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By Laura McHale Holland
Happy. Relieved. Honored. Sleep-deprived. These are the words Bevan Dufty used to describe how he felt post-election Nov. 7. Garnering 64 percent of the vote, Dufty defeated challengers Alix Rosenthal and Starchild and kept his job as District 8 supervisor for four more years. In a spirited campaign, his opponents, as expected, tried to convince voters he didn't have what it takes to solve problems within the district and citywide.
But the real brouhaha came from the media's reaction to the birth of Dufty's daughter, Sidney Maely Goldfader-Dufty, in early October. As Voice readers know, Dufty, a gay man, has an unusual relationship with Sidney's mom, Rebecca Goldfader, a lesbian. Longtime friends, Dufty and Goldfader decided to move in together and create a family. Their daughter was conceived through in-vitro fertilization. Neither of the new parents has a romantic partner right now, but they expect, should this occur, they will embrace the new relationship.
In mid-campaign, KGO Radio talk-show host Pete Wilson criticized their arrangement, and implied that Dufty and Goldfader's style of co-parenting was not as good as that of two people who are in a committed sexual relationship, whether straight or gay. A firestorm ensued, but the attacks did nothing to dampen Dufty's enthusiasm for his new family.
"We were just at Dr. Schwanke's office [Sidney's pediatrician], and I saw a father with his daughter. We had just gotten Sidney's shots, and she was fussy, and I was trying to comfort her. The other dad looked over at me and said, 'Don't listen to any of those crazy radio guys. I'm really happy for you. Good for you,'" Dufty reports. "So I have these random acts of support from people in Noe Valley all the time that are just heartening and touching."
Dufty has been tending to his duties as supervisor during the day and feeding and changing Sidney throughout the night, which is why he, like all new parents, is sorely in need of rest. "I'm drawing on all my political skills as a negotiator to figure out what she wants at 3 a.m.," he says with a laugh. "Sometimes it's as successful as I've been with Real Food's, and it's a long night."
The Real Food Company stalemate began when Nutraceutical Corporation purchased the once-popular natural foods store on 24th Street and then abruptly closed it in August 2003, ostensibly for remodeling. Citing problems with liability and other costs, the corporation has left the store shuttered for three years.
"I didn't want to make it a campaign issue, but I have been contacted by Nutraceutical, and I think they actually felt badly that I was getting criticized for the lack of progress," Dufty says. "They acknowledged how much I've tried to reach out to them, and they have pledged to meet with me this month."
In the meantime, Dufty says, he is urging them to take the first step. "I've been trying to work quietly to get them to come to the neighborhood to discuss their plans and talk about how to heal their relationships, but I can't make any promises."
Another of his priorities for the coming term is to make sure the Noe Valley Library renovation stays on track. So far, he says, the bi-monthly neighborhood advisory committee meetings are going well. "There's a little creative tension, and that's what the purpose of this sort of citizens committee is, to be engaged with the construction firm and the public library to make sure we're taking care of due process.... I think we're on track for re-opening next October or November." Also high on Dufty's agenda are issues like reducing crime, making Muni more efficient, and improving public schools.
"Those are my major priorities. I did take a strong stand on the [recent] foot patrol legislation, which apparently angered the mayor greatly, but I think public safety is my most important responsibility as a city leader, and I'm not happy with the direction of the [Police] Department," Dufty says. "I'm not satisfied that the leadership is being creative and responsive in addressing increased crime throughout our city, and in neighborhoods in District 8 that have never before had people feel unsafe like they feel these days."
On the schools issue, he has asked Aaron Peskin, who is likely to continue as president of the Board of Supervisors, to name him chair of the joint city/school district committee. "I have tremendous interest in improving our schools, and I'm even more motivated because my plan is to have Sidney attend public schools here in San Francisco," Dufty says.
Supervisor Dufty welcomes input from his constituents. You can e-mail him at email@example.com or call his office at 554-6968, which now includes a changing table, glider, diaper bag, and other baby accoutrements.