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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
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County

San Francisco CountyCandidate for Supervisor, District 11

Photo of Berta Hernandez

Berta Hernandez

Community Health Educator
0 votes (6.3%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • An Eviction-Free District! Housing is a human right! Declare a housing emergency so we can take aggressive, sweeping measures to secure affordable housing and address homelessness justly and humanely!
  • A Self-Policing District! Fire all cops who have committed murder, all those who have covered for them, and all those who have stood by while these murders were committed! Massively invest in programs to fight the root causes of petty crime! Replace
  • A Green District! Less cars, more transit, more trees and community gardens! City jobs at union wages and cheap loans from the City to retrofit our infrastructure and our houses to fight climate change!

Experience

Experience

Profession:Community Health Educator
Family Resource System Manager, Instituto Familiar de la Raza, Inc. (2011–current)
Community Health Educator Manager, La Clinica de la Raza (2008–2011)
Project Manager, Prous Science - Thompson Scientific (2006–2008)
Prevention, Outreach and Education Director, Instituto Familiar de la Raza, Inc. (2005–2006)
Latino AIDS Education and Prevention Team Coordinator, Instituto Familiar de la Raza, Inc. (1996–2005)

Education

Universidad de Buenos Aires PhD , Education (2008)
SFSU MA, Spanish Literature (2006)
Universidad de Buenos Aires BA, Spanish Literature (2004)
UNAM Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico BA, Hispanic Language and Literature (1987)

Community Activities

Organizer, Dignity and Resistance Coalition (2011–2013)
Organizer, Movimiento por los Derechos de los Inmigrantes (1994–2006)

Biography

San Francisco’s working class communities are being destroyed. The housing crisis has got to unimaginable places. How is that we got here? For decades San Francisco has been a one-party town doing everything possible to serve the interests of real estate developers, tech companies, and international finance capital against the rest of us. They no longer even pretend to care about the workers, immigrants, and people of color—the African American community has been hit particularly hard—forced to leave town by outrageous rents and the epidemic of evictions.

Perhaps you have wondered what can be done to stop or roll back this process. What about declaring housing a right that cannot be removed? About making all evictions illegal, what about implementing new rent control regulations for all properties with tenants, and government assistance to help low-income homeowners make badly needed home repairs, and a living wage to cover all necessities and beyond? What about charging big banks and corporations for the benefits they receive from publically maintained infrastructure as they do business in our city? What about organizing working-class residents to stand against their own displacement and reclaim their city for themselves?

I have many years of administrative experience as well as long life as a Community Health Worker. I completed my studies in SFSU and raised a family in the city. I am a socialist and stand for full social and economic equality and I do not hesitate to say the true and to confront all injustices. But most important, I do not think I am on this alone. I will be a Supervisor accountable to the people of my district, those who voted me, those who did not vote for me, because not being their candidate of preference, or because did not had the right to vote, because they were not citizens, felons or youth not yet allow to vote. I have the experience and the commitment to engage communities in political process and that is what we need right now.

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Adriana Pacheco - Stay at Home Mother
  • David Herrera - Day Laborer
  • Abel Mouton - SF City College Student

Organizations (1)

  • San Francisco Peace and Freedom Party

Questions & Answers

Questions from League of Women Voters of California Education Fund and California Counts, a public media collaboration. (4)

Many people feel that San Francisco's political system suffers from systemic corruption. Do you agree? If so, what would you propose to eliminate the corruption?
Answer from Berta Hernandez:

Yes, I agree. The only way I see the end of thisw corruption is with full political representation, because of this, my campaign proposes:

