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The Body Politic
Candidates guide to fashion

Alison Soltau and Tiffany Maleshefski
Of The Examiner Staff
Published on Friday, September 12, 2003

TODAY, LET'S put aside the club endorsements and the datebook and focus in on the too-often ignored realm of, what else? Mayoral fashion. This is Willie L. Brown Jr. who our darling candidates are trying to replace, let's not forget. In the spirit of bitchy English TV show hosts and Mr. Blackwell alike, we offer The Examiner Treatment of The Nine Who Would Rule:

Angela Alioto, striding on the campaign runway, has some advantages that her opponents lack. She bursts with charisma and personality, ensuring that fashion will always be secondary to her boisterous self. Angela's style is still more haphazard than high powered, and the flashy rocks adorning her fingers say this is a trial lawyer not afraid to show off a hefty bank balance (arriving at events in an immaculate black Benz doesn't hurt either). Certainly, her fashion borders on sloppy, but with this much stage presence even Donna Karen would be charmed. But please, Angela, ditch the ponytail. ... Matt Gonzalez, who competes here with Gavin Newsom for the "Mayor's Race Heartthrob" title, is the candidate best suited (ill suited?) for Bravo's "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." Pinstripe suits seem to be one of his fave frocks to flaunt, which isn't a bad call (vertical stripes are slimming). But add to that his striped shirts and downright ugly ties and the whole package is less than the sum of its parts, nearly defraying the cuteness points. Our word to Matt: solid shirts with pinstripe suits, and ties with sharp patterns (i.e. vertical stripes) to match and never button the suits. You live in the Haight, haven for John Fluevog for crying out loud! It's not just patchouli and corduroy anymore. ...

If Matt gets chosen for "Queer Eye" let's hope they don't send Tom Ammiano. While Ammiano can present himself as cute as a button in his public appearances, he can't get away from looking like a high school principal. Spotting him out in his humdrum sports coats and neutral colored slacks makes us feel like we're late to class. It's only a matter of time before he settles into some Mr. Roger's Neighborhood zip-up sweaters and Hush Puppy loafers. ... Now Susan Leal, she's another picture, completely in touch with her inner-fashion-self. Let's face it; it's always tougher for women candidates to dress themselves than it is for men. Flashy colors? Skirts or suits? Feminine or gender-neutral? Leal manages to do both. With smart suits with great lengths and cuts for a mature body, Leal knows what looks good on her, and we are definitely noticing. The perfectly placed pearls. The tasteful, muted shades. The TV newscaster-style bob framing the face. It's a look as balanced as the Treasury books she presides over. ... And then there's Gavin. OK, when you've got money your job of looking hot just got a whole lot easier. Gavin's suits seem tailored for his trim physique and clearly a cinematographer has been hired to tell him which colors look good under which lights. Even down to his socks, Gavin's look is always perfectly polished and if image is everything (as we know it is) his fashion sense might win him the race. But if we were to find flaw with the man, it would be to say that his style is relentlessly '80s Brat Pack -- a tad production line. Perhaps a fitting metaphor for a man a little scared to stray from the well-rehearsed political spiel? And the abundant hair product is a sign of a candidate not campaigning on the ozone layer (had to go there). And a pointer to the Newsom image crew-- if you're going to shine up the guy's hair, do not forget the shoes...

