Another look at Olague

Yes, the mayor appointed her -- but look closer and you may find something to like about the D5 supervisor


OPINION As Election Day nears, the chaotic contest for supervisor in District 5 represents a critical decision for progressive voters in the district — and for activists across the city.

The campaign for Julian Davis, the original first choice of many left/liberal activists, has imploded and is now in free-fall. The repercussions of the board's vote on Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi continues to reverberate, nowhere more than in District 5. And respected progressive advocates who had worked together for decades are now estranged, even as our city faces urgent challenges of great complexity.

I don't know Davis or the other candidates in District 5, but I sat down with Supervisor Christina Olague last month after she received the endorsement of the San Francisco Labor Council. It was our first meeting, and as I rode the Metro to Civic Center I was, frankly, not expecting much. Like many San Franciscans, I could not help but be skeptical of anyone appointed by Mayor Ed Lee. I had heard of decisions made and votes cast by Olague that troubled me. I was not expecting to like her, but friends of mine in the labor movement encouraged me to speak with her directly and I'm glad I did.

I started to like Olague as we walked from her office to find some lunch. Before we got to a restaurant I was already asking her questions about some of the tougher choices she's made. We didn't agree on everything, of course, but I was struck by her candor, her common sense, and pragmatic progressive values.

Christina Olague grew up in a migrant labor community in the Central Valley. She survived the often-brutal working conditions and poverty that define the lives of some of the most cruelly exploited workers in the United States. She became active in politics early in life, put herself through school, and moved to San Francisco, where she became a familiar figure in the city's grassroots community.

As a Latina, and as a member of the LGBT community, Olague's life experiences shaped her politics and basic values. Her candidacy is important in a city that seems every day more destined to become an enclave reserved exclusively for only the very wealthy and most privileged.

I endorsed Olague several weeks before she cast her vote on the struggle between Lee and Mirkarimi. I would have continued to support her regardless of her vote that day. But the bitterness of that controversy, and the nature of the scandal now surrounding Davis, underscore the need for progressives to heal, to repair our alliances and to demonstrate political leadership grounded in respect for all our communities.

The UNITE HERE International Union represents hotel, restaurant, casino, food service and laundry workers throughout the US and Canada. The majority of our members — the people I work for — are immigrant women. In our union we stand together: LGBT and straight, brown and black and white, immigrant and native-born. In all our actions we seek to build power for working people and to strengthen the broader movement for peace and social justice.

San Francisco has seen many changes in the 40 years since I first hitchhiked here as a youth from Arizona. While the political landscape has certainly altered, I reject the notion that the city's voters have moved irrevocably to the right. I do believe that progressive activists must do better in communicating our values and our vision for this beautiful and unique city we all love. I think Olague could be an important part of that process.

On behalf of the members of UNITE HERE Local 2, and as a longtime organizer for LGBT and worker rights, I ask my many friends in District 5 to take another look at Christina Olague and to consider casting your vote for her on November 6.

Cleve Jones is a longtime activist and the founder of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt


Ridiculous. The author says he now works with an organization supporting Olague. He states that he hasn't even bothered to know Davis or any of the other candidates, then dismisses them anyway. That's creepy. Why ignore the report at: And where's the evidence Davis's campaign isn't actually expanding with public support after the obvious smear? What a nutty op-ed, selecting this for publication is an insult to intelligent San Franciscans. Sad to see the author exploited after his past years of service.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2012 @ 7:59 am

As owner of The Guardian, I feel it is not only appropriate but essential to point out that The Guardian/ does NOT support nor endorse Christina Olague as a candidate in D5. The opinion expressed in the Opinion piece are that of Cleve Jones and not of The Guardian,, the owner, management and staff.

Our endorsements for District 5 Supervisor remain Thea Selby and John Rizzo. Todd Vogt

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2012 @ 9:54 am

Cleve Jones is an ICON in SF. He was Harvey Milks organizer, didn't you read the book or see the movie?Thank you for your words of wisdom, Cleve Jones. It's helpful for me as a voter in district 5 to hear about Olague's personal story.

I feel rent control is in danger! We need a representative in D5 with a track record on tenant rights! This is a HUGE deal to me. I will not take the up coming election lightly, we have a lot to lose.

London Breed & Thea Selby will not protect rent control or tenant rights. I truly believe this. And John Rizzo & Selby are NOT a renters.

Also, very disappointed to see such a hateful comment posted by the NEW owner of the examiner and apparently my dearest SFBG, which up until this very moment HAD my full respect and attention. Clearly this Todd V fellow is a bias political new comer who cares nothing for the people of San Francisco or district 5. I wonder who has his ear???? I've read some of his stuff, not very objective. Must be BFF's with Davis and be extremely bitter about making that call.

