SF Politics 101 > SF Politics Overview

SF Politics Overview

SF Overview

What are the basics? | Influencing both California and federal politics | The birth of a thriving tech sector | “Techlash” in SF | Even in the Innovation Capital, tech can’t fix everything! | How does sf.citi fit into the fabric of SF?


San Francisco, The City by the Bay, has always been a destination in high demand, whether it be the missionaries who settled here in the 1700s, the prospectors who came during the gold rush in 1849 (ahem 49ers), the outcasts who arrived during the Summer of Love, or today’s burgeoning population of techies. Motivation has changed over time, yet one constant remains: San Francisco represents a place where people come to live in hopes of experiencing a better and more prosperous way of life


What are the basics?

Known across the country as the model progressive city, politics in San Francisco has a greater influence on the culture and fabric of the city than in most places across the country. Two unique qualities can take credit for helping shape San Francisco into the political hotbed it is today. First, San Francisco is the only consolidated city-county in the state of California. As such it operates as a municipal corporation in its city capacity, and as the administrative division of a state when operating in its county capacity. Thus, San Francisco holds the powers and responsibilities of both identities. Second, San Francisco functions as a “strong mayor” government body, operating with one mayor, a Board of Supervisors, and several elected officials. While all other cities in California hold an independent City Council, as well as a Board of Supervisors, to oversee county-level decisions, in San Francisco everything is a county-level decision. Is this why they say San Francisco operates in a bubble? Perhaps.

In this approximate seven-by-seven-mile slice of the Bay Area, there exists an ongoing political tussle between different shades of Democrat blue known as “progressive” and “moderate.” Yes, there are San Francisco residents that are Republican, but let's be honest, they are few and far between. In fact, according to the San Francisco Department of Elections, as of June 2019 the percentage of registered Republicans sits at a mere 6.5 percent citywide.1 As for the distinction between moderate and progressive Democrats, Mayor Breed said it best back when she served as Supervisor:

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