Debra Walker BOS 6 questionnaire

Debra Walker BOS 6 questionnaire

Postby Jeff_W on Mon Aug 16, 2010 6:59 pm

Candidate name:

Debra Walker

Contact person:

Suzanne Rueker

Mail address:

1017 Market Street



Email address:

Web address:

Anticipated Budget:

Public Financing Cap

Funds raised to date:

Over $100,000

Percentage of donations under $50

Please write a brief response (less than 150 words) to each question. You will have additional opportunities to address these issues.

1. Why are you running? Why should we vote for you?

I have worked and lived in District 6 for over twenty five years and during that time I have fought to make our neighborhoods a better, safer place for tenants, families and small business. I want to continue my advocacy for District 6 as Supervisor by working to provide affordable housing along with tenant protections, sustainable development, healthcare for all, strong education and after-school programs, quality jobs, small business protections and reliable public transit.

District 6 is ground zero for development in this city and I am committed to ensuring that as the district grows and changes, we protect our local small business, provide true community benefits like parks, bike lane, and bus service, and create quality jobs for San Franciscans who need them most.

I am the only candidate with the experience and first-hand knowledge of the challenges that face District 6. I am passionate about this city and would be honored to be able to continue my work as supervisor. The people I have worked with and know my commitment to improving our city and this district are endorsing me for Supervisor – Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, State Senator Leland Yee, San Francisco Teachers, the California Nurses Association, the Sierra Club, the San Francisco Labor Council, the San Francisco Democratic Party and many others.

2. What sets you apart from your opponents?

There are many candidates in the race for D6 supervisor I consider to be personal friends and respect their advocacy on behalf of residents across the city. However, I believe that having a history and roots in the neighborhoods that you represent is critical to being able to represent them effectively. My experience of working and living in District 6 for the last 25 years gives me a unique perspective about the needs of District 6 and how best to tackle them.

In my twenty five years as a resident and small business owner I have had the pleasure of working with community organizations in every corner of the district, including SOMCAN, Alliance for a Better D6, Central City Democrats, Hospitality House, SRO Collaborative, Coalition on Homelessness, NOMNIC, West SoMa Task Force, Somarts, Bindlestiff, Counterpulse, Luggage Store Gallery, South Beach and Mission Bay Residents Associations, Rincon Hill Neighborhood Association, Northeast Mission Business Association, Northeast Mission Residents Association. We have worked together to better our neighborhoods and having these relationships will be essential when serving the residents of D6.

3. San Francisco for Democracy is committed to grassroots involvement. Please explain how you are involving ordinary citizens in your campaign?

Ordinary citizens are involved at every level of my campaign. Working in District 6 for 25 years I have met and worked with hundreds of individuals to better our neighborhoods and I am honored that so many D6 residents have decided to support my candidacy and get involved. Many of these individuals have never been involved in political campaigns in the past and are now walking precincts, displaying house signs, putting signs in their shop windows, calling voters, reaching out to their friends and neighbors. I am proud that so many first-time campaigners have joined my campaign, and I am 100% committed to a grassroots campaign and look forward to engaging residents from every corner of D6.

4. San Francisco for Democracy endorses fiscally responsible and socially progressive candidates. Please give examples of why you fit these criteria?

I have spent nine years as a member of the City’s Building Inspection Commission, four of them as President. In that time, the Department of Building Inspection, like all city departments, has been hit hard by declining revenues and damaging state and federal cuts. In response, we cut costs and we initiated small fees that have helped us balance the budget and are actually beginning to rehire workers. Additionally I helped spearhead and effort to automate permitting so communication between departments – Public Works, Public Utilities, Planning, Health – becomes automatic. These small improvements that assist customer service and hold down cost are the sort of things that we can do across the city.

On a larger scale, there are things we have done, and should continue to do to rationalize our city budget process. Last November I supported and worked to pass Proposition A, a charter amendment that put into place two-year budgeting for all city departments, a requirement for five-year financial planning, and increased reserves to supplement the Rainy Day Fund. If we don’t plan and save for tough fiscal times like we are experiencing now, we end up cutting services sharply when they are needed most. Smart fiscal planning will allow the city to help cushion the impact of future economic downturns, and, as a Supervisor, I will work to guarantee our budgets take a long view by requiring increased reserves for this purpose.

5. What public safety strategies currently being implemented by the San Francisco Police department do you agree, or disagree with? What will be your agenda regarding public safety, if elected supervisor?

I am supportive of community foot patrols. I helped to organize a group of neighbors, small businesses and law enforcement to address issues around nightclub safety in D6, so I recognize firsthand what can be accomplished when everyone works together. I believe that by bringing law enforcement and the community together we can foster a greater sense of community and communication. Part of my agenda will be to support programs that give kids alternatives to drugs, gang life and crime, like job training and college preparedness programs. I also plan on working to help the CJC as well as Homeless Connect to integrate more effectively with our community programs to make them all more efficient and effective. I also believe that by working to create jobs. I also believe that by working to create jobs and working with individuals to get them trained to enter our skilled workforce we can help to ease tensions created by our economic crisis.

6. What do you believe is the correct percentage of units to be set aside for affordable housing, when property is redeveloped? Please explain why you believe that percentage is correct?

