When I first ran for the San Francisco Community College Board in 1992, I employed a strategy of putting together a list of all the registered Filipino voters in the city - a process of voter extrapolation that included those who listed the Philippines as their place of birth and those with “Filipino sounding” names - and then contacting and connecting with those voters..
After compiling a list of 14,000 names and phone numbers, I asked a phone bank of volunteers to call the folks in the list to introduce me to them, to inform them of my experience as president of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) and of the fact that I initiated the move to transfer 15 acres of SFPUC reservoir land to the Ocean Campus of City College, the most congested community college campus in the state. My volunteers also emphasized the empowering need for our community to have representatives elected to policy-making positions.
Even though I only raised about $40,000 that year - easily outspent by another candidate who poured $180,000 of her own personal funds to win a seat, I won that first race and every election since then. I credit that initial victory with our strategy of getting out the Filipino vote and asking the Filipino voters to encourage their friends, relatives, neighbors and co-workers to vote for me.
That strategy may have worked then but I am not sure it would work now. There are 437,995 registered voters in San Francisco . Out of this number, 308,188 were born in the US and 106,497 were born abroad. About 81,608 voters are identified as “Asian” while another 48,204 are self-identified as Chinese. Of this total number, only 11,677 identify themselves as Filipinos (source: politicaldata.com).
It may be that this figure is a gross undercount. It may also be that the figure is accurate and reflects the emigration of Filipinos of San Francisco to the suburbs of Daly City (where 35% of the population is Filipino), South San Francisco, Colma and further out to the Alameda cities of Union City, Hayward and Fremont and beyond to Vallejo and Benecia.
The rapid increase in the numbers of Filipinos in those cities has resulted in the election of Filipinos to public office there. But how will it affect the prospect of electing Filipinos in San Francisco now ?
Conchita Applegate, a Filipino American Republican in San Francisco , is running against incumbent Democrat Fiona Ma for the State Assembly, a daunting challenge for anyone, but especially in a city where 246,460 voters identify themselves as Democrats and only 43,232 as Republicans (source: politicaldata.com).
Myrna Viray Lim, a Filipino American Democrat, is running for Supervisor in District 11, in a district which has a termed-out incumbent and a population that is 49% Asian (5,000 Filipinos, 7,000 Chinese and 1,000 Vietnamese), according to the poll data obtained by Lim. As the only woman and the only Asian in a tight race, Myrna Lim may yet eke out a win over her three male opponents, who are more heavily funded.
According to poll data, Filipinos live all over San Francisco but are especially concentrated in District 6 (South of Market and the Tenderloin) and in District 11 (outer Mission and Excelsior). St. Patrick’s Church in District 6 and Corpus Christi Church and Epiphany Church in District 11 have mostly Filipino congregations.
In District 6, the supervisor is Chris Daly, the subject of a critical column I wrote (“The Dream of Ed De La Cruz”, Telltale Signs, 04/26/06). I described how Daly maneuvered the cut-off of funds to the West Bay Pilipino Multi-Service Center, established by the late Filipino community leader Ed de la Cruz, and then subsequently transferred of those funds to groups and individuals who are allied with and loyal to Daly.
As a result of Daly’s anti-Filipino activities, I actively involved myself in the 2006 campaign to unseat him, supporting his main opponent, Rob Black. But Daly won and, in his election night victory speech, he announced that he would get back at those who came out against him.
To make good on his threat this year, Daly fielded a slate of candidates to the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC), winning a significant plurality of seats in the 34-member DCCC in the June 6 primaries. Daly then threatened wavering members that if they didn’t vote for his candidate for DCCC chair (Aaron Peskin), he would make it his “personal mission to make sure that (they) never receive the endorsement of the Guardian, Tenants Union, Sierra Club, and Milk Club in subsequent races.” ("Aaron Peskin wins vote for Dem county chair”, Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle, 07/25/08)
The threat worked. As a result, the “San Francisco Democratic Party has veered dramatically to the left, telling voters that on Nov. 4 they should elect a raft of ultra-liberal supervisorial candidates, decriminalize prostitution, boot JROTC from public schools, embrace public power and reject Mayor Gavin Newsom's special court in the Tenderloin.” (“S.F. Democrats take a sharp turn to the left”, Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle, 08/15/08).
As a result of Daly's take-over, for the first time since I first ran for office, I did not receive the endorsement of the SFDCCC nor of any of the democratic clubs in the city under Daly's control or sway. One of those groups is the San Francisco Filipino American Democratic Club (FADC) under Joe Julian, a DCCC member who won on Daly’s slate. Julian did not even invite me to be interviewed for consideration of endorsement by his FADC.
When one of those endorsed by the FADC for the School Board, Emily Murase, sent in her check to help pay for the FADC slate mailer, she was informed by Roy Recio, the chair of the club’s political action committee, that she needed to write a check instead to the “Change Slate”. She was dismayed to learn that this was a PAC controlled by Chris Daly. (“S.F. Filipino club backs Daly PAC”, Ken Garcia, San Francisco Examiner, 10/17/08).
When Chris Daly wants to stick it to you, he wants you to know it. But will he get away with it?