Newly formed Arab-American Democratic Club gets attention of SF mayoral candidates

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The newly formed Arab American Democratic Club now has a seat at the table in San Francisco politics. The group held a mayoral candidate forum Saturday night that attracted the four most prominent candidates.

"We're coming together as a community to let the mayoral candidates know that we should be taken seriously and that we deserve a seat at the table," said Joseph Sweiss, founder of the Arab American Democratic Club.

Chris Sweis, CEO of Yellow Cab, brought-up the issue of cabs and rideshares. Cab owners are required to buy a permit while Uber and Lyft aren't held to the same rules.

"They also sold those medallions to cab drivers at $250,000 a piece. They then turned around and gave the same right to TNC (rideshare) companies," said Sweis.

Candidate Jane Kim took his questions. "Yes, we gotta buy back the medallions," she said.

Small business was a theme.

"You know we have Philz Coffee, Ike's, we have a lot of huge businesses here and we do have an economic work force and more representation to come," said Sweiss.

Housing affordability is also a concern. Mark Leno proposed a fee on people who purchase real estate for investment then leave it unoccupied.

"Remember the good old days when you bought property because you wanted to live in it. They were called homes, but now housing has become an international market commodity," said Leno.

Every candidate addressed homelessness. London Breed proposed making it easier to force people into treatment.

"We're talking about people who are mentally ill who sadly are basically being left to die on our streets because we can't force them into treatment or force them into help," said Breed.

Angela Alioto also takes a controversial stance, doubling down on her initiative to remove felons from the City's sanctuary city protections.

"I'm very adamant about this I'm not backing down and I predict it'll have over 70-percent of San Francisco voting for it," said Alioto.

The mayoral special election takes place June 5th.
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