Mayoral Candidate Profile: Tony Hall
For most of his life, Tony Hall has held the reins of leadership. Whether the father of seven kids, the lead singer of “The Hallmarks,” or as executive assistant to the judges in the San Francisco superior and municipal courts, Hall, 69, is used to being in charge. Before his retirement in 2006, he worked in nine city departments.
From 2000 to 2004 Hall represented District 7. As a supervisor, he worked on several projects to refurbish public spaces, including Harding Park Golf Club, sports fields and parks. He left the Board of Supervisors when he was appointed executive director of the Treasure Island Development Authority.
Hall was born in Los Angeles in 1942, the second of eight children in an Irish Catholic family. He had track and basketball scholarships to Loyola Marymount University and UCLA, where he earned a degree in economics and public administration.
In 1964 Hall moved to San Francisco to work as an investigator for the retirement system. That job led to his work in areas such the civil service, the district attorney’s office and the superior court of San Francisco.
However, Hall said that when he started in civil service the salaries were not that high so in 1965 he started his band The Hallmarks to make extra money and put his kids through school.
“We have some original material but we do mainly covers and parties and themed music now,” Hall said. “We did do a lot of club work years ago. Played at every club in San Francisco and every type of venue.”
The Hallmarks covers range from rock to blues to reggae to rockabilly. Hall, the lead singer, said his inspiration comes from jazz singer Louis Prima and Charles Aznavour, a French singer. Three of the original six members are still with the band.
Every window of Hall’s West Portal campaign office was filled with blue and yellow Tony Hall signs with the slogan “Bring Back Our Voice.”
Hall met with a University of San Francisco student reporter early one October evening. Most of his aides were gone for the day. Hall put both his hands over eyes and took a deep sigh, apparently exhausted from his recent 17-hour campaign days. Although the final stretch of his campaign must have been taking a toll on him, he still had obvious energy left.
“When you work 35 years for the city you know how it functions and how it should be functioning,” he said. Hall abides by what he calls a “people over politics” philosophy.
“For 15 years this city has been primarily concerned with political expediency, how could they use the office and the exploit the common good, exploit the common person to get to the next higher office. Invariably, everybody in office was doing that. And I’m the first guy that said ‘look enough of the politics, let’s get down to serving the people.’ Everybody gets an office and they devise all these social programs to elevate themselves to the next higher office and it’s just simply wrong. Rather than a government that serves the common good, they’re serving themselves. And that’s why I got in it. Tell them it’s akin to the great Jesuit philosophy.”
If elected mayor, Hall said he plans to make the streets of San Francisco safer with more community policing and foot patrols.
“First of all we have to hold people responsible and accountable for their deeds,” Hall said. “And that includes proper and professional enforcement by the police department and various security agencies that operate within our city.”
One of Hall’s main goals as mayor is to keep the middle class from moving out of San Francisco. In order to accomplish this, Hall wants to see the local government promote an atmosphere to encourage job creation. He said “unnecessary red tape,” such as administrative costs, contribute towards an unhealthy business climate in San Francisco. To solve this issue, Hall wants to streamline the permitting process and eliminating the payroll tax.
“I would do all that to encourage the creation of jobs by small business so that our youth, guys like you, don’t have to go elsewhere to look for a future,” Hall said. “That’s real important.”
In order to help alleviate the homeless problem in San Francisco, Hall plans to get rid of the non-profit homeless organizations.
“I would get rid of the non-profits who are scamming the homeless system and replace them with faith-based organizations who are now discouraged from setting up shop in San Francisco,” Hall said. “I would use them to deliver on what they do best, which is true charity.”
Additionally, Hall wants to examine the root causes of homelessness and establish a one-stop help center to direct homeless people to the proper services.
“[I want to] insist that all city departments create a system whereby resident concerns are voiced,” Hall said. “I will re-establish our former civil service merit system that encourages and rewards performance in the workplace and eliminate the spoil system of appointments and hiring for political purposes that City Hall has been doing the last 10 years.”
Hall also wants a younger generation of San Franciscans to work in City Hall.
“I will recruit and build a farm-team of young San Franciscans whose hearts, desires and talents are matched with their ability to serve the city,” Hall said.
Hall said that while attending graduate school at the University of San Francisco, Professor Daniel Matrocce gave him four tools which he uses to shape his public service:honesty, integrity, loyalty and pride.
Hall has some ideas about what his victory song will be if he is elected mayor.
“The one that most recently comes to mind is ‘Winners’ by Frank Sinatra,” Hall said. “If I win I’ll sing it. Oh absolutely. I’ll have my band play it and I’ll sing it, absolutely.”