  • The creation of the District 11 Community Council, to be made up of community residents elected by precinct to oversee disbursement of funds to the District and the work of District 11 Supervisor in order to make the Supervisor directly accountable to District residents.
  • Making members of the District Council responsible for both determining policy for the District and guaranteeing its execution in order to empower those with the most at stake. This includes the functions currently under the jurisdiction of the San Francisco Police Department (Link to A Self-Policing District).
  • Making membership to the council open to all District residents 14 years of age or older, regardless of immigration status or whether or not they have been convicted for a committing a prior felony. This is in order to ensure that their voices are heard and their needs are met (Link to A District of Youth and Children and A True Sanctuary District).
  • Making voting for the council to be open to all District residents 14 years of age or older, regardless of immigration status or whether or not they have been convicted for committing a prior felony.
  • Granting voting rights to non-citizens and felons in District 11 and all municipal elections. As a first step, we want to create voting places for disfranchised District residents on Election Day (Link toA True Sanctuary District).
  • Lowering the voting age in District 11 and all municipal elections to fourteen years of age to encourage civic engagement at an early age and to force elected officials to take the needs of future generations seriously (Link to A District of Youth and Children).
  • Making the District Supervisor formally accountable to the District Council for participation in city policy.
  • Making members of the District Council subject to immediate recall at any time by district residents.
  • Making all District and citywide officeholders subject to immediate recall.
If elected, what solutions do you propose to deal with the high cost of living in San Francisco?
Answer from Berta Hernandez:
  • Declaring a housing emergency. We call for an immediate halt to all evictions in the Excelsior, Ingleside and Outer Mission as well as in all working class neighborhoods in the City and County of San Francisco.
  • This housing emergency to include using the City’s power of eminent domain to acquire housing stock.
  • This housing emergency to include the introduction of the penalty of forfeiture of property to the City for past abuses of the Ellis Act or Owner Move-In laws for the purposes of evicting tenants.
  • This housing emergency to include the introduction of the penalty of forfeiture of property to the City for for-profit landlords and property managers failing to maintain and their rental property.
  • In cases where rental property is for sale or being taken off of the rental market, the City to take first right of purchase in partnership with renters, who would become equity partners in the building with the City, as the City converts this property to a joint public housing trust. This way, as co-owner of the property, the City will be responsible for repairs and improvements, like solar panels and water efficiency measures, and even landscaping in order to fight against climate change. Furthermore, the equity that accrues to landlords as the result of rents under our current system will accrue to both the tenant-trust partners and the City, as it should. In other words, City becomes the bank that holds the mortgage with a mandate to never foreclose.
  • No more pass-throughs to tenants of bond costs for large infrastructure projects and educational projects.
  • No more bonded indebtedness (Link to A Point on Finances).
  • No more condo conversions.
  • Make a full accounting of all City property, and use an open, democratic process based in our elected council of District 11 residents to develop new housing and community space in District 11 in these buildings and spaces.
  • Base new housing and community space on existing resources before we build new facilities, consistent with the principles of environmental sustainability.
  • Occupy all empty buildings in the District in order to transform them into 100% affordable housing or spaces to address other community needs.
  • The aggressive implementation of means-based rent control lawsthat limit rents to 30% or less of tenants’ income. 
  • Reducing the allowable annual percentage rent increase to thepercentage that Social Security payments increase every year.
  • Strict limits on the ownership of housing in San Francisco. No one should own more than one rental property.
  • The City of San Francisco to go into the business of developing housing in San Francisco, expropriating private developers in order to get the equipment where necessary.
  • In the meantime, we declare housing a public good and look into acquiring housing and land for conversion to 100% affordable housing.
  • Local government partnerships for low-income homeowners to support badly-needed home repairs and improvements and the elimination of all property taxes for properties currently assessed below $700,000.
  • The City and County of San Francisco to begin implementation of a policy of residential land trusts.
 The San Francisco Police Department’s relationships with the city’s diverse communities, and with the way in which it handles arrests, has recently come under scrutiny.  Do you agree that there is a problem and if so, please describe what you would do to resolve the issues.
Answer from Berta Hernandez:

