Four San Francisco incumbents who are uncontested and no statewide or federal contests portend possibly record-low voter turnout for the November 5, 2013 election. The biggest issue on the ballot is the 8 Washington St. development project (aka Propositions B and C), and the fact that it has featured a barrage of ads, rhetoric and hyperbole by both sides is turning many voters off. But that means your vote counts even more, so exercise your democratic right and make your high school U.S. government teacher proud.
This guide has information on where to vote and what San Francisco propositions and candidates you're voting on.
** WHERE AND HOW TO VOTE **
Avoid the rush on Election Day. Starting Oct. 7, you can vote early at the Department of Elections office in City Hall, outside Room 48:
Monday-Friday, Oct. 7-Nov. 4, from 8 am-5 pm.
Saturday & Sunday, Oct. 26 & 27 and Nov. 2 & 3, from 10 am-4 pm. Use Grove Street entrance only.
Vote by Mail
If you requested to vote by mail by October 29 and received a ballot, mail it in early, because the Department of Elections must receive it by 8 pm on Nov. 5. Or drop it off at any polling place before the close of voting on Nov. 5 (this includes City Hall; see "Vote Early" section above). Postmarks of Nov. 5 do not count.
Vote on Tuesday, Nov. 5
Polls open from 7 am-8 pm. Find your polling place, and vote there or at City Hall, Room 48.
** SAN FRANCISCO BALLOT **
SAN FRANCISCO CANDIDATES
- City Attorney: Dennis Herrera.
- Treasurer: Jose Cisneros.
- Assessor-Recorder: Carmen Chu. Mayor Ed Lee appointed her to the office in February 2013 to succeed Phil Ting, who was elected to the California Assembly.
- Supervisor, District 4: Katy Tang was appointed to the seat in February 2013 by Mayor Ed Lee. Opponent Ivan Seredni has done no campaigning.
SAN FRANCISCO BALLOT PROPOSITIONS
-- PROPOSITION A - RETIREE HEALTH CARE TRUST FUND
City employees pay a percentage of their salary into a Retiree Health Care Trust Fund, with the city also contributing a percentage. The system is meant to cover health care costs once the workers retire. As of 2010, according to city estimates, the cost of health benefits for current and future retirees is $4.4 billion, and only a fraction of that has been set aside.
Prop A prevents the use of the Retiree Health Care Trust Fund for purposes other than retiree health care (presently, the fund can be used as of 2020 for any city expenses). Until the fund can cover all future retiree health care costs, payments from the fund would be allowed only if the city's retiree health care costs are more than 10 percent of the city's payroll expenses in a given year, and would be limited to a maximum of 10 percent of the trust fund balance.
With Prop A's provisions, officials estimate that in about 30 years, the city would be able to fully cover its $4.4 billion liability. The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to put the measure on the ballot.
Arguments For and Proponents: Helps ensure that the fund pre-funds retiree health benefits and is not diverted to other uses. It would eliminate the city's $4.4 billion retiree health care liability by around 2043. Mayor Ed Lee and the entire Board of Supervisors; San Francisco Chamber of Commerce; San Francisco firefighters, police officers and retiree organizations; San Francisco Chronicle; San Francisco Bay Guardian; San Francisco Examiner.
Arguments Against and Opponents: The proposition does nothing to increase the overall funding for retiree health benefits and won't protect taxpayers from rising health care costs. It doesn't address the inequality between employees hired previously and those hired now. Libertarian Party of San Francisco.
-- PROPOSITION D - PRESCRIPTION DRUG PURCHASING
This is a non-binding declaration of policy urging San Francisco officials and agencies to reduce the city's cost of prescription drugs. (The city buys prescription drugs dispensed at San Francisco General Hospital and other city clinics). The city should continue to negotiate prices directly with pharmaceutical manufacturers, and San Francisco's state and congressional representatives should propose legislation to cut by one-third the drug prices paid by all government entities.
Arguments For and Proponents: Costs of prescription drugs, especially those for treating AIDS/HIV, have been soaring. The proposition brings attention to the issue and expresses San Franciscans' concern. The Board of Supervisors except for John Avalos; California senator Mark Leno and assemblyman Phil Ting; AIDS Healthcare Foundation; San Francisco Chronicle; San Francisco Bay Guardian; San Francisco Examiner.
Arguments Against and Opponents: Non-binding policy statements do not belong on the ballot. San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR).