10/10/2011 10:15 pm ET Updated Dec 10, 2011

San Francisco Candidate Questionnaire David Chiu

David Chiu

Born: 1970, Cleveland, Ohio

Current Gig: Board of Supervisors President

Why should we vote for you?
Our City deserves a Mayor who has a record of results and a vision for the future. I have proven my ability to build bridges, seek common ground, and solve problems rather than score political points, and my record of fighting for San Franciscans is unique among the candidates:

Ability to bring people together. Since 2009, I have been President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Before I came to City Hall, there were times when the Mayor and members of the Board of Supervisors couldn't even be in the same room, let alone work together on the difficult issues of the day. I'm proud that since I took office, things have changed for the better. I have proven my ability at building bridges, seeking common ground, and looking to solve problems rather than score political points.

Diverse experiences outside of public office. I have experience as a founder of a small business here in San Francisco. I've worked as a civil rights attorney and a criminal prosecutor here. And I've volunteered as a leader of my neighborhood association and chair of an affordable housing organization here. All these experiences have given me perspectives on the challenges that everyday San Franciscans face—perspectives I would bring to the Mayor's office.

A record of results in public office. Other candidates may say what they are going to do, but I have a record of results in just three years in City Hall that I would put up against anyone in this race. In my tenure leading the Board of Supervisors, we have balanced our budgets, reached a deal to rein in pension costs, won the America's Cup and approved the creation of new affordable housing units across the city. I have been at the center of all this negotiations and shown my ability to get to yes and get things done for the people of this City, particularly our most vulnerable.

List a few of your most significant endorsements. Which one do you feel best exemplifies the reasons why you are running for mayor?
League of Conservation Voters #1
California Nurses' Association #2
San Francisco Bicycle Coalition #2
UNITE HERE Local 2 #2
Chinese American Citizens Alliance #2
United Food and Commercial Workers
SEIU-United Healthcare Workers #3
San Francisco Arts Democratic Club #3
San Francisco Association of Realtors
Chinese American Democratic Club #3
Democratic Women in Action #3
Eric Mar, Supervisor, District 1
Jane Kim, Supervisor, District 6
Malia Cohen, Supervisor, District 10
Norman Yee, Vice President, SFUSD Board of Education
Sandy Fewer, Commissioner, SFUSD Board of Education
Kim-shree Maufas, Commissioner, SFUSD Board of Education
Mark Sanchez, Past President, SFUSD Board of Education
Chris Jackson, Vice President, City College of SF Board of Trustees
Susan Leal, Former San Francisco City Treasurer
Cheryl Brinkman, MTA Board Commissioner
Milo Hanke, San Francisco Beautiful
Fei Tsen, Chair of Chinatown Community Development Center Board of Directors
Norman Fong, Incoming Executive Director, Chinatown Community Development Center
Diane Chin, Former Executive Director, Chinese for Affirmative Action
Keith Kamisugi, Board Member, Nichi Bei Foundation
Monty Agarwal, Former President, South Asian Bar Association
Warren Mar, AFT 2121
Rahul Prakesh, Environmental Commissioner
Ramie Dare, Mercy Housing California
Bert Hill, Transportation Advocate
Richard Ventura, former President, San Francisco Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Scott Hauge, President, Small Business California

I can't choose just one of my endorsements to represent my entire candidacy. The real story is in the diversity of my endorsements—collectively, they represent my record and vision for San Francisco.

My endorsement list reflects my record at creating jobs. My union endorsements (UFCW, Local 2, SEIU-UHW and the California Nurses Association) demonstrate my commitment to all San Francisco workers—from hotel and restaurant workers to nurses and home care providers. My business community endorsers demonstrate my track record on streamlining bureaucracy for small businesses and supporting smart business development projects in our city.

My education, environmental and transit endorsements affirm my commitment to making San Francisco the most livable friendly city in the nation. The many current and past school board members who support me know my commitment to our schools. The League of Conversation Voters endorsed me #1 because of my record at crafting four first-in-the-nation environmental legislation The support I received from the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition illustrates my commitment to building a 21st century transit system in San Francisco.

