By Ron Flynn
Alice Board, Co-Chair
I am still reeling from the overwhelming turnout to our annual Pride Breakfast. Alice’s Pride Breakfast has become the place-to-be for everyone politician and City official on Pride Sunday. Having Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins as our keynote was a joy. Having her joined by Speaker pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, our own Senator Mark Leno and Assemblymember Phil Ting, Mayor Lee, and other state and local officials was amazing. Our list of Sponsors is included in this e-blast, as another thank you to everyone who made the event possible.
But the real joy, for me, was looking out over the room and seeing members from our entire community coming together for a giant get-together before heading out in separate directions to celebrate the day. For a couple of hours on Pride Sunday everyone mingled and chatted and, it appeared, really enjoyed each other’s company. Being able to great the space for the entire LGBT Community to come together in such a large and visible way is something Alice is very proud, and is something I will cherish for a long time.
We do not need to let that collective spirit dissipate so quickly. We can work together as the large, diverse and vibrant group that was in that room to accomplish great things this November. Alice has endorsed many candidates for the November elections (Kamala Harris, Betty Yee, David Chiu and Scott Wiener to name a few), and will meeting early next month to begin the process for more endorsements for November. Alice will work hard to ensure that our endorsed candidates get elected, look for Alice’s November slate card soon!
As a charted Democratic party, there are two statewide races that need our attention in the fall – races that we should all be able to agree upon. First, Alex Padilla faces Pete Peterson in a race for Secretary of State. Alice did not endorse in that race in the primary, where there were a number of viable Democrat candidates. Now that Senator Padilla is the Democratic flag-bearer in a close race with Republican Pete Peterson, it is time for all to get on board to support Senator Padilla. The same is true in the Controller’s race. Republican Ashley Swearengin received the most votes, while Alice endorsed candidate Betty Yee earned second place, squeaking out a victory over former Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez. As of the writing of this column, all votes had been counted and Betty Yee was 481 votes ahead out of approximately 4 million votes cast. Assemblymember Pérez has not asked to recount all votes, but instead has cherry-picked a few districts to try to close the gap. I still firmly support Betty Yee as the strongest candidate for this fiscal oversight position. But no matter what happens, Alice will need to work hard ensure the Controller’s office stays in Democrat hands. The entire community needs to work hard to ensure that the Controller’s office stays in Democrat hands, no matter who you endorsed in the primary. It is time for us to put aside differences and focus on the election at hand.
That said, the closeness of the Controller’s race makes two things crystal clear. First, California needs a better policy for recounting close races. Whether it is an automatic recount for races closer that 1% or a rule that all votes must be recounted if some are, the ad hoc nature of the precinct by precinct recount doesn’t have the “count every vote” aspect that ensures fair results. Second, every vote DOES count. Alice works hard to get every voter to the polls, and voters that Alice targeted with mailings and deliveries votes in large number. But overall, only 29.8% of registered votes in San Francisco voted June 3. Los Angeles County had the lowest turnout as 17% and statewide the average was 25.2%, but we can do better. Of the counties San Francisco size and larger, Santa Clara had the best turnout at 32.8%. We need to get out there and make sure that even more people vote in November.
So I will hang on to this Pride-filled feeling for a little while, and then ask you all to come back together to work hard to get out the vote in November!