|Member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from District 6|
January 8, 2011
|Mayor||Gavin Newsom; Ed Lee|
|Preceded by||Chris Daly|
|Born||Jane Jungyon Kim
July 9, 1977 (age 37)
New York City, New York
|Residence||San Francisco, California|
|Alma mater||Stanford University
UC Berkeley School of Law
|Occupation||Civil rights attorney, politician|
Jane Kim (born Jane Jungyon Kim, July 9, 1977) is an American civil rights attorney and politician, the first Korean American elected official in San Francisco. She represents San Francisco's District 6 on the Board of Supervisors. District 6 comprises the Civic Center, Mission Bay, South of Market, the Tenderloin, Alcatraz Island, Treasure Island, and Yerba Buena Island.
Early life and education
Jane Jungyon Kim was born on the island of Manhattan in New York City on July 9, 1977, to parents who immigrated to the U.S. from Seoul, South Korea, in 1971. Her grandfather was a prominent prosecutor in Seoul, and her father served the District Attorney's office in New York as a prosecutor. Kim grew up learning both the English and Korean languages. At age 14, Kim began studying taekwondo, eventually earning a black belt. She was involved with community activism, especially the issue of homelessness. She decided in high school to stop reciting the Pledge of Allegiance—she rejected the Pledge words "with liberty and justice for all" because that goal was not available to all Americans.
Kim graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor's degree in Political Science and Asian American Studies. She settled in San Francisco in the late 1990s and in 2005 enrolled in the UC Berkeley School of Law. Kim earned a law degree, and was admitted to the State Bar of California in December 2009.
After finishing her Stanford studies, Kim worked as a consumer advocate at Greenlining Institute in Berkeley. She interviewed with Reverend Norman Fong, the leader of the Chinatown Community Development Center (CCDC) in 2000. Fong was doubtful she would fit the position of youth organizer, as she did not speak any Chinese languages. However, Kim successfully led an all-volunteer effort of San Francisco Chinatown youth cleaning up alleyways. Through her community organization efforts, she met power broker Rose Pak.
In 2005 Kim was elected president of the San Francisco People's Organization (SFPO), made up of many left-wing political groups. SFPO worked against several California ballot propositions in November 2005, and assisted with health care and affordable housing measures for San Franciscans through 2006.
San Francisco Board of Education
In 2003 while campaigning for Green Party mayoral candidate Matt Gonzalez, Kim felt too few female Asian-Americans were engaged in San Francisco politics. In 2004, she decided to run for the San Francisco Board of Education. In a field of 12 candidates seeking four seats, Kim came in seventh place; her bid failed in part because she was a member of the minority Green Party and did not have the backing of the Democratic Party. In 2006, Kim mounted a stronger campaign. She was endorsed by various politicians, unions, community groups and media, and she won, gathering the most votes of 15 candidates seeking three seats. In 2007 when she was sworn in she became the first Korean American elected official in San Francisco. Kim's election was part of a progressive shift in the school board. Fellow Green Mark Sanchez served as board president and progressive Kim-Shree Maufas was also elected.
In 2006, the school board took up the issue of whether to continue the 90-year-old Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) program in San Francisco high schools. The board voted to phase out the JROTC program over two years. In December 2006, previous to taking office, Kim learned about a death threat against her that was sent from a JROTC cadet to his friend on Facebook. The cadet had also used MySpace to threaten a high school girl who argued prominently against JROTC. Kim spoke to the cadet herself and reported that he sincerely regretted his actions. Kim took the position that the JROTC program should not be hosted by San Francisco as long as the U.S. military continued its "don't ask, don't tell" policy. In June 2008 Kim and Norman Yee submitted a proposal to accept JROTC programs as optional after-school activities, without giving students physical education (P.E.) credit toward graduation. In October, Kim proposed an alternative program called Student Emergency Response Volunteers (SERV) that would train students in emergency preparedness and disaster relief. The bid attempt to remove or replace JROTC failed in a 3(for)–4(against) vote held in May 2009.
In March 2008 Kim and Sanchez traveled to Israel as members of the U.S. Green Party to investigate whether the party should continue to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions program targeting Israel for its occupation of Palestine. Kim complimented a youth village program near Haifa, recommending its director be brought to San Francisco to help train educators.
Kim joined the Democratic Party in late 2008 after Barack Obama was elected president. In 2010, she was elected president of the Board of Education. As board president, Kim had to negotiate statewide budget cuts that resulted in a two-year shortfall of $113 million for San Francisco schools. She pushed for an ethnic studies program that had been under development for three years. Kim said that, with a budget of around $400 million, there should be some "flexibility to find funding" for the program.