What's your favorite place in San Francisco?

Ocean Beach.

What is the single biggest issue facing San Francisco right now?
Creating jobs and fostering economic development has been my top priority as a Supervisor and will continue to be so as Mayor. In the aftermath of the Great Recession, I have spoken to hundreds of workers struggling to hang on—unsure of where their next paycheck will come from, or if it will come at all.

I want to protect the jobs of today while making sure the jobs of tomorrow are created right here in San Francisco. I am proud to have helped to bring billions of dollars in economic activity and thousands of jobs to the city through projects like the Hunter's Point Shipyeard, Park Merced, Treasure Island, Central Subway and the American's Cup, and to have sponsored several pieces of legislation to ensure that more of our city's business goes to local firms with local workers.

Additionally, small businesses are the engine of our economy and the biggest creator of good-paying jobs for our residents. We need to do more to make it easier to start, build and grow small businesses in San Francisco—particularly in our blighted neighborhoods, so that vacant storefronts turn into hubs of economic activity. As a Supervisor, I 've eliminated dozens of fees nickeling and diming local businesses—money that's better used to hire employees and increase productivity—but there is even more red tape to be cut. We should be providing incentives for small businesses to hire now, and we should be looking at a tax system that doesn't penalize small (and large) businesses for creating jobs here in San Francisco.

So many of the other issues that we care about—health, safety, family security, education—must rest on a foundation of economic stability. There are 6 broad strategies for job creation that I will employ:

Createan Environment for Small Businesses to Flourish by consolidating fees and permitting processes, increasing the number of City contracts awarded to local small businesses, and increasing access to loan programs that enable businesses to expand.

Support High-Growth Industries, not just in the technology sectors, but in artisanal manufacturing, social enterprise, and other industries that create opportunities for people without a college degree and who have barriers to employment.

Ensure Access to Career Pathways ForAll San Franciscans by aggressively implementing and enforcing the local hire ordinance, strengthening partnerships between business and education institutions, and addressing barriers that prevent individuals from accessing workforce services and employment.

Reform our Business Tax by replacing the payroll tax with a gross receipts tax that is more equitable and does not disincentivize hiring.
Strengthen our Neighborhood Commercial Corridors by increasing investment in physical infrastructure (e.g., T-3rd Street Muni line, parklets, streetscape improvements); highlighting and expanding local institutions; and expanding support for existing neighborhood economic development programs.

Protect Workers from Abuse by strengthening our Office of Labor Standards Enforcement, and connecting employees with information about their rights and benefits.

Over the past year, Muni's on-time percentage dropped for the first time in five years, largely due to budget-related service cutbacks. As mayor, what would you to do make Muni better?
I do not own a car and often depend on Muni to get around the city, so I know first hand the challenges of late, crowded, and slow-moving buses, light rail vehicles and cable cars. In the recent era of fare increases and reduced service, I pushed successfully to restore Muni service cuts and crafted a reform package to require performance audits, explore governance challenges, and establish written work order agreements.

While San Francisco has had a plan to improve Muni reliability and travel times—the Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP)—we need to stop talking and start acting. We have a real opportunity to improving speed, reliability, and capacity on the Muni rapid network. Implementing the recommendations in the TEP would help achieve 10 to 30 percent time travel savings, dramatically cut operating costs, and increase reliability on each line.

Specifically, as Mayor I would push for: bus stop consolidation, bus prioritization at traffic signals, more transit-only lanes for rail and bus, Bus Rapid Transit on Geary and Van Ness, proof of payment and ticket machines to speed boarding and permit all-door boarding, converting rail and bus lines to low-floor vehicles to increase accessibility and speed boarding

The problems of funding are real for Muni. The recession saw revenues plummet for transportation agencies throughout the Bay Area. I support new revenue for the MTA and Muni, but the agency also has to get its management and labor houses in order. Over the past years, I have led the fight at the Board of Supervisors to ensure adequate Muni funding, and would continue to do so as Mayor. I would also continue to be a leader in supporting a restoration of the Vehicle License Fee to the levels before Governor Schwarzenegger reversed the fee that had been in place for decades; this item alone could generate more than $50 million per year.