According to our agreement with the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) we are supposed to be building enough affordable housing in accordance with our population needs. In San Francisco that means that 70% of our rental housing stock should be available below market rate. Obviously, this is not a realistic target but we should do whatever we can to forward policies to come closer to that goal. I believe we must be creative about finding funding to support affordable housing. It is prudent to work with developers to ensure that they have the funding and resources to build the affordable housing and infrastructure mitigation we need to support affordable housing.

7. Public transportation is dysfunctional in the City and County of San Francisco. Do you agree with that statement? If not, why? If so, what is your analysis of why it is dysfunctional? What will you do to make public transportation functional if elected?

Clearly, our public transportation system needs a lot of work, but these problems are not easily solved. As a person who doesn’t own a car and who relies on public transportation and bike lanes, I know we’re not doing enough. If elected, I will fight to fully fund our Muni system and make it more user friendly so that people can count on our public transportation running on time. I also know the city can do more to protect riders from violent crime and petty theft taking place on platforms and on Muni vehicles. People must feel safe before they will be willing to get out of their cars. Additionally, we need to do a better job encouraging high-density affordable housing close to our major transit corridors. I also support recent efforts that call for more equal oversight of the MTA between the Mayor’s office and the Board of Supervisors, giving a more balanced approach to governing the board and its budget.

I also look forward to assisting in the implementation of our citywide bicycle plan just recently cleared from Judge Busch’s injunction. It’s an embarrassment that we haven’t been able to move forward on our bike plan for so long, and we must speed forward now that we have the green light.

8. What do you view as the top three issues in District 6? What are your solutions for these issues? Do you believe these issues are consistent throughout the city? If they are not consistent, what do you view as the issues outside your district that should be addressed in the coming years? Do you have solutions for those issues?

My top 3 priorities for D6 and the city as a whole are very similar. Though, in different areas of town the needs are in different priority order.

1. Development and the economy. Over the past ten years, District 6 has seen more new units of housing developed than any other part of town. I believe that’s a good thing – as old uses like light-industry diminish, we must address current needs, like housing. But we must also make sure we have the space for our economic engine, to actual produce things and create jobs for our residents and to create the revenue we need to keep our city running.

The obvious benefits to bringing sustainable development to District 6 are robust small business opportunities (including jobs and economic development), affordable housing for low-income people and the middle class as well as real community benefits. My promise to voters is that I will make sure that new development works for everyone. The challenges we face in fighting for sustainable development are abundant. And as we green-light new developments, we need to make sure that they bring with them the amenities that make up a neighborhood – new parks, new bike lanes, adequate funding for our struggling public transit system, childcare other services,, space for cultural events and businesses – all of the things that will keep San Francisco a thriving sustaining city.

District 6 has more mixed uses than any other district in San Francisco. Through good planning and smarter land use, we can mitigate some of the conflicts we experience in our public space and plan a District that thrives and a city that works.

2. Public Safety. Street safety is a priority – both for individual security and the vitality and morale of the community. I believe foot patrols go a long way towards a solid and sustainable community policing solution. Additionally, I support incentives that encourage our police officers to live in the neighborhoods they work in. I also believe that by creating a greater sense of community and giving residents places to congregate safely we can combat negative influences. Additionally, we need to restore funding to drop-in centers and other services like drug treatment and child care. Finally, we must get serious about dangerous crime. Let us focus our resources on drug dealing and the crime surrounding those activities. I will conduct neighborhood meetings that address these problems and give residents an opportunity to share ideas, and encourage cooperative programming with our police.
3. Affordable housing and Tenants issues. Making sure that the land use changes in San Francisco and D6 benefit everyone – including low income persons, and middle class families. One way we have had success is fighting for new ‘inclusionary housing’ rules for new development that require developers build affordable housing units as they produce market rate units. I helped fight to make sure that those units be made affordable to buyers across the socioeconomic scale – from those who make significantly less than average, to those that make just about average. In addition, I fought to require that a portion of those new, affordable units be large enough to house families. While developers are frequently interested in meeting their requirements by building ‘affordable’ studios and one-bedrooms, I fought alongside other land-use advocates to make sure new developments include 2 and 3 bedroom units suitable for young families. However this is not enough and we need to work together to forward sufficient funding for building housing for folks in every income level.

9. What is your position regarding privatization in the public sector?

I do not support contracting out public jobs with those from the private sector – public work should be done by public employees. However, I do support allowing nonprofits who are already serving particular communities to be allowed to continue doing outreach as new programs are instituted across the city. A good example of this would be the Code Enforcement Outreach Program and the SRO Collaborative.

Do you favor the use of Project Labor Agreements in the public sector? Please explain your position.

Yes, I do. PLAs help establish working conditions over diverse groups of construction projects, rather than approaching each in a piecemeal fashion. Perhaps most importantly, they allow the City and labor organizations to come to agreements up front, before a body of work is bid out, about prevailing wages and local hire. When the City agrees to pay prevailing wage on large bodies of work, it helps lift wages for construction trades in the private sector as well. And when the city and trade union cooperate to help more San Franciscans get work on construction projects, those wages help boost our local economy when they are spent at our stores and businesses. PLAs are an important starting place for achieving these two goals.

10. What is your position regarding Sit/Lie?

I am opposed – and have voted repeatedly against it in my capacity a member of the San Francisco Democratic Central Committee.

11. Do you believe San Francisco should be a Sanctuary city?

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