This article first appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on May 5, 2016
Scott Wiener is a hard worker and problem solver.
Despite a reputation for lockstep liberalism, San Francisco lawmakers have clear differences. A prime example is the state Senate race between workhorse wonk Scott Wiener, a standard bearer for moderates, and progressive deal maker Jane Kim, who’s forced changes on major housing deals.
Wiener is a studied, low-key supervisor who has probably produced more legislation than any of his peers. His work on transit, health care and city finances gives him the wide, non-splashy experience that will serve San Francisco’s many needs in Sacramento.
Kim is a worthy opponent. She has a ready grasp of the city’s anxieties over rising living costs, especially in her development-heavy South of Market district. As a supervisor, she has broken with the progressive pack by supporting tax breaks for tech firms moving into a derelict stretch of Market street.
Wiener’s experience and legislative achievements make him the ideal fit to replace termed-out Sen. Mark Leno. The Senate district, taking in all of the city and northern San Mateo County, demands a leader who can step in without an extended learning curve.
On the board, Wiener has worked to shorten the lengthy construction approvals, shore up Muni service and finances, and author a paid parental leave plan, the first in the nation.
His pragmatic sensibility shines through in other issues. He backed street sweeps of homeless camps, a move that Kim opposed. He favors giving police stun guns to subdue suspects while Kim is against the devices. One of his most notable campaigns was a ban on nudists who plagued the Castro district, a move that Kim voted against.
Housing is a major problem clouding San Francisco’s future, and both candidates offer answers. Wiener backs zoning changes that have brought apartment construction to Upper Market and opposed out-of-scale construction in nearby neighborhoods. Kim has pushed builders to greatly increase below-market units in major projects such as the 22-acre development proposed by the Giants. She also backed the overbroad Mission housing moratorium that voters rejected.
Both candidates are almost certain to finish one-two over Republican Ken Loo on June 7, assuring that the battle of the Democrats will extend to November.
Wiener is our choice.