San Francisco Needs To Fix The Voting Process Before We Can Make Real Change Happen

San Francisco is an over-regulated bloated bureaucracy. It is running on a one-party system with no political opposition in order to ensure checks and balances. Our city is in a significant decline and facing one of the worst crises in its history. It needs leadership, but we effectively don’t have it. What is the problem, and what can we do?

Over the years, we made a series of political moves that initially seemed to make sense, but ultimately have been utter failures. When we voted for district elections, the City created ranked-choice voting, which hailed as giving more power to the local voter, but in fact, has done the exact opposite. 

By electing our city supervisors by districts, the belief was that this would lead to better leadership within our individual neighborhoods. Again, good intentions initially, but when applied under real life circumstances, we now have supervisors making decisions for our entire city with only small percentage of supportive votes. The reality is, a supervisor representing a city of 800,000 residents could get elected with less than 25,000 votes. 

On average, district election campaigns can cost at least $300,000 or more. Therefore, candidates supported by parties and special interest groups are the only candidates that run because an independent, self-funded candidate simply can’t compete. 

Ranked-choice voting was supposed to eliminate the need for costly run-off elections, but now we have a system where candidates work to win second and third place finishes so if a candidate does not get 51%–  they can still win the election. 

For example, when Ron Dudum ran for District 4 supervisor, he won first place in the initial ballot three times, yet he never won the election. The candidates he beat included Leland Yee, Fiona Ma, and another candidate who ultimately won the election even though they initially came in second place. They ended up not even living in San Francisco and went to jail. 

We need real political reform in our city to make it work again. It has become too political, controlled by special interests, and way too over-regulated to ever run efficiently. We need to create a political environment where our leadership has real experience running large organizations successfully. We have a city of over 40,000 employees; to be an effective supervisor or mayor, you need a unique skillset and experience to negate and successfully manage an organization of this size. If you look at the majority of the candidates running for supervisor, you’ll see they have no such experience. As a result, we end up with failed leadership and failed policies. It is not that these elected officials don’t care, it’s that they don’t have the expertise to make real change happen.