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.
Saving City College
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.
A Progressive City That Works
Rafael is a principled, pragmatic progressive who is always looking for ways to make local government more effective and responsive. Elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in June 2018, Rafael has spent his time in office focusing on the issues that San Franciscans care about most: housing and homelessness, mental health and substance abuse, public safety, small business, and public transportation. He currently serves as Chair of the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee and a member of the Budget Committee. He serves as Vice Chair of the County Transportation Authority, represents San Francisco on the Association of Bay Area Governments and is an alternate member of the California Coastal Commission.
As a member of the Budget Committee, Rafael worked to stop the loss of vitally needed board and care residential facilities. He led local efforts to expand conservatorships for people suffering from mental illness and substance use disorder and regularly cycling through our City’s emergency rooms. And he called for the formation and co-chaired a Meth Task Force to assess the methamphetamine crisis and propose solutions for local action.
Rafael hears everyday from constituents frustrated by unreliable Muni service. In response, he called for the convening of a Transit Performance Working Group to bring together national experts and local stakeholders to identify priority areas for immediate action by the new director of the MTA.
Working with environmental advocates, Rafael passed legislation declaring a Climate Emergency in San Francisco, and following on that declaration and a subsequent report identifying buildings as a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, has been working with the advocates, labor and other stakeholders on legislation to reduce those emissions. Rafael has also been helping lead the Board’s efforts to identify new funding for tree planting in San Francisco.
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.
Paid for by Rafael Mandelman for Democratic County Central Committee 2020. FPPC # 1421404. Financial disclosures are available at sfethics.org.
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