District 5 candidates discuss SF budget and their priorities

A smiling person with glasses standing in front of a red background. by  ELENI BALAKRISHNAN JUNE 18, 2024 (MissionLocal.org)

Illustration of District 5 with 2024 supervisorial race candidates Bilal Mahmood, Dean Preston, Allen Jones, Autumn Looijen, and Scotty Jacobs depicted below the skyline.

Here’s the latest in our “Meet the Candidates” series for District 5, in which we ask each candidate to answer one question per week leading up to the election. Four candidates are challenging incumbent Supervisor Dean Preston to represent District 5, which spans from the east end of Golden Gate Park through Haight-Ashbury, Japantown and the Western Addition, the Lower Haight and Hayes Valley, and most of the Tenderloin.

Everyone’s talking about Mayor London Breed’s proposed budget, so we will, too. And a city budget as massive as San Francisco’s — nearly $16 billion — deserves some scrutiny. Why do some departments get so much money, while others get so little?

This week’s question is: What are your thoughts on the budget, and which departments do you think should have gotten more or less funding?

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Our candidates shared their thoughts, but many didn’t quite answer the question.

Note: I will be at Cafe Réveille, 201 Steiner St, on Thursday, June 20, at 4:30 p.m. Come say hi and share your thoughts about District 5.

Illustration of a smiling woman with glasses and long hair in a circular frame.

Autumn Looijen

  • Job: School board recall co-founder
  • Age: 46
  • Residency: Tenant in District 5 since December 2020, landowner
  • Transportation: Public transit
  • Education: Bachelor’s degree from California Institute of Technology
  • Languages: English

We’re facing serious budget issues in the years ahead. Office attendance is down 50 percent, and there are 20 Salesforce Towers worth of empty space downtown. That means less money for city services … and it’s not a quick fix.

By 2027-2028, the city expects a $1.3 billion annual shortfall. We cannot spend money we don’t have.

I would preserve safety and infrastructureaudit nonprofits, and compare our current staffing to 2018 levels, and to other cities with satisfied residents. I would entirely cut foil and pipe distributionreduce administration to preserve workers’ jobs, and make sure we spend our limited money wisely.

Endorsed by: San Francisco police union.

District 5 candidate Bilal Mahmood

Bilal Mahmood

  • Job: Founder of private and philanthropic organizations
  • Age: 37
  • Residency: Tenant in District 5 since May 2023
  • Transportation: Walking
  • Education: Bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, master’s degree from University of Cambridge
  • Languages: English, Urdu

San Francisco has had a record budget for years. And yet, bureaucracy and corruption have held back appropriate delivery of services. Due to bureaucracy, we are nearly 14 percent understaffed across various government departments, with some even at 20-percent-vacancy levels. As a result, nearly $500 million across public health and safety is unspent or inefficiently spent as overtime, as I documented in my research last year. 

If elected, I will ensure our departments are working efficiently and hold them accountable to taxpayers. We don’t have a budget problem, we have a results problem.

Endorsed by: San Francisco YIMBY, State Senator Scott Wiener and DCCC Chair Honey Mahogany.

District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston

Dean Preston

  • Job: Incumbent, tenant attorney
  • Age: 54
  • Residency: Homeowner, in District 5 since 1996
  • Transportation: Public transit
  • Education: Bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College, juris doctor degree from University of California Law, San Francisco
  • Languages: English

The budget is a statement of values. We should prioritize critical services for our residents, and make sure to meet the needs of the most vulnerable. That’s especially important when we face budget deficits.

Progressive taxes on the ultra-wealthy saved this city from economic ruin during the pandemic. I wrote Prop. I, which has brought in more than $300 million for housing, transit and parks; I’ve strongly backed other successful taxes on billionaires. 

We should cut the administration’s multi-million dollar PR operations, travel budgets, and bloated/ever-increasing police budgets, and invest more in food security, affordable housing, overdose prevention, and youth programs

Endorsed by: Bernie Sanders, United Educators of San Francisco, San Francisco Labor Council, San Francisco Tenants Union, National Union of Healthcare Workers.

Cartoon illustration of a man with short hair, glasses, a beard, and a blue collared shirt, set inside a circular teal background.

Scotty Jacobs

  • Job: Marketing
  • Age: 30
  • Residency: Tenant in District 5 since November 2022, homeowner
  • Transportation: Public bicycle
  • Education: Bachelor’s degree from Washington University
  • Languages: English

San Francisco doesn’t have a revenue problem; we have a spending problem. In order to address the projected $800 million budget shortfall, we need more scrutiny around where our leaders are spending taxpayer money.

On Day 1 in office, I’ll demand an audit of outside vendors (comprising approximately $5.8 billion of the fiscal year 2024 budget) to remove duplicative services. I’ll also work to establish a clear framework of performance metrics to ensure we are investing in proven outcomes. We need to find efficiencies in our existing city revenues before levying incremental taxes to get our city back on the right financial footing.

District 5 candidate Allen Jones

Allen Jones

  • Job: Activist
  • Age: 67
  • Residency: Tenant in District 5 since November 2021
  • Transportation: Wheelchair
  • Education: Teaching Bible studies at juvenile hall
  • Languages: English

SURPRISE! People are crying about Mayor Breed’s $15.9 billion budget proposal. Closing a nearly $800 million shortfall will bring out 799,999,999 critics.

I support Mayor London Breed. And yes, I tried to get members of the Board of Supervisors to fund public electric wheelchair charging stations. In fact, all city agencies that have heard of this idea support it. But some supervisors are “mad” about Breed’s budget proposal. Really? In life, I might have to eat less, which strangely might cost more, trying to lose weight. If grandstanding and crying fixes a budget, I’ll supply the soapbox and tissue.

This story was updated with a response from Autumn Looijen.

The order of candidates is rotated each week. Answers are capped at 100 words, and may be lightly edited for formatting, spelling, and grammar. If you have questions for the candidates, please let us know at eleni@missionlocal.com.

Read the rest of the District 5 questions here, and the entire “Meet the Candidates” series here. Illustrations for the series by Neil Ballard.

You can register to vote via the sf.gov website.


Meet the Candidates: San Francisco’s District 5 supervisor race

Meet the Candidates: San Francisco’s District 5 supervisor race



REPORTER. Eleni reports on policing in San Francisco. She first moved to the city on a whim more than 10 years ago, and the Mission has become her home. Follow her on Twitter @miss_elenius.More by Eleni Balakrishnan

Source: https://missionlocal.org/2024/06/meet-district-5-candidates-week20-budget/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=Mission+Local&utm_campaign=a7cc654876-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2024_06_20_04_43&utm_term=0_-a7cc654876-[LIST_EMAIL_ID]

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