As San Francisco's political environment changes, new players emerge, and new institutions are already starting to take shape. Last Thursday saw the debut of a new political organization in the City dedicated to tackling issues facing the eastern side of the city – the Eastern Neighborhoods Democratic Club.
Their launch party, held that evening at The Ramp restaurant in Mission Rock, attracted both established neighborhood and citywide political leadership, as well as a new generation of urban activists.
At its height the event easily had over 100 persons in attendance, including candidates for upcoming political races such as Board of Supervisors President and candidate for Mayor London Breed, former Supervisor and current Democratic Central Committee member Sophie Maxwell, as well as Mayoral candidates Angela Alioto and Amy Farah Weiss.
Shamann Walton, current President of the Board of Education and candidate for District 10 Supervisor also attended, as well as District 6 candidates Matt Haney, Sonja Trauss, and Christine Johnson, District 2 Supervisorial candidate Kat Anderson, and City College Board candidate Victor Olivieri.
Club President Bruce Agid, business development director at an energy consulting firm with a long record of political advocacy in District 6, including serving as a member of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority Citizens Advisory Committee, gave an opening address talking about the aims of the club.
Agid outlined the club's vision of advocating for what they describe as an “urbanist equity platform, with a focus on creating complete communities and keeping current residents and families in San Francisco while welcoming newcomers.” To this end, ENDC will work to "organize people who have not normally been engaged in the conversation" to increase overall voter turnout in Districts 3, 6, and 10.
He also described the over six months of collaborative work among founding members to hammer out the structure of the club. The ENDC plans on having 25 officer and director positions dedicated to different issues and constituencies in the Eastern Neighborhoods. 14 of those positions have been filled already, so leadership opportunities will be available to new members.
Assemblymember David Chiu, the night’s featured speaker, praised the club's leadership for “seizing the moment during this period of change,” and for "laying out an urbanist vision that really knits together communities.” Chiu described how he learned when he served as District 3 Supervisor that the Eastern neighborhoods, while incredibly diverse, but also had manifold issues in common, including the need for affordable housing, transit, and workforce development.
Chiu also talked about how the club’s vision dovetailed with his own legislative agenda, including an upcoming bill incentivizing construction of more housing near BART stations, as well as Regional Measure 3, the toll hike on Bay Area bridges for funding transit projects, which will appear in the June ballot.
Dion-Jay Brookter, Deputy Director of Young Community Developers and ENDC's Vice President of Communications and External Affairs, talked about the club's commitment to diversity and bringing people together to improve the City:
"…as a transplant here in San Francisco, and speaking with folks whose families have been here for four, five, or six generations, how we can sit down together, bridge that gap, and develop common perspectives about issues which are actually consistent among our three districts, boost our membership and get out the vote… One of the statistics that we looked at recently was the low voter turnout over the last two election cycles in both District 6 and District 10… We say no longer. We say working to educate our folks, really go out and get the vote, and we’re gonna do it. "
The Eastern Neighborhoods Democratic Club will be hosting events throughout the upcoming election seasons, including a mayoral forum. To find out more, you can contact Club President Bruce Agid at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website to sign up for notifications.
Photos by Mike Ege.
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