My Lunch with Supervisor John Avalos and His Run for Mayor

My Lunch with Supervisor John Avalos and His Run for Mayor May 18, 2011

[photo: Luke Thomas]

Taking a little break from my normal blog content, I am going to get a little “local politics”and share with you the results of a lunch I had with Supervisor John Avalos from District 11 in San Francisco last month.

The church I serve has been located in the Excelsior District of San Francisco for the past couple of years and I have also lived in the nearby Ingleside and Oceanview districts for over 20 years.  Both as a local pastor and resident, I’ve been part of numerous community actions and neighborhood conversations in District 11. I will be leaving the church at the end of May so as I said my goodbyes to church folks, I decided to grab a meal with John as well.   While I am definitely entering a time of welcomed uncertainty, my next adventures will include, among other things, writing, speaking, parenting and, as a direct result of this lunch, will now also include helping someone get elected to the office of mayor.

While I had inklings about a possible run by John, it was around this time that it was officially announced that he would be running for the office of mayor of San Francisco.  With the announcement as the backdrop of our time, much of our conversation was about this exciting new development for him and his family.

Cutting to the chase . . . by the end of our lunch it was clear that he is in it to win it, he feels called by his community to run for mayor and he can be trusted throughout it all.  So as I navigate my own professional life, let me tell you why at this point, I am really excited about the John Avalos for Mayor campaign and plan on dedicating some of my energy and time towards this race.

Why I am for John Avalos:

Conviction, Integrity and Commitment to what I believe in: Committed to redefining the nature of being a San Francisco “progressive” John has a heart for those who do not traditionally have a voice in citywide conversations.  I have seen him model a spirit of coalition building as a supervisor during large community gatherings as well as during more intimate conversations with just a few folks. With a foundation of his own life experiences and the support of people for whom he serves now, John is the the real deal when it comes to opening up conversations to more voices.  I also trust that he will support positive movements regarding public schools, immigration, and fiscal health.

Passion, Collegiality and Graciousness in working with others: I will admit, one of my initial reservations when I met John for the first time in 2008 was his close connection to Chris Daly. I have always agreed in principle with what Chris stood for, but like many others, have felt that his tactics, to put it mildly, were not always helpful.  But . . . anyone who has met John, knows that he is his own person so to paint the two politicians with the same brush in terms of personality and tactics is lazy and does a disservice to the unique presence that each offers to The City.  What impresses me the most about John is that he is passionate about issues, but one never gets he sense that he is driven by personal vindication or political gain.  His passion seems to fuel his ability to work with others in order to get things done, make visible that which needs to be seen and move together amidst valid disagreement.

Authenticity, Humanity and Humility about the entire endeavor: I honestly believe that running for Mayor was not on his radar until recently.  As one who has worked on campaigns, both in secular and church contexts, a lack of long-term strategizing, image making and political machine building is evident in these early stages of his campaign.  John’s authority and ride to the Mayor’s office will become a reality not as an assumed next political step, because of high-paid consultants or a slick marketing plan, but because many, many, many people in San Francisco believe in him. While he has clearly earned much respect for navigating the intricacies of City Hall including chairing the Budget Committee, he is trusted by so many because it is obvious that the political office does not define him. What makes John unique and draws people towards him is that he is defining the office based on the lives, concerns and dreams of the people who have elected him. I know that I will not always agree with everything that John does or supports, but I trust that he will be genuine in all that he does and will remain committed to the values and perspectives that have drawn so many to support his campaign.

John’s honest expression of communal convictions and his drive to do that which is right is not always politically safe or free from critique, but to do so is a sign of good leadership and I can get behind that type of leader.  I will be giving a significant amount of time to helping John get elected mayor working with his Social Media, Faith Community and Public School outreach and I am excited about what we will do as Team Avalos gets solidified.  If you would like to connect with John’s campaign:

I know others will be giving time and resources to other candidates in the growing field and, I for one lift up in prayer all of the candidates, their families and supporters.  This whole adventure takes a toll on one’s body, mind and spirit, so I have the greatest respect for those who are diving head first into the race.  I hope that the discourse about the issues facing San Francisco will be passionate, respectful and driven by a deep yearning to move together as a city and community.

Best of luck to you all.

While this post might not draw a lot of interaction from the patheos community, you can bet the the cross posting on SFGate has will be quite feisty.

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  • Gladys Gifford

    Bruce, you will be blessed in this effort.  What else is our calling, but to give voice to the voiceless and honor those deemed dishonorable?  Therefore, I support your decision to follow Christ into the political arena.  I know you will be learning many lessons and relying entirely on the Spirit for energy and focus.

  • he sounds great! i hope he gets there. the way you describe how his ride is going to be is similar to the way the amazing and wonderful kitty piercy became mayor of eugene, ore. yes, i know that the city sizes are different, but i see kitty’s race as just being a scaled down version of the one john avalos is facing. good luck! and hey, i have no idea where i’ll be next after i finish my phd next year, never know i could land in sfo. 🙂