Station. The next day I met with a detective to review a photo lineup and the police arrested the suspect a few days later.

At this moment, Ross Mirkarimi should be sailing through his reelection bid for mayor of San Francisco, 60 percent of all new housing development should be affordable, and the arts and culture should be safe from being decimated by our rising economy.

But that’s not the reality we live in, and until possibilty becomes reality Ross is the right person to continue serving as Sheriff of San Francisco. His previous experience in co-founding the California Green Party and involvement in the D5 Candidates Collaborative makes him a proven city leader that we cannot afford to lose.