Willie Brown makes ‘comeback’ ads with Nancy Pelosi as city falters

Struggling San Francisco snubbed the vice president in revitalization campaign; tapped former flame as “iconic leader” instead.

Once a thriving tourist destination, the City by the Bay’s failure to address homelessness, the drug crisis and rampant crime has turned it into a locale many would much rather avoid. Still, with the city’s former district attorney Kamala Harris now serving a heartbeat away from the presidency, local businesses to the ex, often credited for her career success, to build civic pride.

An ad campaign dubbed “It All Starts Here” roped former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown (D) to join the district’s congressional Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D) in a promotion promising a bright future. Relegated to a cameo for a premiere minute-long spot, Brown played second fiddle to Pelosi who narrated the ad in a more recent edition.

“San Francisco, we’ve been through a lot. The quake. The fight for justice and equality. And the AIDS epidemic,” she could be heard saying over a montage that also featured dated footage of the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), “But the city by the bay always perseveres, through grit, through innovation, through hope, through unity, through culture, through joy.”

“And now, new challenges, but we won’t be defined by them. We remain resolutely here,” the narration concludes before actors, Brown and then Pelosi reiterated, “Here.”

Brown and Harris had dated between 1994 and 1995 while he was speaker of the California State Assembly and she worked at the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, with more than 30 years separating the couple. At the time, Brown was still married to his estranged wife and he broke up with Harris mere weeks before he was sworn in as mayor.

According to report from the San Francisco Chronicle, the ad campaign backed by Google, the San Francisco Giants, Gap board member Bob Fisher, the University of California San Francisco and others, was running at $4 million and included billboards that would be plastered around the city meant to distract from the human excrement and used needles.

Cryptocurrency company Ripple chairman Chris Larsen addressed challenges not touched on in the ad campaign to the Chronicle with a particular nod to COVID as he said, “The whole world went through the pandemic. That was nothing unique to San Francisco.”

Larsen also claimed it was “apolitical” despite the use of Brown and Pelosi who were tapped as “iconic leaders of the city.”

Ironically, Advance SF included Walgreens as a member asserting the city’s “role as an innovative and thriving hub for business and the arts” as local stores have had to lock up their merchandise, including chaining a freezer section, to combat rampant shoplifting.

Closing out October, San Francisco Mayor London Breed (D) had called for $206 million in budget cuts, of which law enforcement and public health department, already demonstrably falling short of meeting the needs of residents, combined to represent more than a quarter of the eyed slashes.

“We simply cannot wait until next year’s budget process to begin to address our growing structural deficit, which at this time, we project to be at least $500 million in Fiscal Year 2025-26 alone,” wrote Breed.


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