The Eric Quesada Story: Not Compromising Himself
Thursday, October 2, 2008;
"I think that in order to win you have to talk a certain way, without compromising yourself,"said San Francisco Candidate for District 9 Supervisor, Eric Quezada, during POOR's monthly Community Newsroom, on August 8th, 2008.
Quezada was interviewed by all of POOR's poverty scholars, writers, and journalists present, regarding his candidacy run for the upcoming November 4th Election for the current seat of incumbent, District 9 Supervisor Tom Ammiano.
POOR's co-founder/my mentor, "Tiny" Lisa Gray-Garcia no-nonsensely navigated the meeting, in her normal fashion by ensuring that all questions asked to Quezada were quick enough for everyone to ask.
"I come from revolutionary politics." said Quezada. "I came into radical politics at an early age. If I win, I want my office to be a tool for the movement. Tell no lies and claim no easy victories." When he was asked about the affordable housing and displacement(s) situation regarding S.F's poor population, Quezada replied, "We're trying to slow down gentrification and get more affordable housing."
A native San Franciscan, Eric Quezada is a longtime community and housing activist in San Francisco's Mission and Bernal neighborhoods. Prior to joining Dolores Street Community Services in the fall of 2005, Eric worked for the Mission Housing Development Corporation, co-founder of the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition (MAC) and the Mission Economic Development Agency. Quezada also serves on the Board of Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center and PODER (People Organized to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights).
In the 90's during the Dot.Com boom, Eric Quezada took the lead on challenging live/work development in the Mission in the 90’s and has worked since on stopping the gentrification of the neighborhood.
Before and after, he has been at the forefront of the District's most pressing issues, ranging from affordable housing, immigrant rights, family services, economic development, and environmental justice.
"What makes me stand out against the other candidates (S.F Police Commissioner, David Campos, and Mark Sanchez) is that I've been working on these issues for twenty years."
Eric Quezada also expressed his feelings on the treatment of poor people living in affordable housing and S.R.Os (Single Room Occupancy) Hotels, in the face of law enforcement abuse by police officers. (Which I knew far too well from my own experience in October 7th, 2005..) "I think that just because you live in affordable housing doesn't mean that your constitutional rights are to be left at the door." he said.
At the People's Rally on July 10th, 2008 at San Francisco City Hall, residents of the Mission, South of Market, Potrero Hill, and Chinatown flooded its steps. Myself, and POOR were there to re-port and su-port the rally, among other neighborhood community activists. The people in attendance were fed up with the zoning/owning plans that were exchanged, between the S.F Planning Department, and the S.F Planning Commission, and how it would possibly have an "eminent domain" affect on their neighborhoods. Present in the crowd was Eric Quezada, in support of the rally.
The topic shifted to the destructive issue of the criminalization of S.F's poor, a discussion that proved lengthy. A recent proposal by S.F Mayor Gavin Newsom for a court strictly for S.F's homeless population for "misdemeanor offenses" was approved for funding by the S.F Board of Supervisors, despite objections and protests of many.
As a result of Newsom's "proposal" and its support by numerous S.F. Board of Supervisors, the Community Court Justice Center (defined by POOR as Poverty Court.) was born, on June 22nd, 2008. In response, Quezada suggests that, "What should really happen is organizing the supervisors."
Quezada discussed the treatment of S.F's youth population, regarding the very racist and classist "gang injunctions" introduced by the San Francisco City Attorney's Office, a little over a year ago. "It was all about getting money from Homeland Security while trying to keep new residents safe, during targeted gentrified areas in S.F. All it really does is lead to more racial profiling."
Towards the end of the interview, Quezada discussed how he felt about non-profit developers profiteering off of poor people's lives. "Holding non-profit developers accountable actually got me into trouble." Quezada said, in reference to his employment at Mission Housing Development Corporation. "There are developer fees and these developer fees should be coming back into the community. To say we (S.F.) are going to give 400 acres to Lennar Corp is crazy. The Mayor's Office on Housing is always putting funding on big sites."