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They Might be Mayors:Angela Alioto

Oct
1
2003

Former San Francisco Supervisor Angela Aliota’s very name is enough to call up memories of a city led and run by one of its best-known mayors, Joe Alioto.
His only daughter, Angela Alioto, is clearly trying in her run for the office once held by her father to capture the coalition he once described as “a kind of New Deal coalition of labor and minorities, plus flag-waving Italians.” She has backing from many of the city’s politically powerful labor unions. Angela Alioto served on the San Francisco board of supervisors from 1988 to 1997 and was interviewed in her campaign headquarters on Howard Street.

What’s this mayor’s race about for you as a candidate?

The future of the city as far as the present crisis that it’s in, from homelessness to affordable housing to education, which is a departmental nightmare and so is homelessness and health and housing. It is in my opinion going to get so much worse if someone doesn’t really care.


Why do you think it’s going to get so much worse?
Because I’ve seen the statistics. When I left [the Board of Supervisors] in January, 1997 I said you can not close small residential [care facilities] for the mentally ill. You can’t close them. There were 67 of them. These were houses that had anywhere from 10 to 30 people in them and the city was closing them left and right. For ridiculous reasons. I said you can not close them. I fought for eight years and kept them open along with Mt. Zion Crisis Clinic. The crisis clinic closed four months after I left and there were over 33 residential place that have closed. All those people go onto the street. They don’t go into care or housing or anything.
I meet with experts all the time. As a trial attorney, I depend on experts. And the experts are telling me that the homeless population will triple in the next seven to eight years if we don’t do something now. And I absolutely believe that. And I believe it because you can see different things that are happening from the boarded up houses at the housing authority to you name it, it’s very, very clear this government has no desire to even attempt to solve the problems. As a consequence I honestly believe it’s going to be a nightmare.
You grew up in San Francisco.
Yes. So did my grandmother.
What is the thing you remember? What’s the first memory that flashes into your head?
North Beach. Just hanging out in North Beach on weekends with my Dad and my mother and father and brothers, principally my Dad. I was the only girl. I was raised with five brothers. I was the only girl being raised. He and I used to go all over the place together. Just the two of us. He became mayor when I was 13 or 14. I’m talking about when I’m little. When you said ‘born and raised’ I think of North Beach and I think of the Marina Blvd., sitting there and watching the water.
When the Marina was an Italian neighborhood.
Yeah. Absolutely. I’m not too sure it isn’t, you know that. We just did some polling and I am polling a very strong number two if not number one in the Marina which is Gavin Newsom’s home. I’m not so sure — those Italians are in there somewhere!
What do you miss about that San Francisco?
The quality of life. There’s not the same thing. Of course things change when you get older, in any event. But there’s no camaraderie. There’s no caring about what the city looks like on a big picture. It’s all about very individual people. That’s what I miss. There’s no community feeling. You don’t go to North Beach and go in and out of every store and know everybody anymore. People are not friendly. It’s a struggle to live.
Her priorities:
1)Homelessness/Quality of Life
2)Housing/Home Ownership
3)Jobs/Economic Recovery
4)Schools
5)Neighborhood Preservation
6)Police Department Oversight
7)Muni/Public Transit
[Alioto says that City Government Reform -- undoing waste, mismanagement and corruption -- is of over-arching importance. It comes before everything else and will affect all the other priorities listed.]
You left the Board of Supervisors in 1997. What’s the thing your proudest of an elected official?
Keeping open all the health care centers. I wrote the first smoking ban in the nation in restaurants — the ban itself in restaurants was my first one. I have over 30 pieces of legislation on tobacco. The second big one was in the workplace. Then we did stadiums and ballparks and outdoor arenas. Then we did advertising near schools, then we got rid of Joe Camel completely. We changed the advertising on tobacco. My needle exchange legislation I believe saves lives every single day. That was a tough one because the black community thought it encouraged drug taking and it was a big debate. And, of course, medicinal marijuana.
What do you think your biggest mistake has been, as a public official? Nothing?
Not when it comes to my eight years in office, no.

What’s the more important change you’d like to see in San Francisco, regardless of whether you become mayor?

Homelessness, getting poor people off the streets.
What’s the thing you don’t want to change about the city?
Its character. I’m very big on landmark and preservation issues. Preserving the neighborhoods. The character of San Francisco absolutely makes it the jewel of a city that it is. When you change architecture and you change buildings, even if they leave the façade and they build from within, you’re changing the character totally.
Some people have compared the mayoral election to the TV show, “Survivor.” You’re on the island, who do you want to vote off?
I can only vote just one off? [laughs] Gavin Newsom.
That’s what I thought. Who would you then vote off if Gavin’s already gone?
I don’t know.
Some people say this is the Lefty Primary. It’s not really an election.
It is. But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be good. So why would I vote them off? Caring means a lot to me. You have to be real and you have to care. [Former Police Chief and mayoral candidate] Tony Ribera couldn’t be more of a Republican — to me — and he is a good man who means well and I would not at all be upset if Tony Ribera had a main role in taking care of San Francisco. As opposed to Gavin Newsom who is in it for his sole self benefit.

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