More than a dozen activists gathered in the Golden Gate Park Panhandle today as “Our Revolution,” a political organization founded by Bernie Sanders, announced its endorsement for Dean Preston for Supervisor in District 5.
The backing of the Sanders group could be significant: When Sanders showed up to endorse Jane Kim for state Senate in the spring, it gave her campaign a huge boost that allowed her to finish first in the primary.
Sanders was immensely popular among progressive San Franciscans, and D5 is one of the most progressive districts in the city. Although Sanders himself wasn’t on hand, the backing of his organization can only help Preston establish himself as the progressive standard-bearer in the race.
Peter Kilgallen, a registered nurse with Kaiser in San Francisco and a member of the California Nurses Association, spoke about Preston’s support for affordable housing and his advocacy for tenants rights: “There’s always a nursing shortage that happens and it is really hard to retain nurses in San Francisco. What happens is that a lot of people will come in but they don’t stay at Kaiser San Francisco because they can’t afford to rent or live in San Francisco.”
Kilgallen spoke about Preston’s work on protecting rent control: “Because of Dean’s work I was able to retain my apartment here in San Francisco and keep living here.”
Supporters spoke about how Preston’s work has helped contribute to economic justice. Deepa Varma, executive director of the SF Tenants Union, spoke about why the Tenants Union is supporting Preston: “Housing justice is economic justice, it doesn’t matter if we raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, $20 an hour or $25 an hours if the rent can go up to $5,000 a month,” Varma said “We were so excited to learn that Dean Preston is running for supervisor in district 5 because Dean Preston is Mr. Tenants Rights. Dean Preston is the person we go to for advice ourselves.”
Preston told 48 Hills that housing is one of his top three priorities: “I want to establish a right to counsel for any tenant who receives an eviction notice in San Francisco. I also want to ban predatory rent gauging, the double and triple digits rent increases that we see recently from properties that are exempt from rent control or other loopholes that the land lords use. My goal is to build at least 2000 affordable units,” he said.
Activists referenced the Panhandle battle as one of their inspirations for their efforts against other development plans and the reason why the choose the location for the announcement.
Preston vowed to take over what he referred to as the establishment at City Hall as he spoke about the endorsement from Bernie supporters: “We are taking on the establishment at City Hall in a big way, we taking on the mayor, we are taking on the board president, we are taking on the big money interests that have taken over city hall and these days are getting everything they want from city hall at the expense of our neighborhoods.” Preston asked for Bernie supporters to help with the campaign and promised a victory: “We are going to be the surprise winners of the race,” Preston said as the crowd cheered.