District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty is running for Mayor of San Francisco. If he wins, he’d be the first gay — or, as he clarifies — openly gay man to hold the post.

He’s as San Francisco as they come, in that he’s a one man melting pot. An East Coast transplant, Dufty’s spent most of his professional life under the mentorship of or close to minorities — Shirley Chisholm, Julian Dixon, Mayor Willie Brown and Susan Leal. Not only is he openly gay, but he very publicly had a child with a lesbian friend — they co-parent the child and plan to live together before the 3-year-old girl starts school. Dufty can often be seen out in Castro night clubs (though not as often now that he’s a parent) and counts most of the celebrity drag queens in town as his friends.

Dufty’s dramatic and celebrity-filled roots add to his San Francisco image — his mother escaped Nazi Europe and landed in New York. There she befriended Billie Holliday, who later became Dufty’s godmother. Dufty’s childhood voice is found on a recording where the immortal Holliday joshes Dufty about his red underpants. (I found the recording!)

Dufty’s father co-wrote “Lady Sings the Blues” and helped adapt the screenplay for the movie starring Diana Ross. In later years, Dufty Senior married Gloria Swanson and after she died, had a romantic relationship with a man for about 20 years until his death. It would be difficult to make up such a dramatic and historic background but in Dufty’s case, it’s all real.

Right now, we have ourselves a mayor who’s straight, tall, good looking and aiming for the White House. Even the alcoholism and womanizing seems textbook politician, doesn’t it?

Bevan Dufty presents the polar opposite of Newsom in terms of persona and demeanor. Dufty said his job is to bring some solidarity to the citizens of San Francisco, who, in his mind, don’t have a huge variety in political ideology and need someone like him to bring them to consensus in order to make decisions for the good of the city.

Right after we turned the camera off, he said to me, “Oh, I know people call me Namby Pamby.” But he doesn’t care, he said, because he knows he can be a unifying, calming force for our fair city. Only time will tell.

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  • bloomsm

    Dufty is a likable politician and his heart is in the right place. But his election to the mayor’s office seems unlikely for a few reasons.

    First, if, as expected, Leland Yee and Dennis Herrera are running (and all signs point to at least Herrera throwing his hat in the ring; witness his self-aggrandizing advertisements as city attorney), Dufty will be a distant third horse.

    Second, if the City continues to trend progressive, I’m not sure Dufty is progressive enough for some. He’s an in-between candidate: too conservative for the progressives, too liberal for the machine.

    Third, his interests typically are narrowly focused on his own district. Running a city is not the same as being mayor of the Castro. If he wants to be mayor, he needs to find issues that resonate with the rest of the city.

  • bloomsm

    Dufty is a likable politician and his heart is in the right place. But his election to the mayor’s office seems unlikely for a few reasons.

    First, if, as expected, Leland Yee and Dennis Herrera are running (and all signs point to at least Herrera throwing his hat in the ring; witness his self-aggrandizing advertisements as city attorney), Dufty will be a distant third horse.

    Second, if the City continues to trend progressive, I’m not sure Dufty is progressive enough for some. He’s an in-between candidate: too conservative for the progressives, too liberal for the machine.

    Third, his interests typically are narrowly focused on his own district. Running a city is not the same as being mayor of the Castro. If he wants to be mayor, he needs to find issues that resonate with the rest of the city.

  • generic

    @blooms

    You make some great points, and I don’t dispute the particulars of your analysis, but I’m not sure the uber-progressive wing of the city would be willing to overlook the symbolism. (I certainly wouldn’t, and I fucking love Denny Herrera.) In light of all the recent Prop 8 activism, we’re long overdue. The prospect of a gay mayor would resonate; the X factor is how much, and with who.

    And I’m impressed with Dufty. His transit background is solid. A Sup 8. should advocate for the interests of his district, so I don’t hold the “narrow focus” charge too strongly. I like him precisely because he’s a centrist in a city of fringes. Conversely with Herrera, I’m not convinced that legal municipal work makes one great at executive governance. I think Kamala and Jeff Adachi would’ve made shitty mayors.

    I dunno. Before I volunteer (for either campaign) I need to see polling and clearer contrasts. Before we handicap the horserace, we should discuss who would make a better mayor for San Francisco. An un-launched website and a non-defined agenda is pretty weak tea.

  • generic

    @blooms

    You make some great points, and I don’t dispute the particulars of your analysis, but I’m not sure the uber-progressive wing of the city would be willing to overlook the symbolism. (I certainly wouldn’t, and I fucking love Denny Herrera.) In light of all the recent Prop 8 activism, we’re long overdue. The prospect of a gay mayor would resonate; the X factor is how much, and with who.

