| October 2012
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By Tim Innes
Inspired by a message of hope and change, Noe Valley voters turned out in record numbers in 2008 to help put Barack Obama in the White House. The notoriously liberal neighborhood, where two-thirds of voters identify themselves as Democrats, handed Obama a landslide victory. The Illinois Democrat took 91 percent of the vote, swamping Republican rival John McCain, who got just 6.4 percent..
Also energizing voters was Prop. 8, a measure to ban same-sex marriage in California. Though 89 percent of Noe Valley voters gave it a thumbs-down, Californians favored Prop. 8 by 52 percent to 48 percent. The measure is now before the courts.
Will Noe Valley hold true to form and hand Democratic candidates and progressive measures lopsided victories again this November?
“Absolutely,’’ said Hunter Stern, president of the Noe Valley Democratic Club for the past three years.
While acknowledging that the level of excitement for Obama isn’t as intense this time, Stern said Democrats came out of their convention in Charlotte “energized and determined.” He said the Wednesday-night speeches by Senate hopeful Elizabeth Warren and former President Bill Clinton “reaffirmed what we as a party are about.”
Stern said club members, most notably retired attorney Clark Moscrip, have been staffing voter-registration tables at the Saturday farmers market and handing out literature on 24th Street.
The big push will commence the first weekend in October, when an army of volunteers will fan out across Noe Valley and adjacent neighborhoods to place as many as 16,000 door hangers listing the club’s endorsements. “We’ll hit pretty much every door in Noe Valley,” Stern said.
Club members approved the endorsements at a spirited meeting Sept. 12. Besides President Obama (and shoo-ins like Dianne Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi), the club voted to support incumbents Sandra Lee Fewer, Rachel Norton, and Jill Wynns plus newcomer Sam Rodriguez for four seats on the San Francisco Board of Education and challengers Amy Bacharach, Rafael Mandelman, and William Walker for three seats on the Community College Board of Trustees, which oversees City College of San Francisco.
The club also voted to oppose state Prop. 32, which would prohibit using payroll deductions for political purposes, and San Francisco Prop. F, which could lead to draining Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, the source of drinking water to 2.5 million Bay Area residents.
Stern, a Clipper Street resident and field representative for the union that represents PG&E electrical workers, said that defeating Prop. 32 should be top priority for Democrats because passage would cripple labor’s ability to raise campaign funds—money that almost always goes to liberal candidates and causes.
As for the presidential campaign, most Noe Valley volunteers are working through www.barackobama.com, where they can hook up with the “Mission–Castro–Noe Valley–Bernal Battleground” to call voters in swing states, or search via their ZIP code to find events in or near the neighborhood.
The Church Street Cafe, at 262 Church St., is the spot for phone-banking on eight dates in October, and several private homes have opened their doors for debate-watch parties on Oct. 3 and 27.
Meanwhile, no one has come forward to succeed the late Harry Aleo as the face of the G.O.P. in Noe Valley. Before his death four years ago, Aleo maintained a shrine to his hero, Ronald Reagan, and other Republican notables in the front window of his Twin Peaks Properties on 24th Street. The window also needled Democrats with a hand-lettered sign welcoming passers-by to “Looney Valley, the home of latte-sipping, left-wing liberals.”
“There are Republicans in Noe Valley, but we keep a low profile,” said Candy Ashe, a self-described “Reagan conservative” who lives in Dolores Heights. “I was born and reared a Republican. My parents, my husband, my siblings—all Republicans.”
The retired San Francisco Unified School District paraprofessional said, “A lot of my friends are liberals. They know where I stand and they respect that. But we do not talk about politics.”
Neither does she put political signs in her windows or bumper stickers on her car for fear of harassment or vandalism—a sad commentary, she said, “in a city that prides itself on tolerance.”