We should begin by asking ourselves what it is that the police actually do for us. Mostly, they function as appendages of the federal government, carrying out “joint operations” against undocumented immigrants and drug dealers, often both at the same time (Link to A True Sanctuary District). They receive lots of money from the federal government for the purpose of buying leftover ordnance from the U.S. military that they turn against protestors for social justice, notably against protestors in Ferguson, Missouri last year. They kill our neighbors in broad daylight at the slightest provocation; frequently justifying such murders by saying they feared for their safety or that of their partners. When they are criticized for things like the murder of Mario Woods or Jessica Williams, they respond by saying that no one appreciates them for the good job they do protecting us most of the time, and the San Francisco Police Officers’ Association (SFPOA) obliquely threatens to “withdraw protection” from anyone who criticizes the deadly use of violence by the police. Yes I have a problem with police. My campaign calls for:

  • Demilitarizing SFPD and the Sheriff’s Department. All military surplus weaponry, vehicles, and armor that have been acquired by SFPD must be taken from them and destroyed. The City’s policy of SFPD non-cooperation with ICE must be enforced. We should also implement a policy of non-cooperation with the DEA and other federal authorities with respect to drug trafficking.
  • Defunding the SFPD and the Sheriff’s Department. As part of the policy of non-cooperation with the ICE, the DEA, and other federal agencies, the SFPD and the Sheriff’s Department must refuse all future funding for such activities. 
  • Disarming the SFPD and the Sheriff’s Department. This will be partially accomplished through the demilitarization of the police, but here is where we will finish the job. It wouldn’t surprise us at all to learn, taking sum of the experience of the law enforcement community at a national scale in the U.S., that nearly every item officially issued to the police had been applied to deadly purpose at some point in the history of the cops.
  • Disbanding the police. All cops who have committed murder, all those who have covered for them, and all those who have stood by while these murders were committed should be fired, stripped of their pensions and their honors, and prosecuted. 
  • Impeaching and firing Mayor Ed Lee for his support of this department that has, with the publication of the texting scandalamong many other things been proven to be a racist institution by its own very low standards.
Many people believe that efforts to address the crisis of homelessness have not been effective. What would you, as a county elected official, do differently to successfully resolve the city's homelessness problem?
Answer from Berta Hernandez:

No family or individual should be deprived of their/her/his human rights. All humans deserve adequate, clean, comfortable places to live. Shame on a city that allows the most vulnerable of its residents to be thrown into the streets! Shame on the Mayor and the elected officials who offer tax breaks and incentives to big corporations that allow them to make even more money!

  • Redefining the City’s homeless population as “tenants in transition”, because we will make it policy to house these people as soon as possible.
  • Asserting and protecting the rights of tenants-in-transition to appropriate pieces of public land to live on while they are waiting to be housed.
  • Defend all places where tenants-in-transition have formed encampments to protect themselves and one another from police harassment and make sanitation, health, and case management services available to those who want and need them in these encampments.
  • Make other plots of unused public land available for further encampments for tenants-in-transition.
  • In the meantime, we declare housing a public good and look into acquiring housing and land for conversion to 100% affordable housing.
  • Develop shelters with sufficient space and with appropriate support aimed at transitioning people into public housing.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

San Francisco’s working class communities are being destroyed. The housing crisis has got to unimaginable places. How is that we got here? For decades San Francisco has been a one-party town doing everything possible to serve the interests of real estate developers, tech companies, and international finance capital against the rest of us. They no longer even pretend to care about the workers, immigrants, and people of color—the African American community has been hit particularly hard—forced to leave town by outrageous rents and the epidemic of evictions.

Perhaps you have wondered what can be done to stop or roll back this process. What about declaring housing a right that cannot be removed? About making all evictions illegal, what about implementing new rent control regulations for all properties with tenants, and government assistance to help low-income homeowners make badly needed home repairs, and a living wage to cover all necessities and beyond? What about charging big banks and corporations for the benefits they receive from publically maintained infrastructure as they do business in our city? What about organizing working-class residents to stand against their own displacement and reclaim their city for themselves?

I have many years of administrative experience as well as long life as a Community Health Worker. I completed my studies in SFSU and raised a family in the city. I am a socialist and stand for full social and economic equality and I do not hesitate to say the true and to confront all injustices. But most important, I do not think I am on this alone. I will be a Supervisor accountable to the people of my district, those who voted me, those who did not vote for me, because not being their candidate of preference, or because did not had the right to vote, because they were not citizens, felons or youth not yet allow to vote. I have the experience and the commitment to engage communities in political process and that is what we need right now.

