Of the four candidates in the race for California’s 17th Assembly District, David Campos has the longest resume in San Francisco politics. A onetime District 9 Supervisor who was first elected in 2008, he’s served in a number of government and political roles in and around the city.
Campos enjoys strong support from elected officials and groups identified with the city’s progressive political wing, including six members of the Board of Supervisors (Connie Chan, Aaron Peskin, Gordon Mar, Dean Preston, Rafael Mandelman and Hillary Ronen), the San Francisco Tenants Union, and the San Francisco Berniecrats. Organizations endorsing Campos include UNITE HERE Local 2 and the California Latino Legislative Caucus.
In addition to his two terms on the Board of Supervisors, Campos has served as a San Francisco Police Commissioner, a Deputy City Attorney, General Counsel to San Francisco Unified School District, and as a Deputy County Executive in Santa Clara. He is a longtime member and former chair of San Francisco’s Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC), the local governing body of the Democratic Party, and vice-chairs the California Democratic Party.
Campos links his political goals to a personal story that began in Guatemala, which he fled with his family at age 14 to escape political turmoil. After settling in Southern California, Campos learned English, succeeded in school and eventually graduated from Stanford University while undocumented. He then attended Harvard Law School, where he met his husband.
While serving on the Board of Supervisors from 2008 until 2016, Campos was involved in an array of laws and initiatives with citywide and neighborhood-specific impact.
In an interview with the SF Standard, Campos pointed to work on San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy, and on healthcare, transportation and energy as some of his keystone achievements. Campos introduced CleanPowerSF, which established a city-run energy purchasing program with the goal of funding clean energy infrastructure, in 2012.
As supervisor, Campos also advanced free Muni passes for youth, worked to expand San Francisco’s sanctuary city ordinance, and closed a loophole in the city’s Healthy SF program, which required businesses with 20 or more employees to set aside funds for a city-run health care program. He also worked to establish the Latino Cultural District in the Mission, and sought to enact a moratorium—dubbed the ‘Mission Moratorium’—on market-rate housing development in his district.
Most recently, Campos was chief of staff to District Attorney Chesa Boudin before taking a leave of absence in November. He defended his record with the office and said that he believes most San Franciscans want criminal justice reform, as well as safety.
“I believe in criminal justice reform, which is the reason why I left my job in Santa Clara to work in the district attorney’s office to push that,” said Campos. “I also think that San Franciscans want…results in terms of public safety. And that’s part of the effort that we have tried to emphasize and tried to do as chief of staff.”
If elected to the assembly, Campos told the SF Standard that the legislators should consider a statewide bond to build affordable and middle-income housing: “I’m not against market rate housing, but I think that there has to be a balance. And for that balance to include affordable housing, state government has a role to play,” Campos said.
Campos noted, however, that his first bill in Sacramento will be a California ‘Medicare for All’ bill, intended to set in motion a single-payer system in California. An earlier bill, AB 1400, was introduced last year but did not make it out of committee. Campos said he would work to re-introduce and build support for the proposal, which calls for a public program that would administer health care benefits to all Californians.
Campos has also called for a Green New Deal, which he described as an initiative to create climate and infrastructure-focused jobs with a focus on communities most impacted by the pandemic.
“I know that the federal government is trying to do Build Back Better. I think that we need to do what I would call Build Back Fairer, by focusing on these communities that were hurt the most,” said Campos. “As California, we should have our own infrastructure project.”
On education, Campos has said that he doesn’t support the recalls of school board president Gabriela López and commissioner Faauuga Moliga, but has a different view of commissioner Alison Collins: “For very personal reasons, and I’m married to someone who’s a member of the API community who was really hurt by the comments of Commissioner Collins…I can’t in good conscience support” her, Campos told the SF Standard. Campos was referring to past offensive tweets by Collins about Asian-American students and families, which resurfaced earlier this year.
Read more about Campos’ campaign here.
Annie Gaus can be reached at [email protected]