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Politics & Policy

The 6 best (and worst) Halloween costumes to skewer SF politics

San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin shared a photo on Oct. 16, 2022, of him swimming from Alcatraz back to the city. I Photo courtesy of Aaron Peskin

We’re a week out from Halloween, and the hunt for a good costume is getting real. The Haight has plenty of great thrift and vintage clothing stores, and the Mission has a handful of costume shops worth checking out. But we’re also in election season, which lends itself well to Halloween costumes laced with abstract political commentary. Here are six ideas.

A public bathroom proposed for San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighborhood—estimated to cost up to $1.7 million to build—had many in the city wondering if the toilet would be made out of gold. Here a gold-colored toilet is seen on Nov. 26, 2016. | Stu Spivack/Wikimedia/Creative Commons

The Golden Toilet

Sure, we might be two weeks out from a pivotal midterm election that will dictate the future of the city, the rights of women and LGBTQ+ people and the fate of democracy and a burning hot planet, but just about all the talk at San Francisco City Hall last week focused on the $1.7 million price tag to install a public bathroom in Noe Valley. 


Chronicle columnist Heather Knight broke the story about the costly commode, which received state officials’ sign-off until national and global headlines prompted Gov. Gavin Newsom to place an indefinite hold on funding. Assemblymember Matt Haney called off a press conference to tout the toot temple and said he agreed that the dollar amount was absurd, which then sparked a contentious war of words with Rec and Parks general manager Phil Ginsburg. 

Regardless of whether Noe Valley gets its new bathroom, dressing up as a toilet might not be your first choice for a Halloween costume—even if it’s a sexy toilet. Maybe keep this idea in your back pocket as a No. 2.

A cylindrical metal trash bin is on a city sidewalk, next to which is an empty alcohol bottle. In the background, people wait at a bus or tram stop.
One of San Francisco’s new trash cans looks on next to a bottle of Seagrams Gin near the intersection of Market Street and Van Ness Avenue on Sept. 13, 2022. | Joe Burn/The Standard

Drunk, Bougie Trash Can

If you think the toilets in this city are expensive, have you heard about our fancy new fleet of trash cans? It turns out these little debutantes can get pretty pricey, as the city has now spent more than four years and a half-million dollars on prototypes for new garbage receptacles.

The Standard even caught one of the trash cans—which run between $11,000 and $20,900 each—sitting around drunk and empty, doing absolutely nothing next to an empty bottle of gin. Just flagrant.

Mohammed Nuru, the disgraced former director of Public Works, speaks on the steps of City Hall during a rally held in San Francisco on Oct. 15, 2019. | Photo by Lea Suzuki for The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images | Source: Lea Suzuki/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

‘Mr. Clean’

Speaking of dirty work, the City Hall corruption scandal that exploded just weeks before the start of the pandemic lockdown appears to be nearing an end after the August sentencing of former Public Works head Mohammed Nuru

The man nicknamed “Mr. Clean” turned out to be pretty freaking dirty, and a judge gave Nuru seven years in prison after he pleaded guilty to fraud and admitted to taking bribes from a range of city contractors, including trash giant Recology.

The best part of this costume is you only have to shave your head, throw on a ball cap and glasses, pencil on a mustache and then violate the trust of every San Franciscan.

A screenshot of a draft resignation letter from Scott Heldfond. The letters were voided on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, after the City Attorney’s Office deemed them "inconsistent" with SF law. | Courtesy of the Mayor's Office

Signed, Sealed, Undelivered

Mayor London Breed’s practice of having appointees submit signed yet undated resignation letters—in the event that she wanted them gone—has been scrapped. But who wouldn’t want to party on All Hallow’s Eve and be constantly confused with a TPS report?

Zombie Boudin

Many suspect the progressive prosecutor who voters recalled this June is just biding his time until next year’s election before trying to win back his job as district attorney. That would be quite a comeback for Chesa Boudin and a real morale booster for the Public Defender’s Office.

Former District Attorney Chesa Boudin addresses his supporters at The Ramp in San Francisco on June 7, 2022. Boudin was recalled as voters approved Prop H. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

But appointed DA Brooke Jenkins—who quit Boudin’s office before serving as an unpaid spokesperson for the recall, which was totally separate from the six-figure salary the same recall backers paid her to do research—might have something to say about that.

Jenkins finished first in The Standard’s voter poll, and many expect her to retain the job to serve out the remainder of Boudin’s term. Or you could go as challengers Joe Alioto Veronese or John Hamasaki, which is basically the Halloween costume equivalent of putting your browser on incognito mode.

San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin shared a photo on Oct. 16, 2022, of him swimming from Alcatraz back to the city. I Photo courtesy of Aaron Peskin

Aquaman Aaron Peskin

Christmas came early this year when Supervisor Aaron Peskin, aka “The Bearded One,” blessed Twitter with a picture of him bobbing like an apple in the bay.

And for those who think this is some kind of a one-off, feel free to take a trip back down Memory Lane for this shapely Speedo photo sesh of Peskin.