When I met for coffee with Dean Preston, candidate for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, he was accompanied by his campaign manager Jen Snyder. Snyder, who like Preston is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, was just then embroiled in a fresh internet controversy. She’d been spotted giving a hearty middle finger to a room full of Democrats, and a photo was making the rounds.
Later, when the San Francisco Examiner asked Snyder what the gesture was meant to signify, she answered, “It was definitely a ‘fuck you.’” Snyder was angry not because the San Francisco Democratic Party declined to endorse Preston — something neither she nor Preston necessarily expected — but because they endorsed his moderate opponent Vallie Brown, deepening Brown’s campaign’s pockets and setting new obstacles in Preston’s path.
Preston’s team had hoped and organized for a non-endorsement. They believed that the endorsement of Brown was a result of pressure applied by pro-business Democrat London Breed, current mayor of San Francisco and former Dean Preston opponent in the race for District 5 supervisor. In short, the Democratic Party had proven its hostility to progressives and democratic socialists yet again. Not a surprise — but a problem nonetheless for the working class of San Francisco.
Preston is a long-time tenant organizer who’s unafraid to agitate against the city’s real estate elite, saying things like, “We can’t continue taking crumbs from developers,” and “If you’re a rogue landlord, we should run you out of town.” I spoke to Preston about democratic socialism, San Francisco’s beleaguered but tenacious working class, the perils of means-testing public services, and what it means to really believe that housing is a human right.