Hey there, San Francisco.
On Monday, I spoke with Bilal Mahmood, one of four candidates vying to represent the eastern part of San Francisco in our state’s capital.
As a reminder, the primary election for San Francisco’s vacant State Assembly seat is February 15.
Bilal has an interesting background. Out of school, he worked in the Obama Administration’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. And most recently, he was the head of product at the analytics company, Amplitude.
You can read more about his background here. OR, better yet, you can listen to our full interview above.
Here’s how to navigate the recording and some quotes that stood out to me:
1:42: What exactly is the state assembly?
Bilal Mahmood (BM): “I think one of the major things that people don't really recognize is that federal policy predominantly figures out how to allocate spend across the country. It's the states and the municipalities that execute on it. And so, deciding on who's in your State Assembly...is effectively one of the most important positions to vote for because it's basically deciding where the money is being spent.”
4:02: The interesting context behind this special election (which came about when David Chiu left office to become San Francisco’s City Attorney).
BM: “For a lot of the issues that affect us—climate and inequality and housing prices and the ability to have the upward middle class—we're reaching a ticking time bomb over the next 10 years…[The election] is going to affect one of the last decades we have left to have critical policy going into effect.”
9:35: Why Bilal thinks he can execute better than his opponents.
BM: “Most elected officials have never managed an office or operated a business. And so, if you haven’t operated or lived that experience, how can you govern in the best interest of small business policy?...If you've never managed a budget, how can you actually manage a fiscal budget?...[Also] I'm not a career politician. I'm not doing this job to chase higher office.”
12:30: One thing he wants to change in San Francisco.
BM: “The one thing I really want to do for San Francisco is return San Francisco to be a beacon of hope for the middle class and people struggling to make it into the middle class...It's ensuring you have affordable housing, good public transit, sense of security and safety, and good public schools.”
16:00: Some unique/controversial pillars of his campaign.
BM: “I do strongly believe in guaranteed income as a way to help lift up folks who are left behind…[Also] I feel that we should be charging [fentanyl] dealers with manslaughter and increasing the rate of prosecution on [them] because...fentanyl is effectively a loaded gun...The people who are dealing [fentanyl] need to be charged commensurate to the crime they're committing.”
23:00: Bilal explains more about his background/interests.
BM: “Pretty big anime fan growing up, watched everything from Cowboy Bebop to Evangelion…[Also] a weird eclectic sense of music. Listen to a lot of Hans Zimmer soundtracks but a lot of pop music [too].”
29:55: Why he thinks he can actually win.
BM: “Change happens when you don't listen to the odds. You create your own odds...Odds are always based on past behavior and past data. If you evaluated the odds, you'd never try something different.”
33:30: Bilal’s final word.
BM: “The stakes are too high to wait for another orange sky. We need to have radically different approaches to address these challenges because traditional politics isn't going to solve them.”
Like I mentioned above, give the full interview a listen (around 37 minutes) if you have some time tonight or over the holiday weekend. Also, I’m working to line up interviews with the other candidates in the State Assembly race, so I’ll make sure to keep you updated on that soon.
Alright, talk soon y’all. - Nick B.