    And I’m impressed with Dufty. His transit background is solid. A Sup 8. should advocate for the interests of his district, so I don’t hold the “narrow focus” charge too strongly. I like him precisely because he’s a centrist in a city of fringes. Conversely with Herrera, I’m not convinced that legal municipal work makes one great at executive governance. I think Kamala and Jeff Adachi would’ve made shitty mayors.

    I dunno. Before I volunteer (for either campaign) I need to see polling and clearer contrasts. Before we handicap the horserace, we should discuss who would make a better mayor for San Francisco. An un-launched website and a non-defined agenda is pretty weak tea.

  • sfresident

    @generic – Dufty has some good things going for him, but I’m not sure if transit is one of them. For example, he was the swing vote on the last muni budget and he voted the wrong way twice. Until the last few months, when he seems to have decided to make transit his marquee issue, he’s been pretty absent on the issue. Even now, he’s only given some press-conferences about the topic – I’d like to see real action – our fares are going up while our service is being cut. What is Dufty doing about it?

    Dufty is my supervisor. He’s not a bad guy and he’d certainly make a better mayor than Gavin, but he’s also politically unremarkable. His primary goal seems to be making everybody happy and as a result he can be quite wishy-washy and can bow to political pressure when he ought not. We could do worse (Gavin, for example) but I think we might be able to do better. I’ll also be waiting to see who jumps in the race before volunteering and such.

  • sfresident

    @generic – Dufty has some good things going for him, but I’m not sure if transit is one of them. For example, he was the swing vote on the last muni budget and he voted the wrong way twice. Until the last few months, when he seems to have decided to make transit his marquee issue, he’s been pretty absent on the issue. Even now, he’s only given some press-conferences about the topic – I’d like to see real action – our fares are going up while our service is being cut. What is Dufty doing about it?

    Dufty is my supervisor. He’s not a bad guy and he’d certainly make a better mayor than Gavin, but he’s also politically unremarkable. His primary goal seems to be making everybody happy and as a result he can be quite wishy-washy and can bow to political pressure when he ought not. We could do worse (Gavin, for example) but I think we might be able to do better. I’ll also be waiting to see who jumps in the race before volunteering and such.

  • kl2real

    His life story is only a little less interesting than Liza Minnelli’s, huh? I never knew all this, which is something since we get banged over the head constantly by Gavin’s connections to the Getty family. I’ve previously had a less-than-stellar opinion of him, but that has changed over the past few years as I’ve seen him be a good public servant for a City that is generally poorly served by its elected officials. Supervisor Dufty is a good man, and would be a good mayor. I agree with others, however, that he has serious competition and cannot simply be the Castro district’s candidate in the race.

  • kl2real

    His life story is only a little less interesting than Liza Minnelli’s, huh? I never knew all this, which is something since we get banged over the head constantly by Gavin’s connections to the Getty family. I’ve previously had a less-than-stellar opinion of him, but that has changed over the past few years as I’ve seen him be a good public servant for a City that is generally poorly served by its elected officials. Supervisor Dufty is a good man, and would be a good mayor. I agree with others, however, that he has serious competition and cannot simply be the Castro district’s candidate in the race.

  • David

    I am a resident of District 8. I called supervisor Dufty 3X for various reasons over the years. The last time I called his office did not respond. That was regarding the re-paving of a section of 17th street in front of my house – which was very nice. Except that 2 weeks later PGE came to tear up the street exactly where it was repaired! I complained that this was not only an inconvenience, but a waste of taxpayer $. For example, they could have planned with PGE before maintaining the street.

    I expect a supervisor to respond to their constituents. Dufty did not do that and in fact appeared to have disdain for his constituents. I was dismayed by the behavior of his office which is a reflection of him. I took my complaint to supervisor Ammiano (who represented another district) who called me personally to discuss the issue and who subsequently assured me that he took action.

    I will never support Mr.Dufty in any elected office as he has proven to me that he cares more about his political career than in representing his constituents in a democratic forum.

  • David

    I am a resident of District 8. I called supervisor Dufty 3X for various reasons over the years. The last time I called his office did not respond. That was regarding the re-paving of a section of 17th street in front of my house – which was very nice. Except that 2 weeks later PGE came to tear up the street exactly where it was repaired! I complained that this was not only an inconvenience, but a waste of taxpayer $. For example, they could have planned with PGE before maintaining the street.

    I expect a supervisor to respond to their constituents. Dufty did not do that and in fact appeared to have disdain for his constituents. I was dismayed by the behavior of his office which is a reflection of him. I took my complaint to supervisor Ammiano (who represented another district) who called me personally to discuss the issue and who subsequently assured me that he took action.

    I will never support Mr.Dufty in any elected office as he has proven to me that he cares more about his political career than in representing his constituents in a democratic forum.