JANUARY 14, 2016 — This past Wednesday a who’s who of fresh-faced politicos packed into the Women’s Building for the consummate game of inside baseball that was the San Francisco Young Democrats board election. Usually the (unbelievably boring to 99.95% of the world) process of determining who sits on the boards of the city’s 35 chartered democratic clubs would be lucky to draw out a couple dozen people. On Wednesday night, however, nearly 300 formally dressed under-40-somethings waited in a line that snaked down a full flight of stairs to cast their ballot for five board leadership positions. Is there anything that bowtie clad San Franciscan’s won’t wait in line for?
The reason for the gigantic turnout was a heated election that pitted a “City Unity” slate headed up by existing SFYD Prez Diane Le against a “Young Bold and Blue” slate which featured mostly new faces to the organization. The subplot here is that there were strong whispers that the YB&B slate was organized to usher in leadership that would have brought SFYD further to the right – especially on housing issues. It’s worth nothing that this is saying something because SFYD tends to be a bit more moderate as is, though apparently still a little too ‘San Francisco liberal’ for some folks.
When you added an SFBARF push on behalf of the more conservative YB&B slate, and the expected response from housing activists for City Unity, you ended up with everybody who was anybody jammed into a steamy upstairs room awkwardly avoiding eye contact with their rival faction. In a repeat of what happened when SFBARF attempted a coup of the local Sierra Club late last year, the takeover was unsuccessful and the City Unity slate won all five board slots.
Every position but Pope is going to be on the ballot in 2016, so this has to be viewed as a victory for progressives who have a lot at stake this November and who were organizing along with some more moderate politicos to help get the City Unity slate elected. SFYD’s endorsements are important and they can certainly move the needle in close races. That said, in addition to voting in the City Unity slate the assembled SFYD members also gave their nod to Scott Wiener over Jane Kim in the State Senate race — so it may be a little early for us to pat ourselves on the back.