D5 Voter and former SFBG reader

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2012 @ 10:43 am

It is simply not reasonable to conclude that Davis or Rizzo would oppose rent control or that the fact that someone owns their home instead of rents would oppose rent control. These bogus assumptions, prejudices based on home tenure status or income, contribute much to progressive marginalization.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 24, 2012 @ 11:37 am

Is it reasonable to conclude that Thea Selby is bad for renters and rent control based on her successfully performing a MOVE IN EVICTION? As one of her supporters have stated in a comment on the endorsement section of the SFBG?


Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2012 @ 12:06 pm

I am not impressed by Selby.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 24, 2012 @ 12:19 pm

Also, I heard that Davis's mom is his landlord, and not to be mean, does he work, like for actual money? If elected, he would represent a district that are not privileged and need to work/rent.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2012 @ 12:38 pm

Is his political stance a rebellion against his privileged background? Must be nice.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2012 @ 12:56 pm

The poorer and less-educated, the better! That how I vote.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2012 @ 3:56 pm

The poorer and less-educated, the better! That how I vote.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2012 @ 3:56 pm

Um... I'm friends with one of her tenants and they have rent control on some pretty spectacular apartments... she's never jacked it on him. being a landlord doesn't immediately make you anti-rent control.

Posted by waltin on Oct. 24, 2012 @ 2:25 pm

It is not like rent control is discretionary...

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2012 @ 10:15 am

Is this true? Did she have the audacity to move into a home that she owns?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2012 @ 10:08 am

and that "behind every great fortunes is a great crime".

They love losers though.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2012 @ 10:24 am

Bruce claims he always owns his own posts here.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2012 @ 9:37 am

Thank you for writing this opinion piece. It was important for me as voter to hear her story. I feel rent control is in danger in my district. No other candidates has the track record that Supervisor Olague has on tenant issues I will definitely be

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2012 @ 9:59 am

Olague made her Mirkarimi vote for entirely political reasons at the expense of a vulnerable population. I am deeply disappointed in her conduct and feel that she still operates at the behest of the mayor. I look forward to D5 voters making a better choice and finding a better alternative to the insider appointee.

Posted by somers on Oct. 24, 2012 @ 10:01 am

I'm shocked that an article in the SFBG even mentions there are other candidates in the race. Oh wait, the author states he doesn't know the other candidates. Right. That is a great way to cast a smart vote for Supervisor. Get to know only one candidate and vote for them. There are actually eight candidates in the race and I suggest SFBG readers who live in District 5 take another look at all of them. And it might even benefit SFBG readers if a "reporter" asked the other candidates their concerns with Olague. And it's not her ability to make a political expedient vote.

Posted by Andrew Resignato on Oct. 24, 2012 @ 12:36 pm

What, exactly, are the often-brutal working conditions that Christina Olague herself survived?

Posted by Judy on Oct. 24, 2012 @ 2:48 pm

Hey guys -- Corey here, volunteer coordinator for the Olague Campaign. What a beautiful, heartfelt piece by Cleve. Thanks for that. Yes, he works for UNITE HERE, an ally of Christina in the movement for the working folks and underrepresented, as she's an ally to all of us.

Wanted to clarify in case there's any misunderstanding: Christina and our campaign are running to win for the values of the progressive movement: tenant rights, worker rights, lgbt rights, senior services, effective education that works for all of us including addressing the achievement gap, locally run, sustainable businesses, effective public transportation and safe streets, affordable housing, and experienced leadership that really listens to the diversity of community voices in district 5.

We share these values with some, if not most (though certainly not all), of the other candidates running in this race. I encourage any comrades equally passionate about these issues as Cleve, myself, or Christina, to use all your ranked choices to positive effect. Even if your preferred candidate doesn't win, we must make sure to keep D5 progressive! I say Christina #1, obviously but proudly. She is an incredible, thoughtful and principled warrior for justice, and has proven that over and over again. But even if your progressive choice is another candidate, make sure to share the love. This is not about ego and personality. This is about the issues, the movement, our communities, our city. We are one movement.

Let's bring this home! And come volunteer -- our voter outreach program is thriving, but we need you to really make it shine!!! contact me for more info at 510-684-7275. Corey

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2012 @ 8:05 am

Wow, that was a lovely note, Olague person! You guys have class.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2012 @ 9:02 am

Good to know that Cleve Jones can be relied upon to never be an independent thinker.

Does MUMC oppose making the symbol of all LGBT people living in SF Castro - yes they do. And because they do, so does Cleve.

Is there a bandwagon being arranged to march Olague into City Hall despite months of criticism of her and her appointment and despite the recent history of left wing minded supervisors representing the interests of District 5 - leaders that have NOT been associated with previous Mayoral machines?

There sure is all of a sudden...and if there is a way for Cleve to be part of that movement he'll sign on!

And he won't even bother meeting with any other candidates in the race because he really doesn't give a shit about the district anyway.

He doesn't live in D5. He's just using his gay card to support the sudden darling of the unions.

Thanks, Cleve! You've just convinced me to vote for anyone else.

Posted by Patrick Connors on Oct. 25, 2012 @ 11:03 am

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