For San Francisco
Democratic central committee

About Rafael

Growing​ ​up​ ​in​ ​the​ ​City,​ ​Rafael​ ​attended​ ​Brandeis​ ​Hillel​ ​Day​ ​School​ ​and​ ​Lick-Wilmerding​ ​High School​ ​before​ ​going​ ​to​ ​Yale​ ​on​ ​scholarship.​ ​While​ ​at​ ​Yale​ ​he​ ​studied​ ​affordable​ ​housing​ ​and community​ ​development—returning​ ​in​ ​the​ ​summer​ ​to​ ​teach​ ​at-risk​ ​San​ ​Francisco​ ​middle​ ​school students. 

After​ ​receiving​ ​a​ ​masters​ ​degree​ ​in​ ​public​ ​policy​ ​from​ ​Harvard​ ​and​ ​a​ ​law​ ​degree​ ​from​ ​UC Berkeley,​ ​Rafael​ ​returned​ ​home​ ​to​ ​San​ ​Francisco.​ ​As​ ​a​ ​District​ ​8​ ​resident​ ​for​ ​the​ ​past​ ​two decades,​ ​Rafael​ ​has​ ​been​ ​a​ ​strong​ ​advocate​ ​for​ ​D8​ ​neighborhoods​ ​as​ ​President​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Noe Valley​ ​Democratic​ ​Club,​ ​Commissioner​ ​on​ ​the​ ​San​ ​Francisco​ ​Board​ ​of​ ​Appeals,​ ​Chair​ ​of​ ​the San​ ​Francisco​ ​LGBT​ ​Center,​ ​and​ ​President​ ​of​ ​the​ ​District​ ​8​ ​Democratic​ ​Club. 

As​ ​an​ ​urban​ ​development​ ​attorney,​ ​Rafael​ ​has​ ​helped​ ​build​ ​thousands​ ​of​ ​affordable​ ​housing units​ ​all​ ​over​ ​the​ ​Bay​ ​Area.​ ​He​ ​sweats​ ​the​ ​details,​ ​doing​ ​what​ ​it​ ​takes​ ​to​ ​make​ ​affordable housing​ ​and​ ​livable​ ​communities​ ​a​ ​reality. 

Rafael’s​ ​commitment​ ​to​ ​building​ ​housing​ ​and​ ​ending​ ​homelessness​ ​is​ ​personal.​ ​When​ ​he​ ​was eleven-years-old,​ ​Rafael's​ ​mother’s​ ​mental​ ​illness​ ​started​ ​her​ ​spiraling​ ​down​ ​a​ ​path​ ​that​ ​led​ ​her into​ ​repeated​ ​hospitalizations​ ​and​ ​ultimately​ ​homelessness.​ ​Rafael​ ​became​ ​responsible​ ​for​ ​his own​ ​care—finding​ ​housing,​ ​getting​ ​himself​ ​on​ ​Medi-Cal​ ​and​ ​to​ ​his​ ​own​ ​doctors​ ​appointments, and​ ​getting​ ​himself​ ​through​ ​high​ ​school.​ ​As​ ​an​ ​adult​ ​he​ ​was​ ​able​ ​to​ ​secure​ ​a​ ​guardianship​ ​for his​ ​mother,​ ​and​ ​find​ ​her​ ​the​ ​long-term​ ​care​ ​she​ ​needed. 

It​ ​was​ ​a​ ​path​ ​made​ ​possible​ ​by​ ​the​ ​dedication​ ​of​ ​educators​ ​in​ ​Rafael’s​ ​life,​ ​and​ ​making​ ​sure​ ​San Franciscans​ ​have​ ​access​ ​to​ ​education​ ​is​ ​why​ ​Rafael​ ​ran​ ​for​ ​City​ ​College​ ​Board​ ​of​ ​Trustees​ ​in 2012.​ ​Elected​ ​by​ ​a​ ​wide​ ​margin,​ ​Rafael​ ​became​ ​President​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Board.​ ​He​ ​​​was​ ​widely acknowledged​ ​for​ ​steering​ ​the​ ​80-year​ ​institution​ ​through​ ​its​ ​recent​ ​accreditation​ ​crisis. 

A​ ​strong​ ​advocate​ ​for​ ​students,​ ​Rafael​ ​was​ ​praised​ ​for​ ​his​ ​cool​ ​head​ ​and​ ​for​ ​not​ ​being​ ​afraid​ ​to make​ ​hard​ ​calls​ ​to​ ​save​ ​the​ ​institution.​ ​His​ ​leadership​ ​ensured​ ​that​ ​City​ ​College​ ​would​ ​weather the​ ​crisis​ ​and​ ​implement​ ​new​ ​innovative​ ​programs​ ​like​ ​Free​ ​City​ ​College. 


City Hall Accomplishments

LGBT Issues

Rafael called for a hearing to examine how and why states and the federal government are falling short on LGBTQ data collection, oversaw the creation of the Castro LGBTQ Cultural District, and joined Mayor Breed in declaring San Francisco Open to All.


The Board of Supervisors unanimously passed Rafael's resolution in support of AB 5, a historic bill that protects workers by preventing corporations from improperly classifying them.


Rafael worked with Supervisor Aaron Peskin and Mayor Breed to create the Transit Performance Working Group to review the performance of Muni service and to make recommendations on how to improve it.

Substance Use

Rafael was integral in the creation of San Francisco's Meth Task Force, a group that looks at the drug's impact on residents in high-use areas and ways to increase treatment and rehabilitation options.


The science doesn't lie: global warming is a significant problem that we must all be focused on. Rafael declared a Climate Emergency in San Francisco, and has introduced legislation to decrease San Francisco's dependence on fossil fuels.