Ammiano Says Bye Bye to SF After 14 Years

Tom Ammiano going to State Assembly after Tuesday victory

Democratic San Francisco Supervisor Tom Ammiano swept into the state assembly in Tuesday's election, marking the close of a 14-year career on the city's Board of Supervisors.

Ammiano defeated the Republican candidate, attorney Harmeet  Dhillon, with nearly 84 percent of the vote, according to preliminary  election results, to fill the 13th District assembly seat representing the  eastern and northern half of San Francisco.

Ammiano, a former teacher, was one of the board's progressive voices since his election in 1994, following a stint on the city school board. He twice served as president of the Board of Supervisors.

The election to supervisor and subsequent assassination in 1978 of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man in the country elected to a major political office, was an early influence in Ammiano beginning his own political career, he has said.

Ammiano, who has also championed gay and lesbian causes during his tenure on the board, cites among his accomplishments his spearheading of legislation providing benefits to domestic partners in companies doing business with San Francisco.

He also helped pass San Francisco's new universal health care program for the uninsured, and supported reform of the police commission and living wage standards for residents.

One of his most significant achievements, he believes, was a measure he put on the ballot that changed citywide elections for supervisor to district elections.

"I think it makes it more populist," he said. "We are a populist city...people are very hands-on here, and I think they wanted the neighborhoods to be more recognized than under the city system."

Also serving on the Golden Gate Bridge district board of directors, Ammiano said he was "very gratified" to be able to recently approve a suicide barrier on the bridge.

As the District 9 supervisor representing parts of the Mission, Bernal Heights and Portola districts, diverse areas that include a large Latino population, Ammiano in 2007 initiated a citywide ID program aimed at providing services to those who lack government-issued identification, including undocumented immigrants. The program will likely go into effect in early 2009, he said.

The 66-year-old Ammiano said he intends to take his experience at the local level to the state, fighting for universal health care, funding for education, transportation and infrastructure projects, and environmental causes.

Of his time on the board, Ammiano said he has no regrets and is looking forward.

"I think 14 years is a big chunk of time, and I'm ready," he said.

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