News & Research Archive

San Francisco's Pending Mayor Race: Is Anybody Running?

Jun 21, 2011


As a native San Franciscan, I have lived through a variety of mayors, some good and some bad. Over the years, San Francisco has seen leaders arise out of tragedy. Joe Alioto, who I regard as one of our best mayors, entered the mayor's race and won after the leading candidate, Gene McAteer, died prior to the election. Diane Feinstein, who unsuccessfully ran for mayor several times, became mayor after the murder of Mayor George Moscone. Today, San Francisco is facing some tough times that require a strong leader to guide us. A number of candidates have entered the race making it one of the most crowded mayor races since George Moscone was elected in the 1970's. Yet, with an election set for November, it has been one of the quietest races in recent memory. No one candidate has stepped up to take the lead or created excitement about his or her candidacy.

San Francisco has had a number of races over the years that have seen two or three strong candidates run for office against each other. These campaigns led to spirited debates about how these candidates would lead and how they would address the issues of the time; this gave San Francisco a choice as to the direction we wanted our city to go. Today, our candidates are silent as to the issues affecting our city. With a budget deficit that could cripple the city for years and the implementation of the Eastern Neighborhood zoning district scheduled for January, our candidates for Mayor are far too quiet as to where they will lead us.

Politics have changed in our city. Today's politicians take their direction more from special interest groups rather than voicing their own opinions. If a politician has the guts to take a stand there will be a special interest group waiting to tear them apart. Jeff Adachi comes to mind in his stand on pension reform. Whether you believe he is right or wrong, credit should be given for the courage he has shown to start a discussion on an important issue for our city. Yet, when speaking to insiders, they will tell you that if Adachi were to run for anything he would be met with serious opposition and a war chest ready to be spent in order to defeat him.

Is this what we have come to be as a society? Instead of encouraging and allowing fair and ethical discussion of issues, we respond with aggression and scare tactics when our beliefs are challenged. This is the cause of what is keeping our candidates for mayor quiet: fear.

Our current mayor has been highly effective as our interim mayor. He has consistently provided leadership on some very important issues, yet he is not interested in running in this election. Popular belief is that his success has been tied to his decision not to run for mayor. Others believe that if he ran for office he would have to negotiate with these special interest groups and become a less effective mayor. 

Strong political leadership is not easy to find anymore. A friend of mine who has been in politics for years said something recently that hit it home. ‘In politics, people who you think are your friends are your friends today and your enemies tomorrow, but your enemies are always your enemies.’ We need a leader to rise quickly that understands this environment and has the guts to take a stand. I still have enough faith in our city that if such a leader were to arise, we would be strong enough to actually elect him or her.


Written by: Hans Hansson


Hans Hansson is President of Starboard TCN Worldwide Real Estate Services as well as a member of the Board of Directors for TCN Worldwide Real Estate. Hans has been an active broker for over 26 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and specializes in office leasing and investments. If you have any questions or comments please email or call him at (415) 765-6897. You may also check out his website,

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