Vice president elect, Kamala Harris, embodies the best of San Francisco Values as she has shown throughout her public service career. An example is easy to observe through the eyes of all who know her.
President elect Joe Biden selected Harris as his running mate after a summer of frustrations over the coronavirus pandemic and protests for racial equity. Harris had been a leader on both fronts, helping draft Democrats’ legislation on police reform and focusing the party on the disproportionate effect of the pandemic on Black and Brown people.
- Harris was elected to the Senate the same night Donald Trump unexpectedly won the presidency in 2016, prompting her to throw out her planned speech and speak about progressives’ need to fight for their values. She became on of the fiercest opponents of Trump’s administration in the Senate, voting against most of his nominees and policies
- Harris was the first woman and first Black person to be attorney general of California, barely winning her race in 2010, then cruising to re-election four years later. In 2011 she pulled out of a proposed settlement with more than a dozen states so that she could get more money from banks in a lawsuit over the 2008 foreclosure crisis-and she succeeded, ultimately bringing $20 billion to California.
- After serving as a San Francisco and Alameda County prosecutor, Harris unseated San Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan in 2003, becoming the first woman and person of color to win the job. Harris was a pioneer on some fronts, including developing arguments to beat the so-called “gay panic defense” in hate crimes against LGBT people.
- Harris began her presidential campaign before an estimated 20,000 people in Oakland in January 2019, the campaign’s high point came in June, when Harris confronted Biden on a debate stage about his 1970s opposition to mandatory busing to desegregate schools and her experience with being one of the first Black children at Berkeley elementary school in those years.
“My mother, Shyamala, raised my sister, Maya, and me to believe that it was up to us-and every generation of Americans-to keep on marching. She’d tell us, `Don’t just sit around and complain about things. Do something. `”
Harris follows the mantra she made to herself with:
“Every step of the way, I’ve been guided by the words I spoke from the first time I stood in a courtroom:
Kamala Harris, for the people.”
Geri Spieler is the co-author of San Francisco Values: Common Ground For Getting America Back On Track (Palmetto Publishing Group)