There is an interesting development in the hotly contest race for District 6 Supervisor in San Francisco. Longtime incumbent Chris Daly is termed out of office and has finally given his formal endorsement for a successor: Longtime aide and former election campaign manager James Keys. Keys is the Black, gay, openly HIV-positive chair of the city's Mental Health Board. If Keys were elected, he would become the first Black, openly gay elected official in San Francisco.
Despite his political connections and living in the neighborhood many years, Keys is the longshot candidate in the race to represent The Tenderloin and South of the Market, reports Matthew S. Bajko at the Bay Area Reporter
Most of the attention in the D6 race has gone to three of the 15 people running: school board President Jane Kim; out lesbian artist Debra Walker; and Theresa Sparks, a transgender woman who heads the city's Human Rights Commission ... Until Kim entered the race, the assumption had been that Walker was Daly's preferred candidate. "Debra has been in the district a long time and done solid work but she doesn't have the same kind of record on economic justice issues as James," said Daly. "He has lived in the Tenderloin a long time." Nevertheless, Keys still faces long odds in the race. A day after Daly's decision was first disclosed online by the Fog City Journal website last week, the local Democratic Party selected Walker as its endorsed candidate.
The New York Times also profiled several District 6 candidates and cast Walker and Kim as the frontrunners, but noted they could "split the progressive vote" and provide a path to victory for a candidate such as Keys. The Times also noted the changing D6 demographics, noting that candidates are "moving between soup kitchens and Starbucks in search of votes."
The dearth of Black LGBT candidates and elected officials has become quite noticeable in San Francisco, a city that is less than eight percent Black but elected Willie Brown to the Assembly and as its first black mayor. Until recently, only one openly gay Black man is known to have run for a city office, and only three out African American lesbians have mounted campaigns. None were successful.
In related news: Another Black gay, openly HIV positive man is on the November ballot in San Francisco. Legislative aide Bill Barnes—Supervisor Daly's former campaign manager—is competing for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Education. Barnes initially sought the open seat for District 10 Supervisor.