San Francisco needs local heroes


The Crusader

San Francisco voters will vote this coming week on, among other issues, whether or not to recall DA Chesa Boudin.

Sophie Bucker '24, Staff Reporter

From my childhood, I have been a frequent patron of the many cafes of our shining city, seeking shelter when it reveals its familiar not-so-shining fog. With time, I have come to know the atmosphere of each one very well. But a frequently occurring character I only recently began noticing as I grew up, whether in the depths of Noe Valley or on the hills of North Beach, is the millennial techie. 

It is likely that you, dear reader, have also spotted them, for they are rather easy to spot. A pair of barely worn Levi’s, a plain cotton T-shirt, and a Patagonia jacket with the name of the startup they happen to be working at for the month: this is their cultural dress. Their language: a pidgin of Midwestern English with phrases like avocado toast, IPO, and venture capital sprinkled in. And with this obnoxious aura, who could blame native San Franciscans for cracking the not-so-occasional joke at the expense of their new neighbors?

Many think that San Franciscans are unfair with their nativism. But oftentimes, this nativism serves to protect our city, not divide it. Most of the time, newcomers, especially techies, live their lives through a completely different lens than the vast majority of San Franciscans. An example of this, taken from an interview from the Neue Zürcher Zeitung with Carolyn Chen, assistant professor at the Department of Ethnic Studies of UC Berkeley and author of the book Work Pray Code, is how “[techies] take a Google-bus to and from work every morning. Hence, [they] don’t experience firsthand how bad public transportation is in their neighborhood. For them, rundown public transportation does not matter, and when your company covers all your needs, not just transportation, you no longer feel a need to participate in organizations outside of your work.” (translated from German). 

When you live life solely from the perspective of working for a Fortune 500 startup provides, you don’t only miss out on the crazy shenanigans on BART, but you also miss out on the events and changes that inform how ordinary San Franciscans view their day to day lives, and ultimately how they want to govern their city. This ignorance often leads to the election of ill equipped candidates whose lack of understanding has led to ruin and despair in our beloved city. 

A prime example of a candidate that seems to fit this bill is Chesa Boudin, our current District Attorney. Born in New York City and raised in Chicago, Boudin is no native, and his controversial record here in San Francisco is currently the subject of an incensed public debate. As District Attorney, he has failed to address basic, serious issues plaguing ordinary San Franciscans. He has failed to curb what NBC calls “the highest car break-in rate of any major US city,” and would rather send victims of sexual assault surveys than prosecute their assaulters, according to the San Francisco Chronicle

This abysmal record only serves to prove that non-native candidates, especially those who have not participated in local communities and seen firsthand how the Bay Area has changed since their childhood, set themselves up for failure in every regard. Without a deeper understanding of the nuances that come from growing up in San Francisco, they instead seek to pander to voters like themselves, who have but superficial ties to the city and whose politics come not from a life well experienced, but from an idealized vision of our city. 

When it comes to politics, San Francisco doesn’t need vulture-like candidates looking to gorge on easy wins granted to them by gullible, ignorant voters. It needs grassroots heroes, ordinary folks fueled not by a desire for fame and riches, but by the urgent call to finally fix our city.