San Francisco Supervisor
Kim had lived in various neighborhoods of San Francisco, including Polk Gulch, the Sunset and the Richmond. She moved to District 6 in 2009 in order to run for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and fill the seat being vacated by Supervisor Chris Daly. Kim announced her candidacy in January 2010, then she kicked off her campaign in June, at a party attended by former mayors Art Agnos and Willie Brown, as well as the President of the Board of Supervisors, David Chiu, who knew Kim from having shared housing in the Richmond district for more than two years. Kim ran against several candidates, including Theresa Sparks, who was endorsed by mayor Gavin Newsom, and veteran progressive Debra Walker, who was endorsed by the Democratic Party and most labor unions. When Brown contributed $5000 to the Kim campaign, some of her progressive supporters questioned whether Kim was being supported by a political machine. Kim's campaign was seen as having the approval of Rose Pak, but the California Democratic machine of the 1960s and '70s was "dormant".
Kim won the race for supervisor in an "upset" victory. When she was sworn in she became the first Korean American supervisor in the nation. She told KoreAm magazine that without the backing of labor unions and the media, and with her own Democratic Party endorsing her opponent, the only strategy she had available was the "old-fashioned" one of visiting as many constituents as possible. This was called Kim's "Fifty-Nine Precinct Strategy" (referring to Howard Dean's fifty-state strategy) because of the many neighborhoods of the district that were targeted. Less support came from the Korean community, who participated little in the election, than from Chinese American supporters, especially senior citizens in Chinatown, and a broad base of San Francisco youth.
Pledge of Allegiance
Kim stood up during the Pledge of Allegiance at Board of Supervisors meetings, but refused to recite it in keeping with the decision she had made in her youth. Within a few weeks of being sworn in, local and national news media carried the story of her refusal to recite the Pledge. She said in 2011 that one example of "liberty and justice" not being available to all Americans was normal civil and political rights not federally granted to homosexuals. On July 10, 2013, following the Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor, declaring unconstitutional the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Kim finally recited the Pledge along with the other supervisors. Kim said that, for her, DOMA had "symbolized th[e] inequity" of American justice.
Twitter tax break
Twitter is an online social networking service that was headquartered in District 6 on Folsom Street when Kim took office. In January 2011, Twitter announced it was considering moving a few miles south to the city of Brisbane because the company was expanding and needed ten times more space. Mayor Ed Lee indicated that he wanted Twitter to stay, so Kim led a team made up of mayoral staffers and Supervisor David Chiu to quickly shape a proposal which she sponsored in early February: Twitter would benefit from a six-year payroll tax exemption on net new jobs if it moved into the neglected and distressed mid-Market Street neighborhood of Kim's district. Talks centered on the company moving to the old Furniture Mart, a large Art Deco office building vacant since 2008. Kim's tax break proposal would apply to any large company willing to settle in the economically depressed area. Observers felt that this, Kim's first proposal as supervisor, signaled a break with her previous progressive record, to show a pro-business aspect. Former supervisor Chris Daly was critical; he said the plan could not help the city's budget shortfall, a serious problem resulting in jobs and services being cut. Agreeing with this assessment, Local 1021 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) also opposed the plan. Other businesses expressed anger that they would be unable to take advantage of the tax break. The city Controller's Office reported that the difference between Twitter leaving entirely or moving to mid-Market with the tax break was possibly worth $54 million in added revenue spread over 20 years.
In April 2011 the Board of Supervisors voted to approve the payroll tax exemption plan. Two weeks later, Twitter signed a ten-year lease on the Furniture Mart building. The Twitter tax break remained a defining issue in the San Francisco mayoral election of 2011: Incumbent Lee supported the exemption while challenger John Avalos criticized it. Lee retained his seat in the election. By June 2012, Twitter had settled 800 employees into the new location renamed Market Square, and Kim was invited to visit. She posted a photo of Twitter's new "micro health kitchen". Other tech companies such as Spotify, Yammer and Square, Inc. took advantage of the payroll tax exemption plan.
In 2010, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi represented District 5, which shared a confusing border with District 6. Mirkarimi, a fellow ex-Green Party member and progressive politician, accompanied Kim one day during her District 6 door-to-door campaigning in the border area. However, he did not fully endorse Kim—he "co-endorsed" both Kim and Walker, citing productive relationships with both.