What do you think of Prop. E,which would allow the Board to amend or repeal laws passed by voters?
Prop E would allow the Board, after a certain number of years, to amend or repeal laws that had been placed on the ballot by either the Mayor or the Board and passed by voters. I support it because oftentimes over time, ballot measures become antiquated over time or have technical flaws which become revealed, and Prop E would allows us to update and modernize such measures, rather than have to go back to the voters. Under Prop E, the Board would still have to engage in a public, transparent process before making any amendments to past laws.

Last year, 86 percent of San Francisco schools failed to meet the government's yearly progress standards. What would you do as mayor to improve the city's public school system?
Every San Franciscan—whether they have a child in the public schools or not—has a stake in ensuring that children in our City have access to a public education that prepares them for college, career, and a lifetime of civic engagement. This is an absolutely critical part of my vision for a 21st century San Francisco and will be among my highest priorities as Mayor. In recent years, San Francisco has lost thousands of families, and this unsustainable trend requires immediate action. We simply cannot tolerate schools that are failing our children, or continue to have families flee our city because of them. So while the Mayor does not directly manage the SF Unified School District, City College or SF State, I believe that our city government must be the moral authority in taking care of our students.

I am proud to have actively supported the passage of the June 2008 parcel tax, which increased teacher salaries and make infrastructure improvements to San Francisco's schools, and I have voted for every proposition to increase school funding since I joined the Board of Supervisors. I have already committed to education and SFUSD leaders to be a strong champion of the November 2011 facilities bond measure as well. And I have supported the maximum use of Rainy Day funds from the City and County of San Francisco to help bolster school finances.

But while this is important, so much of our education crisis comes from the challenges we face at the State level. Sacramento has failed to produce a sustainable solution for school funding, and we simply cannot take it anymore. As Mayor, I would play a leading role in the California Mayors Education Roundtable to tackle inadequate and inequitable education funding. State legislators have failed to enact the fundamental school finance reform that everyone agrees our system needs. I want to represent San Francisco and lead Mayors around the state to call for a sustainable solution to the funding issue. This includes pushing to amend or eliminate Prop 13 and calling on the State to settle the school funding lawsuits.

The reality is that, in the short term, our City government must do its part to fill the gaps that Sacramento has created or else programs will continue to be on the chopping block. I will continue to advocate for the use of general funds to support our school system, and strongly support the extension and expansion of Prop H. To mitigate the impact of such spending on the budget, I am supportive of new revenue sources, and have proposed an increase in the vehicle license fee, licensing the city's dark fiber infrastructure and business tax reform as three revenue-generating possibilities.

As Mayor, I will use the powers of my office to bring all stakeholders to the table—teachers and paraprofessionals, parents and concerned residents, business and community leaders, administrators and students themselves—to build a world class public education system right here in San Francisco.

How well do you think the deal for the America's Cup was negotiated by the city? Is there anything you would have done differently as mayor?

I am proud to be the one mayoral candidate who was directly involved in the negotiations to bring to San Francisco both the America's Cup and its projected $1.4 billion impact on the local economy. I am regularly engaged in the complex planning and permitting efforts to prepare for the regattas and believe they are mostly on track. The interdepartmental team seems to be working well with outside stakeholders and with the myriad agencies—from the National Park Service to the Bay Conservation and Development Commission—that have jurisdiction over aspects of the planning. The Draft Environmental Impact Report lays out a stunning number of issues to address from transportation to the impact on the Bay, and I look forward to seeing the formal responses to comments.

As Mayor I would put even more emphasis on transportation opportunities, on making AC34 a zero waste event, and ensuring that diverse, local residents benefit from the jobs created by the event.

One thing I will not accept is the creation of a commercial marina at Rincon Point that restricts the ability of San Franciscans to enjoy the waterfront or permanently obstructs our views of the Bay.

Describe Gavin Newsom in two words.
Handsome man

Describe Willie Brown in three words.
Mayor for life

Describe Chris Daly in four words.
"On like Donkey Kong"