Position Papers

Berta Hernandez for Supervisor Platform.

Summary

Berta Hernandez for Supervisor Platform.

Full text https://bertahernandezforsupervisor2016.com/

An Eviction-Free District! Housing is a human right! Declare a housing emergency so we can take aggressive, sweeping measures to secure affordable housing and address homelessness justly and humanely!

A Green District! Less cars, more transit, more trees and community gardes! City jobs at union wages and cheap loans from the City to retrofit our infrastructure and our houses to fight climate change!

A True Sanctuary District! Deny the I.C.E. access to our city! Declare District 11 a total and complete I.C.E.-free zone and a stronghold for fighters for Papers For All and against deportation!

A Self-Policing District! Fire all cops who have committed murder, all those who have covered for them, and all those who have stood by while these murders were committed! Massively invest in programs to fight the root causes of petty crime! Replace the police department and the sheriff’s department with community arbitration of justice!

A Healthy District! Healthcare is a human right! Bring public health campaigns, programs, clinics, and a hospital to District 11!A District of Youth and Children! Our children deserve the highest quality public education and health care possible paid for by progressive taxation! Afterschool and summer programs as well as city jobs repairing and improving the District’s infrastructure for all youth who desire them.

A Living Wage District! Forget about the fight for $15, and join the fight for a living wage of $40/hour for all San Franciscans!

A District made safe through community engagement! For a community council in District 11 to oversee disbursement of funds in the district and to oversee the work of the Supervisor! Voting rights for non-citizens, felons, and lower the voting age to fourteen years of age in municipal elections!

A Riders’ District! Free public transportation for all, paid for by progressive taxation! Expansion of late-night MUNI service.

 

A Cultural District! Develop a residents’ council to administer art funds to develop a community theater for music and theater, murals throughout the neighborhood, and a full range of community-based art education programs.

A DISTRICT AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE!

Summary

Climate change is the most important problem facing the world. If we don’t take immediate, serious actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, like revamp our transportation infrastructure, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels for energy production to practically nothing, find new ways to feed ourselves that do not rely on extremely destructive farming and meat production practices, restore the severe damage we have done to our environment while conserving what remains, the odds are that the Earth will become unfit for humans to live on within a few centuries, if not sooner. 

 

Climate change is the most important problem facing the world. If we don’t take immediate, serious actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, like revamp our transportation infrastructure, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels for energy production to practically nothing, find new ways to feed ourselves that do not rely on extremely destructive farming and meat production practices, restore the severe damage we have done to our environment while conserving what remains, the odds are that the Earth will become unfit for humans to live on within a few centuries, if not sooner. Meanwhile, big corporations are trying to implement a set of regulations that will allow them to present an image of being pro-environment while reaping huge profits off of the marketing of “green” technology and the selling of dwindling resources. We would be foolish to trust these people with their profit system to save the planet they have almost destroyed.

We must take responsibility for reducing and repairing the damage we as a species have done our planet. This means dispossessing the big corporations and treating the world as a common treasury for humans to share with one another as well as all other forms of life—birds, bugs, flowers, trees, and so on. We must find a way to take what we need from the Earth while also allowing for the replenishing of the natural systems we depend on for our survival. Very importantly, we must prepare our children to face the challenges of their changing world.

We begin by recognizing that these are problems that must be addressed on every scale—global, national, statewide, and citywide, to say nothing of at the district, household and individual levels. A member of the Board of Supervisors only has limited jurisdiction over policy for the City and County of San Francisco and our district. A true solution to climate change requires the mobilization of those with the most at stake: workers and the oppressed. We are convinced that thebattle to mitigate and repair the effects of climate change is in part a battle for full public ownership of the means of producing and distributing energy under the democratic control of energy workers and working-class and poor consumers. Nevertheless, we can make some definite and valuable changes at the District and citywide levels that can perhaps contribute to the solving of the problems posed by climate change to our state, nation, and world.