With his chipper, upbeat persona complemented by a clean, borderline buzz-cut hairstyle, neatly combed to the right like a schoolboy, Jim Reid is halfway there. The central message of his platform seems to be "I'm a building contractor," so why not take a fashion cue from that other man who is practical and gets things done -- Bob the Builder. Jim, you need to build up a cult following in the same way, so we suggest a neat pair of white overalls accessorized with a power drill to show that you are ready to put your mallet where your mouth is at any time. And perhaps a campaign slogan inspired by Bob the Builder's can-do TV show theme song. "The homeless problem -- can we fix it, yes we CAN!" ... Michael Denny must turn the wardrobe dial each morning to either "dignified, thoughtful businessman" or "anti-establishment fringe candidate." We've spotted Denny on the trail in jeans and a floppy canvas hat, and behind the podium in safe, conservative suits. The former look screams World War I trench-bound soldier, which may help him reach out to the veteran vote, but hits no sartorial high notes in The City. ... Perhaps it would be best for Tony Ribera to go to the San Francisco Police Department and ask nicely if they will let him get back into the police chief's snappy, black, well-pressed, pseudo-military uniform. Maybe Earl Sanders will donate his to a worthy cause. Tony, you need to find a look that says 'I was powerful once, and I can be again'. ... Roger Schulke, sorry, we almost forgot you. The invisible man. Roger, to help you stand out we suggest the following options: either try one of those zany, primary-colored suits favored by used car dealers and game show hosts, or go butt naked. Or get a professional image consultant; we're fresh out of ideas.

Mayorís Race

Candidates face off with Newsom absent

From ashtrays to Muni, five of six candidates let opinions be known.

J.K. Dineen
Of The Examiner Staff

Published on Thursday, September 4, 2003

Angela Alioto wants ashtrays outside Haight Street bars. Jim Reid says 2,000 city gardeners could live in parks in the little 8X10 "Shelter One" houses he builds. Matt Gonzalez wants large chain stores banned from Hayes Valley and Cole Valley.

Those are some of the opinions -- some familiar and some novel -- that flew at University of California, San Francisco Cole Hall Wednesday night in "SF 5 Together" sponsored mayoral debate.

With school back in session, a fall chill in the air, and bright campaign signs jockeying on Parnassus Street outside of UCSF, it indeed felt like election season in District 5 Wednesday night. Seven of the eight mayoral candidates made the event with frontrunner Supervisor Gavin Newsom a no-show.

"Gavin might be at the symphony, there is a gala opening there tonight," joked moderator Michael Krasny, host of KQED's "Forum."

In fact, Newsom campaign worker Paul Shanley said Newsom had previously scheduled house parties and a fundraiser.

"He is doing over 40 forums and we made the decision not to cancel the fundraiser," said Shanley.

The crowd contained enclaves of Alioto, City Treasurer Susan Leal and Supervisor Tom Ammiano partisans, but supporters of Gonzalez dominated, as the debate took place in his home district.

In general the remarks were not focused on District 5 issues, although there were notable exceptions.

Alioto said she had recently cleaned up Haight Street on Saturday morning with a group of her volunteers and was bothered by the piles of cigarette butts outside the bars.

"Unbelievable smoking goes on outside the bars, thanks to my smoking ban," she said. "The bars on Haight Street need to have ashtrays outside where they put their damn cigarettes with all due respect."

Leal added, "San Francisco spends $30 million on cleaning streets and the streets don't in any way appear to be clean." She said the next mayor needs to coordinate the cleaning efforts of all city departments. "For $30 million our streets should be cleaner."

The candidates all spoke out against the recent Muni increase, which jacked fares up to $1.25 and $45 for a monthly pass. Alioto called the increases "baloney." Reid said he had written "a cute little two-minute song" against the fare increase.

"If we're going to get people out of their cars, we're going to have to make Muni extraordinary," said Reid.

Tony Ribera, the former police chief and lone Republican in the field, said he thinks Muni has improved under the leadership of current director Michael Burns.

"I think Michael Burns has done tremendous job, and should have his contract extended," said Ribera.

Gonzalez, who voted for the fare increase in the face of a $350 million budget deficit, said he now is working to revoke it.

"At the time we voted on the Muni budget we didn't know how we were going to patch things up," said Gonzalez. "In politics you do have regrets and one of the things you do is you step forward and try to reverse. I want to be honest about that."

The ideas of libertarian candidate Michael Denny were received with undiluted scorn, although he won some laughs and even some claps for his fearlessness for putting forth his anti-government ideas in the face of a progressive crowd.

After Denny said that San Francisco should not be in the health care business, Alioto called him "one gutsy guy."

"He's added some spice to these debates, which are otherwise pretty bland," said Alioto.