Green Party's Matt Gonzalez:
By Todd Chretien | December 5, 2003 | Page 2
AS SOCIALIST Worker went to press, opinion polls showed the Green Party's Matt Gonzalez and Democrat Gavin Newsom running neck and neck going into the December 9 run-off election for San Francisco's new mayor. The Gonzalez campaign has energized hundreds of young volunteers and broken through the myth that ordinary people don't want a real left-wing alternative to the corporate Democrats.
In an important development, local unions--such as HERE Local 2, SEIU Locals 790 and 535 and UFCW Local 101--have endorsed Gonzalez, abandoning their tradition of only endorsing Democrats. Gonzalez campaign volunteers gained labor's support by joining striking grocery workers from Los Angeles on informational picket lines outside Safeway stores in San Francisco.
Newsom is a rich businessman who bought himself a political career. The centerpiece of his campaign has been his proposal for jailing homeless people for panhandling. Yet shamefully, a number of liberal Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and San Francisco liberal figure Angela Alioto, are all out for Newsom.
These same liberal Democrats often claim to agree with the Green Party's progressive policies, but say that it is "impractical" to build a third party for fear of allowing the Republicans to win elections. But in an election where there is no Republican danger, the liberal Democrats are backing the more conservative Newsom over the progressive Gonzalez simply to try to prevent the Greens from winning an election.
Last week, incumbent Democratic Mayor Willie Brown went so far as to smear Gonzalez, who is Latino, as a "racist" because Gonzalez opposed some of Brown's patronage appointments. Gonzalez authored a successful referendum to raise the city's minimum wage to $8.50, speaks out forcefully against the occupation of Iraq and supports granting undocumented immigrant workers the right to vote in school board elections.
He has made mistakes. As president of the Board of Supervisors (San Francisco's city council), Gonzalez opposed amending the city charter to dedicate more money to public schools. He also touts his "fiscal responsibility"--and supported an $80,000 hike in the supervisors' salaries, while city workers took a 7 percent wage cut and other concessions to balance the budget.
But Gonzalez is much better than Newsom on the important issues and, most importantly, he sees his third-party campaign as part of building a mass movement that can challenge the growing gap between rich and poor. Matt Gonzalez deserves your vote.