Councilmember James Coleman discusses his election and his plans going forward

Newly-elected South San Francisco District 4 Councilmember James Coleman gave insight into his plans regarding COVID-19 financial relief, climate change and how being the youngest, first openly queer and first democratic socialist elected will shape his policies

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James Coleman

South San Francisco District 4 Councilmember James Coleman was elected Nov. 3, making him the council’s youngest, first queer and first socialist member in its history. In an exclusive interview with The Skyline View, he discussed how his unique perspectives influence his plans regarding affordable housing, climate change and COVID-19 relief.
“I think this is the first time that a city council member with these perspectives and life experiences is going to be on a city council — So, I think you will see a lot more policies that really have concern over the working-class residents of South San Francisco, as well as young people, people of color and people with varying sexual orientations and sexualities,” Coleman said.
He proceeded to discuss the benefit and challenges that he might face with being the youngest, first queer and first democratic socialist council member of South San Francisco. A challenge he pointed out was the fact that this will be a “new sphere” for him, since many of his political experiences were from being part of grassroots organizations.
“A benefit is that I know what the youth want,” Coleman said. “I know what activists on the ground want, and I am very excited to bring that perspective to the city council and push ideas that have not been considered for the past few years.”
He then gave some advice for young people who might want to run for city council or mayor and be 100% grassroots like he was.
“Go out and do it,” he said. “There really is not much stopping you if you are able to do it then definitely give it a shot if you are concerned over the future of the city.”
He described his affordable housing plans, touching on the fact that South San Francisco and California in general have a housing shortage.
“There really is a need to build affordable housing, and truly affordable housing — (Housing) that matches the working class character of our city … because our city has a track record of many private developers coming to our city, building housing, promising affordable housing, but walking back with promises and later building luxury housing units,” Coleman said.
He also spoke on his climate change plans, and expressed his beliefs that South San Francisco is not doing enough in regards to the issues of climate change and that wildfire season has become a bigger issue recently in California — something that will affect us and future generations in the Bay Area.
“It’s looking more so, policy-wise, that we can follow in the footsteps of Berkeley and ban old natural gas,” Coleman said. “And for future construction, we can phase out natural gas in our current cities’ infrastructure; we can also build roads and better city infrastructure to accommodate vehicles, pedestrians, and bikers; and just make sure that all city operations are done in a green and an environmentally-sustainable manner.”
He then discussed his COVID-19 financial relief plan, and how he thinks that it is important for South San Francisco to help their residents tackle the many financial issues they are facing due to the pandemic.
“Our federal government has been largely failing the people when it comes to COVID relief,” he said. “I think that our city needs to help the many residents in navigating the coronavirus pandemic, the current economic crisis and the record high unemployment levels. I think that our city should enact eviction moratoriums for the duration of the pandemic, and provide mortgage assistance to small homeowners, and other assistant payments for small businesses who are suffering right now.”

To listen to the complete interview, click here.