Ed Lee Spends Sunday Waiting for Cheering Fans Who Never Showed Up

Categories: Politics
Hang Out, Ed, Hang Out!
When Gavin Newsom was mayor, he worked hard to burnish his persona as a fabulous man of the people. He would roll up to a gritty corner in Hunters Point with a camera crew and ambush a few  passersby, hoping they'd talk with him while the cameras rolled. But after 10 minutes, he'd hop back into his tinted-window Chevy Suburban and disappear.

But as we have said before, Mayor Ed Lee is nothing like Newsom. It was kind of endearing to watch the unassuming Lee, who was appointed in January to replace Newsom, try to perform his own adaptation of this kind of political street performance at Sunday Streets yesterday. Like the man himself, Lee's performance was earnest, and, well, more charming, than anything his predecessor pulled off.

It was just Lee and seven sign-toting, T-shirt-wearing groupies wandering around Civic Center in a tiny cluster for more than two hours, hoping to give Ed Heads the chance to meet the mayoral candidate.

But sadly, nobody seemed interested. In other words, Lee ended up drifting around the Main Library, talking to the winos before calling it a day.

A bemused man who said his name was Andy watched this intriguing spectacle from a distance and declared that it was exactly this kind of hapless unpretentiousness that made him all the more fond of Lee.

"That's why I think I might vote for him," he told SF Weekly.

But Lee wasn't the only unfortunate political candidate trolling Sunday Streets, looking for people to back him.

Previous versions of the events dubbed "San Francisco's Official Block Party" have drawn vast, jubilant, family-friendly crowds at other venues, including the Embarcadero. But Sunday's Tenderloin version -- where police briefly close sections of the city to automobiles so that people can walk and bike -- was a flop. The Tenderloin -- known for its drug culture and prostitution -- is not generally the sort of place families go for a good time. Needless to say, the streets were sparsely populated.

That could explain why these pols had little fanfare. Supervisor John Avalos, who is also running for mayor, came out with a small band of sign-toters and milled around for a while, looking for people to meet and greet. But he left within two hours.

The most sporting of the candidates might have been David Onek, running for district attorney. He held court across the street from City Hall for several hours, talking gamely with a few dozen passersby. "Is this something that's on your radar?" Onek asked, referring to his race against DA incumbent George Gascón in this fall's local election.

For much of the smallish crowd at Civic Center enjoying the last day before the start of the school year, the answer seemed to be, "Mmm, not yet."

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"Sunday Streets", like all these events, does not harness the creativity of the neighborhood. It has corporate and business participation but no soul.

Lee has been an awful mayor. Who cares what he looks like? He has been a stooge for elite business interests and that has been disastrous!

Adrienne Kristine
Adrienne Kristine

I thought the idea of Sunday Streets in the Tenderloin was well-intentioned but rather funny. Those of us who live here know we can be on the streets every day with all the users, abusers and colorful purveyors of alcohol- and drug-fueled entertainment. Since there were outsiders and law enforcement personnel milling about, we residents stayed home. Too bad the mayoral candidates and cheerleaders didn't go from camp to camp or shopping cart to shopping cart to meet the denizens to distribute some of their campaign contributions.


As long as the press keeps emphasizing stylistic flourishes (or the lack thereof) instead of on the back room dealers who propped up Lee and the kind of operation he runs, he will coast without having to answer tough questions.

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