Mirkarimi was elected sheriff in 2011, but he was soon embroiled in a controversy regarding violence allegations of him restraining his wife by grabbing and bruising her arm. For this he was suspended by Mayor Lee. About two out of three San Franciscans polled said they thought Mirkarimi should not be reinstated as sheriff. Despite this popular sentiment, in October 2012, Mirkarimi was reinstated through the votes of four progressive supervisors: Kim, Avalos, David Campos and Christina Olague. Kim said she voted to reinstate Mirkarimi because his wrongdoing was less than that described by the city charter as grounds for removal. On the other hand, she said she would support a recall election to remove Mirkarimi by popular vote. San Francisco Chronicle columnist C. W. Nevius criticized Kim's position as that of a "political weathervane," unworthy of a leader. San Francisco Bay Guardian editor Steven T. Jones was more supportive, describing how Kim was persistent in questioning Deputy City Attorney Sherri Kaiser to determine what misdemeanor might be considered too small for the mayor to dismiss any elected official. Kim explained to her supporters that her decision was based on Mirkarimi not abusing the power of his office to commit wrongdoing, a point required by the city charter. She also expressed her worry that the case would have set a precedent allowing the mayor too much power over elected officials. SF Weekly columnist Joe Eskenazi suggested that Kim's support for Mirkarimi kept her out of the running for president of the board of supervisors in 2014.
In March 2013 after Polish labor organizer Lech Wałęsa made anti-gay remarks, Kim announced that she would seek to rename San Francisco's tiny Lech Walesa Street. The narrow one-way street was originally named Ivy Street but was changed in 1983 to honor Wałęsa. Kim suggested that Gay Games co-founder Tom Waddell be honored instead of Wałęsa, especially since the Tom Waddell Health Center was at that location.
Kim has tackled several issues regarding the use of bicycles in San Francisco. While serving on the Board of Education, she supported new bike racks for eight middle schools, and she promoted "Bike-to-School Day". Though she never rode a bike in her childhood or at college, Kim told the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition in 2010 that she had been introduced to the city's "bike culture" and was slowly learning how to ride, a process that heightened her awareness of bicycle safety concerns. On two Bike-to-Work Days in 2010 and 2011 she rode as a passenger on the rear of an extended bike, but on May 10, 2012, she pedaled herself to City Hall. With Mayor Lee, Kim backed the "Yerba Buena Street Life Plan" which was announced in 2011 for the area around Yerba Buena Gardens in District 6. The plan included new bike paths and more bike parking. In September 2013 when the San Francisco Police Department was criticized for its investigation of a cyclist fatality that happened the previous month, Kim requested a hearing to discuss improvements for such police procedures. Along with Supervisors Yee and Avalos, in January 2014 Kim called for the city to adopt a multifaceted bicycle and pedestrian safety initiative modeled after the Swedish Vision Zero program.
Environmental impact appeals reform
San Francisco supervisors had previously tried unsuccessfully to reform the process by which a citizen could use the 1970 California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) appeals process to challenge a building project on the basis of its environmental impact. In 2012 Supervisor Scott Wiener proposed new rules that would restrict such challenges. Bicycling advocate Ben Christopher was supportive of Wiener's proposal, citing one instance in 2005 when a single citizen held up the city's comprehensive bicycle plan. However, critics such as the Sierra Club said the proposed changes would weaken CEQA's protections. In April 2013 Kim proposed a competing set of reform rules which Eric Brooks of the Green Party reported as "more CEQA friendly." Wiener and Kim hammered out a proposal combining elements of both versions; this was passed unanimously by the Board in July 2013. Kim said the reformed rules would not prevent the public from "giving input" to construction projects.
Kim was selected by 7x7 magazine as one of "20 Hot 2010" persons in September 2010. She was pictured on the cover of SF Weekly in October 2010. Kim was featured on the cover of KoreAm magazine in February 2011. Nark magazine interviewed Kim in June 2012, asking her about her nightlife preferences. She said she appreciated the work of San Francisco Entertainment Commissioners who ease the friction between nightlife venues and local residents. Kim said wine and single-malt whiskey were drinks she enjoyed, especially Lagavulin.
Kim plays electric bass guitar and has performed with the all-female indie rock band Strangely at small San Francisco venues including the Brainwash Cafe and Laundromat. In 2000 she co-founded Locus Arts in San Francisco's Japantown, a non-profit gallery and media performance space formed to support Asian American art; the gallery eventually merged with Kearny Street Workshop. For the Asian American Theater Company she served on the board of directors. She helped to save Bindlestiff Studio, a place for Filipino arts in SoMa. Kim occasionally serves as a judge at poetry slam competitions held by Youth Speaks. In 2004 she said her favorite musical artists included the Quannum Projects, a collective of hip-hop musicians such as rapper Lyrics Born and hip-hop duo Blackalicious. In 2010 she said her favorite song was "Triumph" released in 1997 by the Wu-Tang Clan.
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