Many tech workers in San Francisco have a new side effect: Local politics

Many industrialists, founders, and investors who often withdrew from politics have had a sudden and aggressive interest in the San Francisco government.


Like many technical staff arriving in San Francisco, Siva Raj viewed himself as a politician when it came to local affairs - at least for a while.

Born in India, she arrived at the American Institute of Technology in 2016 during the recent boom and spent most of her time working on the health app she had developed.

"It's an old technology job - running my start, completely out of politics," he said.

That changed last year. A father of two, Raj watches as San Francisco public schools are still heavily closed last year during the violence as other districts and private schools reopen. He and his colleagues began following the school board, which was at war at the time in the war to rename schools, including one named after Lincoln. He was confused.

That frustration turned into action. Raj, 49, is now leading an effort to oust three school board members in a by-election to be canceled in February - the first by-election of any local San Francisco official since 1983.

"This is no ordinary political campaign," he said. “We have a real, critical crisis now. Our children are at risk. ”

And you have a company. Many technology industry workers, founders and investors who often withdrew from local politics have taken a quick and intense interest in the San Francisco government in a way that could bring the city back to national transformation. Many of these newcomers to local politics consider themselves left-handed as they refer to some of the country's top officials on issues ranging from crime and schools to housing shortages and small business regulations.

Technology workers and emerging capitalists are helping to advance the campaign to remember Regional Attorney Chesa Boudin, a rising star, and last year some joined the unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the Gov. Gavin Newsom. (Both Boudin and Newsom are Democrats.)

Siva Raj and his colleague, Autumn Looijen, donated shopping bags to the San Francisco School Board they remember information about.

Siva Raj and his colleague, Autumn Looijen, donated shopping bags to the San Francisco School Board they remember information about. Peter DaSilva of NBC news

"Everyone I know is crazy - deeply, very crazy," said Zach Coelius, a capitalist and founder who first moved to the Bay Area in 2005. He said he and his friends were doing "disregard" for the city's politics. for years, but now, “every friend I have is engaged to be married suddenly.”

But what white technology workers see as solutions is often an insult to established San Francisco politicians or other citizens, some of whom accuse lucky technicians of evicting low-paid neighbors. And the tech community is far from the same political party, which contributes to issues such as staffing.

Faauuga Moliga, one of three school board members who will be in the by-elections in February, said while he had great respect for the tech community, he was not sure if all members wanted to work together with the rest of the city.

“How do we all build San Francisco? Or do you want to build your own San Francisco? "Moliga, the board's vice president, said.

The people of San Franciscans have long criticized non-indigenous technology workers for not repaying, despite the wealth they have gained in the latest version of the California Gold Rush and the development that has helped the cause. Technology managers, if they have ever worked with City Hall at all, often focus on their tax debts. And many tech workers have left the city with the spread of coronavirus, as San Francisco's expensive hiring is hard to explain.

"About 10 years ago, political insiders began to look at technology and wondered, 'When will tech vote?'" Said Joel Engardio, a journalist who also has public relations at the beginning of technology and active in school board memory and more. political wars. "Technology workers were all over the city, but they were not promising."

For technical professionals who have experience visiting or living in alternative locations, complaints add to the stagnation.

"If you go to other big, world-class cities, you don't have these problems," Coelius said. “We don't seem to be building anything. We can't seem to fix anything. And we can't seem to have a city that can operate at a basic level. ”

So far, he has expressed his anger at donating money to the campaign of another tech businessman, Bilal Mahmood, who is running for the San Francisco seat in the regional council. And like many people in technology, Coelius has been portraying his frustrations on social media in terms of common misconceptions, including the so-called 'stupid' and “corrupt.”

San Francisco politics does not always welcome young people. The city that introduced Deputy President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in their political activities is often dominated by rival factions and structures of the Democratic Alliance-affiliated political parties that in many areas are all on one side. (San Francisco does not have one but two major LGBTQ Democratic clubs.)

But now, many software engineers, designers and entrepreneurs are putting their roots down. While many technologists see the epidemic as an opportunity to relocate to cities such as Austin, Texas, or Miami - areas they see as better management, or at least clean roads - some are left behind and spend more time in the city center. and suburban office parks closed.