District 2 candidates make pitch for votes at PAR meeting

by Thomas K. Pendergast

Six candidates seeking to represent District 2 in the SF Board of Supervisors race went before a meeting of the Planning Association for the Richmond (PAR) Oct. 20 to present their platforms and views in an effort to garner votes and support.

District 2 encompasses a large part of the Richmond District, including Seacliff, Lake Street and the Laurel and Presidio heights neighborhoods.

Kat Anderson said she is a 22-year resident of San Francisco and an 18-year-resident of District 2. She's an attorney with 19 years experience in labor and employment matters. She graduated from Stanford University in 1986 with a degree in political science and a minor in economics.

"I feel like I have a special skill set that would be quite useful on the Board of Supervisors because we need to fix our budget, and a lot of our budget woes are founded in our relationships with our public employee unions. We have a problem with staffing, pensions and health-care costs. That's the number one plank in my platform," Anderson said.

She also is concerned with "keeping the Board of Supervisors focused on ordinances and laws passed for the benefit of the city and its citizens and not immigration policy and foreign policy and all those kinds of things that they waste a lot of time on, like 'meatless Mondays.'"

Barbara Ann Berwick said she came to San Francisco in the late '60s and started and operated an adult telephone entertainment company from 1985 to 2000. She said she has a home on the south side of District 2, where she lives with her family.

"The major attribute that I want you to consider when placing your vote is that I'm a business-person who thinks outside the box and I am liberal," Berwick said. "I come up with some very unique solutions, that possibly many of you may not have thought of, to a lot of the city's problems.

"I'm very interested in funding for education. I want psychologically-correct parenting taught somewhere between the seventh and ninth grades, so we can tie that to the funding we give to education," Berwick said.

Mark Farrell said he's a native San Franciscan who grew up in the Marina District and went to high school at St. Ignatius. After graduate school he went to law school at the University of Pennsylvania. He now lives in Jordan Park with his wife and two children.

"I'm running for this seat because District 2 is a part of who I am. These are the neighborhoods I grew up in, the neighborhoods I'm raising my children in, the neighborhoods I'm going to be in my entire life. It's very personal to me and that's why I'm running.

"I believe the biggest issues facing us as a city are our financial problems. We have a $6.5 billion budget. Last year's deficit was close to $500 million and next year it's going to get worse."

He's worked as a corporate attorney and an investment banker. Recently, he joined a venture capitalist firm in the City while his "day job" is investing in small businesses "to help them grow. I believe we need that experience on the Board of Supervisors right now, right here in San Francisco, more than anything else and that's what I bring to the table."

Vilma B. Guinto Peoro said she's a retired business owner and manager and a life-long resident of San Francisco.

"I advocate for programs of special concern to our community, especially children and seniors," said Peoro. "I particularly would like to see different neighborhoods that used to be in the booming areas to be a little bit more business friendly. I would like to enhance the police presence due to an increasing number of transients and homeless people."

Janet Reilly said she received her master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and moved to San Francisco in 1995 after she got married. She now sits on the Golden Gate Bridge board of directors as its first vice president, where she "oversees the policies of the Golden Gate Bridge but also runs two transit agencies, a bus system and ferry system."

She listed her three top issues facing San Francisco as the economy, the city's budget deficit and enhancing the quality of life in District 2 and citywide.

Abraham Simmons said he's been an assistant US district attorney for 12 years. He has also served on a Civil Grand Jury where "we wrote a number of reports that are now the basis for a lot of what's going on in San Francisco right now: pension reform, truancy problems and the way that we fund our non-profits. If you take a look at the Grand Jury reports from those years, you'll start to see how we're actually doing things in reaction to those reports.

"I also want to make sure that everybody knows that I am the proud father of children who are in public school here in San Francisco," Simmons said.

When taking questions from the audience, the candidates were asked for their views on city ballot measures in the upcoming election.

On Proposition B, which deals with city retirement pensions and health plans, Mark Farrell came out against it.

"My fear with prop B, if this passes, all it becomes is a ballot measure every single year," he said. "Unions aren't going to come to the table. I'm not going to have the ability to negotiate with them at all any more. It's going to cost the taxpayers millions and millions of dollars every single year to put them in the ballot. I will say pension reform is the number one thing we need to do to fix our city budget but to me Prop B, as someone who is looking to be on the Board of Supervisors, is the wrong approach."

Janet Reilly also opposes Prop. B.

"Yes we need pension reform," she said. "I say that it is taking a sledgehammer to where a scalpel is really appropriate."

Abraham Simmons, on the other hand supports Prop. B. "Anybody who has been watching the negotiations for the last four years, or the absence of negotiations for the last four years, and has been reading the controller's reports for the last three years, understands we don't have the time to start messing around with this. We need to pass Prop. B" he said.

Kat Anderson also supports Prop. B.

"We have $700 million in unfunded pension liabilities and four billion dollars in unfunded health-care liabilities. It's unsustainable," said Anderson. "What the politicians don't want you to know, and they're capping the information until after the election, is that we are heading toward bankruptcy if we don't change our ways. I like to say we must adjust."