We see the creation of our District Council of empowered neighborhood residents as described elsewhere as being a critical element of this plan (Link to A Community-Powered District). Part of the District Council’s responsibilities will be to identify the people in our neighborhood with the knowledge, skill, and energy to confront the many different aspects of fighting climate change at a local level and providing them with authority and resources to lead the rest of us in the struggle. We think that, as an empowered district, we can use the adaptation of our infrastructure as an opportunity to create city jobs at union wages for the people who live here. Furthermore, we can pair the transformation of our infrastructure with education, teaching children about ecosystems and environmental feedback through hands-on work with tree planting, gardening, etc. (Link to A District of Youth and Children.)

Specific proposals for our district include but are not limited to:

 
  • A community-based transit plan democratically developed and decided upon that will work towards reducing fossil fuel powered transit and replacing it with clean energy transit, like bicycles and skateboards and so on. It is, however, of critical importance that something that will have such a profound effect on transit in the district not be imposed from the outside; otherwise it is bound to fail (Link to A Rider’s District).
  • Designating certain streets for public transit, pedestrians, and non-motorized vehicles only and diverting private autos to freeways and parallel streets, with perhaps certain times designated for deliveries.
  • Free, safe, high-quality bicycles on demand, made to order for all who desire them. In the meantime, the City should provide subsidies and incentives to increase the bike share program, as well as bike repair shops where District 11 residents, kids and youth especially, can learn how to fix bikes.
  • Increasing bus service to mitigate overcrowding.
  • Re-designing transit routes to make access easier, including the addition of feeder lines to main lines.
  • Re-designing the interiors of the buses so they are not so uncomfortable and dangerous.
  • Relentlessly pressuring vehicle vendors for reduced emission engines for coaches.
  • Making public transportation free for all.
  • Full public ownership of the means of producing and distributing energy under the democratic control of energy workers and working-class and poor consumers.
  • Granting subsidies for household energy production; e.g. freeinstallation of solar panels and small in-home electricity generators.The City should partner with homeowners to increase the energy efficiency of their homes—raising them to LEED Gold Standards or better—and increase the amount of energy generated within the City. This will help cut into wasteful long-distance transportation of dirty, coal, gas, and nuclear generated electricity through power grids. Incidentally, this will also help San Francisco to recover more quickly in the event of a catastrophic earthquake that cuts off the supply of power to the City from the south.
  • Increasing emphasis on community gardeningWe already have the expertise in our community to supply more of our own food, and we should begin doing it by opening up unused public open spaces for community gardening in partnership with schools and urban farming organizations. This will also reduce the need to transportfood long distances in vehicles that burn fossil fuels as well as the petroleum-based packaging that makes our children sick anddegrades marine ecosystems.
  • Conserving water. Although 2016 was a year of slightly above average rainfall for California, early indications are that the historic drought will continue in the coming year. We need to continue to reduce our water usage, and we should find ways to encourage neighborhood residents to collaborate on creating water catchment systems that can help meet household water needs. Furthermore, as climate change progresses, rainfall will likely tend to arrive in large quantities with long dry spells in between. We need to find ways to capture this water for urban use while also channeling it so as to minimize the damage it might cause. This can be done byincreasing the implementation of bio-swales in the streets andpermeable pavement and sidewalks to increase groundwater penetration, while also using native and benevolent migrant plant landscaping in public areas and providing incentives to do this in private homes, which will also be good for local birds and bugs. We also should find ways to streamline the use of gray water and caught water for irrigation and street cleaning.
  • Restore Hetch Hetchy. As we improve water and power efficiency in the City, we should officially investigate of all of the pros and cons of restoring Hetch Hetchy Reservoir with a view towards accomplishing this restoration at the earliest possible dateThis should be seen as an act of reparation towards the non-human species—the plants, birds, bugs, and so on—to which the development of human civilization has caused so much irreparable damage.
  • Even up the geographic distribution of wastewater facilities and bring them under the democratic control of workers in this industry as well as the communities they serve. The geographic distribution of wastewater treatment facilities is unfairly concentrated in the southeastern part of the City and has the flavor of environmental racism. We should explore the possibility of having more, smaller facilities that are more widely distributed so that the wealthier neighborhoods in town can take more responsibility for processing their own waste. Furthermore, we should strictly apply best practices in wastewater treatment so that we can recycle as much wastewater as possible locally, and what is left to be released in the ocean is adequately treated not only for the usual pollutants, but also the material in human waste, like the residue from medications, psychiatric and otherwise, that has been shown to have deleterious effects on the marine ecosystem.
  • Greening the district. We should plant drought-tolerant native plants and trees for carbon sequestration and to provide infrastructural support for the native insects and birds. We should also identify underground creeks to open to the surface. These proposals will not only offset some of the district’s carbon emissions from transportation and housing and reduce water use, but will also support the varieties of native insects, birds, and mammals in the district, which will make it a more beautiful and interesting place to live.
  • Garbage removal. District 11 does not have adequate garbageremoval services. We should bring the waste removal companies under the democratic control of the sanitation workers and consumers and use the profits to make these services free to all residents of District 11. If waste removal is free, residents can easily add garbage cans as needed, and illegal dumping will become an unnecessary practice. Furthermore, we can identify residents of our community who have the skill and enthusiasm and empower them to redesign our waste removal system and lead us to build on the progress made by garbage separation in San Francisco. For instance, we notice there are many seniors in the District already doing a huge share of the work sorting recycling—often illegally, we might add. This law only benefits the recycling company at the expense of a super-oppressed sector of the population in San Francisco, and should be repealed (See A Point on Seniors). We need a broader definition of “recycling”, one that relies more heavily on the repurposing of materials found in the garbage without processing. We also need to find ways to process and utilize the compost generated within San Francisco for the purposes of local gardening and landscaping. We are for outlawing the sale of individual plastic water bottles and looking for ways to phase out and replace most plastic and paper beverage containers.
  • The creation of City jobs with union wages for all who desire them to retrofit District 11 infrastructure in the manner described above.

