is definitely shaping up to be a major milestone in Iranian-American
participation in American politics. With Iranian-Americans
running for office in Oregon (www.ameriforcongress.com)
and Iranian-Americans running the previous campaigns of the
top 2 mayoral candidates in the San Francisco Mayor's race,
we seem to be stepping up to the challenges of self determination,
not just for our own community, but that of the general American
community at large.
enters Ross Mirkarimi (www.rossforsupervisor.org)
possibly the savviest political beast we've offered up yet.
Ross ran the recent closely fought campaign for San Francisco
Mayor by Green party candidate Matt Gonzalez. This after conducting
a pretty damn successful California campaign for Ralph Nader
in 2000 considering the odds. Ross knows that he has what it
takes to stand for office and best of all he knows exactly
what he wants to do. He's not looking for an issue to jump
on, he brings the issues to the table, and defines the stakes.
is the newest breed of Iranian, one that like me you may have
started seeing crop up now and then, more and more, and it
is a phenomenon that is puzzlingly intriguing.
let's get it out there and be done with it. He has never seen
Iran. He does not speak Farsi. But he is inherently Iranian.
And I'll tell you why in a second.
father was a good looking, independent Iranian and his mother
a 2nd generation sassy Russian-American. They met young in
Chicago, married young and shortly after Ross, divorced young.
The marriage did not last mainly due to their youth and Ross's
mother's family's inability to accept their daughter being
married to an Iranian, and not a Russian.
moved to Rhode Island with their mother and came to spend time
during the summers and other off-seasons with his Father in
Chicago. His father subsequently remarried and had 2 more sons,
Ross' half brothers. These times were spent in focused Iranian
cultural immersion, and whether he knew it or not, the seeds
of Iranian-ness were planted in Ross at an early age. There
to lay dormant until the right time and place. Which as you
will see is here and now.
has an outstandingly well rounded education having received
his bachelors in Political Science (what no Engineering!) from
Washington University and St. Louis University (where he graduated
as class president), a Masters in International Economics,
another Masters in Environmental Sciences! I'm tired just writing
all that down!
moved to San Francisco in 1984 and as he began to delve into
the world around him, soon became actively involved in local
social issues. So much so, that when the Green party began
to think of founding a California chapter, Ross took the baton
the rest of the way, planting the Green party flag straight
into the liberal heart of the Golden State in 1992.
after campaigning for the likes of Terence Hallinan, the infamously
outspoken liberal San Francisco DA, and with the recent close
election campaign he ran for the Green Party's other surprise,
Matt Gonzalez, Ross is ready to take his own steps forward,
by targeting one of the most important districts in San Francisco,
makes this district tough is that it spans a wide cultural
and class cross-section. Yuppy homeowners in Hayes Valley,
to the homeless in the Fillmore, a part of town steeped in
50's jazz history, to the still anti-establishment and alternate-idea
aging hippies in the famed Haight-Ashbury. Ross has to find
a way to honestly represent all of these people as their elected
City Supervisor, Tough isn't the half of it.
give this race an even bigger challenge, take the opponents.
Of the 30 odd candidates running for the spot, as you would
expect a San Francisco campaign to include, you name it there
is every shape and color to Transgendered (girl who became
a boy) candidates, almost everyone vying for the good share
of the LGBT community support, but who surprisingly do not
always vote as one. If you count Ross as a Green, that make
2 green party candidates.
while if you like me are now totally confused, speaking to
Ross about this, he is not phased in the least, which means
he has a plan up his sleeve on how he will win. And when you
talk to him it feels like it is a matter of fact that he will
win. Not that he's cocky, far from it, but his matter of fact
manner, his ability to have each step pre-planned and expected,
and his simple message approach, exudes that this is simplythe
best level headed can-do-right guy for the job. He has the
right kind of campaign for the right kind of constituency,
good looking young advocates wise beyond their years, who know
what is right for their future today. Attending a "Ross
for Supervisor" event is a lesson in modern grassroots-ism.
what makes him Iranian? When he has nothing tangible save the
lasting impression of a not too long gone Baba. Possibly in
this story he told me. After he helped Terence Hallinan secure
the DA's office in SF, as part of the incoming team, Ross decided
that he would help Hallinan in the prosecution of environmental
and white collar crime, by entering the Police Academy and
becoming a criminal investigator. One of the staunchest liberals
being essentially the head cop in a traditional big American
city police department culture, the local police establishment
was less then enthused by Hallianan's victory. To make revenge
even tastier, here was a minion entering their world. As Ross
explains it, "I spent many a night dropping and giving
them 20, as I explained why I was against the death penalty!" The
effort though showed his character and Ross emerged from the
academy with not only the respect but also with the leading
rank of his graduating class.
immediately pointed out, "That's exactly what makes you
Iranian, Ross." I said
do you say that?" He asked. You could tell he had needed
to hear this for a long time.
an Iranian has the brass to continue to mouth off even when
he has clearly lost advantage." I said, smiling as I thought
back on how many times I had seen this syndrome before. Here
it was happening all over again, and he didn't even know it.
he wins, I mean when he wins, I offer that he will
be one of the highest placed elected Iranian-Americans in the
country. I say this because cities are where we live, access
to power in the cities is very real access to political power.
The kind that matters. Even if we all lived in DC, having an
Iranian-Senator whose votes are ignored or trampled by the
other senators' is largely useless. Just look at the majority
who voted for the Patriot Act. But to those of us who live
here, reasonable access to Ross is huge.
interesting thing about Ross is that his politics are largely
pragmatic. Even though for him it's the closest thing to the
perfect Party, he is not necessarily a Green candidate anymore,
and many Republicans and Democrats will likely endorse him.
That may very well be the one Kalak he has planned for his
campaign, pragmatically qualified. It will certainly be a hurdle
for his opponents who are toeing the party line, to overcome.
attended the Green party's convention last month championing
the NOTA (None Of The Above) position as a protest vote against
both leading traditional party candidates Bush and Kerry. His
reasoning, well the Bush argument should be obvious, but among
other things that should concern everyone, Kerry doesn't seem
to understand that having the Green party in the last election
as well as this one, will not affect the success of the Democrats
as they fear. As long as they focus on the swing states and
the Republicans and stop worrying about and more importantly,
wasting energy on the Greens. The claim that Nader and the
Greens took votes away from Gore in 2000 is ludicrous and statistically
false, but paranoia's normal when it comes to a popularity
in the run up to this fall's national election there is more
at stake and more to gain than the grand theater being played
out on the national scene. Closer to home there is Arts Verit?
going on, down here on the street, where real people live and
to Mr. Mirkarimi's neighborhood.
you are in San Francisco and would like to meet Ross Mirkarimi,
you can on Thursday August 5th, 6:30-8:30 PM ,
at L'Entrecote restaurant, located at 2032 Union Street.
There is no charge for attending the event and for more information
you can call: 415-810-2008.
learn more about Ross Mirkarimi or to help his campaign,
please visit: www.rossforsupervisor.org