SAN FRANCISCO—Ellen Lee Zhou is continuing her mayoral campaign in anticipation of San Francisco’s election on Nov. 5, 2019. Zhou held a small campaign event on the steps in front of San Francisco City Hall on Feb. 25, continuing her advocacy for a safer and cleaner San Francisco.
Many of Zhou’s supporters held signs and banners that read “Ellen Lee Zhou Reduces Drug Abuse,” “Government Accountability,” “Build the Wall,” and so on. As Zhou is an immigrant herself, her message during this campaign event was to protect immigrants and families for a safer and cleaner city.
“We want freedom for everybody; we want to help. We’re not your enemies,” said Paul Taylor, former 2018 Senate candidate, who was also present at the event.
Zhou echoed this by saying that immigrants helped build the United States, and the country welcomes immigrants. Yet she stressed that people seeking to immigrate should abide by the law and enter the country legally with documentation, fill out the necessary forms, and undergo required medical testing. This would ensure the safety of both U.S. citizens and incoming immigrants.
In an interview after her campaign event, Zhou stated that fixing the issues of homelessness, widespread drug use, rent control, and overall citizen safety are her top priorities.
San Francisco currently has approximately 7,500 homeless persons throughout the city. According to Zhou, the city spends nearly $2 billion on the homeless population, with most of the money going towards “free needles, illegal drugs, shelter, Medicare,” and other free city services, along with a cash sum.
Many of the homeless people on the streets are mentally ill, drug addicts, veterans, or working families unable to find housing.
However, “the other 20 percent [of homeless people] are called professional homeless. They come from other states or other cities, and [are] paid by their local government to come here to enjoy free resources,” said Zhou.
In addition to homelessness, uncontrolled drug and needle use is also a common sight on the streets of San Francisco, especially in the Tenderloin area.
The city supplies about 4.5 million needles to people in the city yearly. Despite city officials saying they are tired of needles littering the streets, the Department of Public Health’s 25-year-old needle exchange program continues to use taxpayer money to supply government-funded needles.
“I want the people to get off the drug; I want to help them. [City officials] don’t care if [people] live or die, but I do. Ellen Zhou feels the same way,” said Taylor.
With both homelessness and drug abuse running rampant in the city, Zhou expressed that she wants to help people. Instead of spending more taxpayer money supplying “free stuff” to people, the plan is to initiate “a street assessment to find out exactly how many and what are the needs” and provide specific help, explained Zhou.
People who are drug addicts or mentally ill will be provided with the necessary medical treatment, and those who have normal paying jobs but can’t find housing will receive help to a home.
Adding to the city’s problems, San Francisco has nearly 40,000 vacant housing units throughout the city. The city passed Proposition F in 2018, which approves city-funded legal services for tenants to sue their landlords at no cost to the tenants.
Due to fear of lawsuits, many landlords are leaving apartments vacant, leading to a decrease in available housing. To combat this problem, Zhou described a plan that removes rent control and uses mediation instead of lawsuits when people are faced with housing or rent problems.
“I will set up a new unit. The government will be taking care of the middle-person part. Whoever needs housing, they can register and see what kind of housing they need, and we will match up with the small property owners. The requirement is mediation, no lawsuits,” said Zhou.
Zhou reiterated that if she is elected mayor, her main concern is to make San Francisco cleaner and safer for residents and to bring law and order back into the city.
Zhou has been a San Francisco resident for 33 years. She has been working as a government social worker for more than 15 years and is a labor union representative for government employees. Zhou currently serves as the Director of Public Relations for the California Civil Grand Juror Association, San Francisco Chapter.