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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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ElectionsCampaign TrailHundreds rally for Preston kick-off

Hundreds rally for Preston kick-off

Spirited event seeks to draw a clear line between the billionaires and the rest of the city.

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Sup. Dean Preston kicked off his re-election campaign today with at least 250 people joining an energetic rally in the Golden Gate Park panhandle.

Preston gave a strong speech that not only talked about his accomplishments but contrasted him to the billionaire class that is trying to take over the city.

“We have been heard,” he said. “Elon Musk has called for my imprisonment. Garry Tan wants some of us dead. The truth is, they are afraid of the changes we have been fighting for and winning.”

At least 250 people were on hand. Photo by Eddy Hernandez

He said that “a handful of billionaires are flooding San Francisco with money. They want to take power away from people like you. Their vision for the city doesn’t include the people who currently live in our neighborhoods. They envision gutting rent control, crushing unions, and banishing the poor.”

As with Connie Chan’s kickoff last week, labor was out in force, with many of the city’s major unions sending representatives. Kim Tavaglione, the executive director of the Labor Council, said the group only rarely issues early endorsements—but Preston earned one.

Preston, elected in 2019, barely had time to move into his office before the pandemic hit and changed San Francisco forever. But he noted that he pushed to move unhoused people into hotel rooms, saving hundreds of lives, and worked to open parklets and keep small businesses alive.

He spoke of “economic recovery for out neighborhoods, not just downtown.”

Affordable housing has always been Preston’s top focus: “I voted for 30,000 new homes,” he said, “and 86 percent of them have been affordable.”

A large new affordable housing project is under construction at the corner of Haight and Stanyan.

Christin Evans, the owner of Booksmith and a longtime community activist and leader, put it this way

Since Dean has taken office we’ve cut storefront vacancies from 32 to 14 on Haight Street. We have a huge all-affordable housing complex going up in the neighborhood finally, and street homelessness is way, way down. The best thing is that now the neighborhood is communicating and working together—we’re out of survival mode, and Supervisor Preston’s leadership has been a big part of our success. 

Preston’s main opponent, Bilal Mahmood, is going to try to make public safety a central issue. Preston said he’s worked on “real public safety initiatives, bringing community ambassadors to every part of D5, and it’s making a difference.”

There was a bit of irony in the event, and it made for an interesting political moment.

Ammiano, Peskin, and Preston.

The rally at Baker and Fell was held under a statue of William McKinley, a terrible anti-labor president who was one of the fathers of US imperialism.

Preston acknowledged that, and said that “we’re going to get rid of this McKinley statue” and replace it with an electrified stage for live music in the park.

“We may need a new mayor,” he said.

At that point, former Sup. Tom Ammiano pointed to Sup. Aaron Peskin, both of whom were standing behind Preston. The crowd cheered loudly.

“President Peskin is here,” Preston said. “But that’s a whole different rally.”

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Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.

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