Mayoral Candidate Profile: David Chiu
David Chiu, president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, represents District 3, which includes the Financial District, Chinatown, North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf. If he is elected mayor, he will represent all of San Francisco.
Under his leadership, Chiu said he envisions San Francisco will “continue to be a shining, welcoming beacon to the rest of the world for people with any background.”
In October a University of San Francisco student reporter interviewed Chiu at his campaign headquarters. Along with the Chewbacca costume that seems be the Chiu campaign mascot, tokens of support from the LGBT community and other groups decorate the office. A portion of the room is dedicated to the question, “Why do you support David Chiu?” The various sticky notes on the wall read “He gets it,” “He rides his bike to work,” “He is a Star Wars geek,” “He inspires me.”
The oldest child of Taiwanese immigrant parents, Chiu, 41, was born in Cleveland and raised in Boston. He said he received a “great education” at his Jesuit Catholic high school. He received his undergraduate degree in government, law degree and master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University.
Chiu, who worked as an aide to Democratic Senator Paul Simon, eventually arrived in San Francisco. He said he came here for the reason “that hundreds of thousands of San Franciscans have come to our city. We are a beacon of diversity, innovation, and social justice to the rest of the world.”
Chiu was a staff attorney for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and an assistant district attorney. A civil rights advocate, Chiu said he witnessed firsthand the prejudice and racism that “don’t reflect the promise of full civil rights.”
Many San Franciscans are in the same shoes as David Chiu – renters, bus riders, street food lovers.
Chiu, who does not own a car, walks, rides his bike, car shares, or takes Muni, to get around.
“San Francisco pretends to be a transit first city but we are far from it,” Chiu said. Chiu, a regular Muni rider, said he has heard plenty of feedback from other passengers.
He listed some of the city’s transportation challenges: “the transit system that has Muni buses late 30% of the time; some of the most dangerous pedestrian and biking experiences in the state; where you can’t catch a cab in most parts of the city, and where the roads are congested and full of potholes. We have to improve every mode of transit that we have.”
As the only mayoral candidate who is a tenant, Chiu is aware of the difficulties that many San Franciscans face when looking for affordable rentals. Students and young newcomers to the city and others with low wages have a particularly hard time in the expensive housing market.
“I am acutely sensitive to the challenges facing young San Franciscans that may feel like they are not going to maintain a home in the city because of the cost of living and the challenges of affordable housing,” Chiu said.
Chiu is proud of his support for legislation to benefit renters.
“I have a record of passing legislation to expand affordable housing and protect tenant rights and I will continue to do so,” Chiu said.
When he has time, Chiu enjoys surfing and snowboarding. Chiu has played the electric violin in venues around the city. He likes to bike along Ocean Beach. Chiu also is a proud supporter of the food scene and can often be spotted at the Friday night Off the Grid food truck events.
“It’s a gathering of thousands of young people hanging around the food trucks enjoying the incredible diversity of food choices that we have in the city,” Chiu said.
Chiu’s policies often represent the youth constituency.
“I do represent a new generation of political leadership in town.” Chiu said. Many of his priorities are targeted at supporting young San Franciscans.
“With the loss of 30,000 jobs in recent years, I am 1000% focused on making sure that we are creating jobs for our next generations of San Franciscans,” Chiu said.
David Chiu’s campaign website: http://www.davidchiuformayor.com/