A LIVING WAGE DISTRICT!

Summary
  • A living wage of $40 per hour.

With a median rent for a fair-market two-bedroom apartment of $5,043 per month, San Francisco has become one of the most expensive cities on Earth in which to make one’s home. Taking the standard rule of thumb that one should spend no more than 30% of their gross income on rent, someone who wants to live in one room of a two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco should make $100,860 per year, or $48.49 per hour. And this isn’t even including the cost of raising a family in town. Meanwhile, the liberal wing of the San Francisco Democratic Party establishment offers us a local minimum wage of…$15 per hour. While businesses wring their hands and cry about how these wage increases will put them out of business, and leftists crow about the enormity of this achievement, we say we will take it, but we still can’t live on it.

Ideally, the trade unions would take the lead in fighting for wage increases and establishing a minimum wage for all workers that people could actually live on. In fact, it wasn’t so long ago that unions used to include cost-of-living allowances to insure that workers’ wages would rise with the cost of living in the area where they worked. Years of functioning hand-in-glove with the Democratic Party have led to union bureaucrats demobilizing workers in order to create a collaborative atmosphere with bosses in which supposedly everyone was going to thrive, but, which, as any fool can plainly see, hasn’t really worked out.

Our economic proposals are aimed at indexing wages and rents to the cost of living in San Francisco (Link to An Eviction-Free District). This way, landlords can pressure businesses to raise wages, and businesses can interest themselves in getting landlords to lower rents, and the City can stop collaborating with these two interest groups against us. As such, we propose:

  • A living wage of $40 per hour.
  • Index the wages of elected officials—notably the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors—to the minimum wage in San Francisco. Let them try to live on the same amount of money as we do and see what happens.
  • The divestment of all City funds from the big corporate banks currently managing them and for the formation of the Municipal Bank of San Francisco, administered by us for us.

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