Q&A: Roger Marenco on Running For District 11 Supervisor

The former head of the Muni drivers’ union has his eyes set on handling safety, union workers, transportation issues and more if elected.

A man stands in front of a mural wearing a blue jacket.
Roger Marenco is running for District 11 supervisor in 2024. | Anne Marie Kristoff/Ingleside Light

This former president of the Transport Workers Union Local 250A is back in the leadership scene but this time as a candidate in the District 11 supervisor race.

Running against one other person, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency streetcar operator Roger Marenco's focus is on issues like safety, organized union work, financial accountability in City Hall, public transportation and fighting for San Francisco’s most vulnerable populations, name,y retirees and teachers.

“I've always had my heart set on running for a political position in San Francisco to be able to help change the rules of the game to benefit workers, people of color, blue collar, unionized workers, retirees, students, teachers etc.” Marenco said.

The Salvadorian-native and Mission and Geneva resident has been invested in change from a young age, organizing his peers to fight against evictions in his neighborhood in San Francisco during 2001 when he was 19 years old. He later went on to intern for former District 9 Supervisor Tom Ammiano and eventually was made president of TWU Local 250A in 2018.

After being removed by TWU in 2022 due to alleged derogatory language against the executive board and other charges, which he has denied, Marenco went back to driving.

“I let bygones be bygones,” Marenco said. “I'm going to look on the bright side, on the positive side. I'm going to move out of there and I'm going to move into City Hall. Something bigger, something better, something brighter, something more.”

The Ingleside Light caught up with Marenco to discuss his plans if elected.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What inspired you to run for supervisor?

This year, I said, “Alright, this is it. I'm doing it.” [What happened was] I went out one day and I cleaned up a pile of human poop. The next day I go back outside. My little boy is wearing a pair of little Cocomelon shoes. I was happy. It’s his first day wearing them. We bought them for him and he goes outside and I didn't see the first step that he takes. He steps on a pile of shit. I had literally, the day before, just cleaned up a pile of shit. I was pissed off. I didn't even decide to wash the shoes. I just threw them in the garbage. I said, “The hell with this man. I’m pissed off. This is it. I'm doing it now.” I am sick and tired of having to see and clean up human shit on a daily basis. I don't want my son — our children, our future generations — to have to walk with their head looking down on the street every single block to find out if they're going to step on a pile of human poop. That is one of the many things that compelled me to join the race.

What is one issue you currently see in District 11 that’s not being addressed?

One issue not being addressed in District 11 is safety. The SFMTA is now pandering to the homeless. The SFMTA is now catering to the criminals. The SFMTA is now opening up the doors to drug users and drug dealers — criminals. If a drug user gets on board a train, they simply get asked to move and they get on the next train — without paying. If you get on the train, your ass is getting a $100 ticket. Now, these people are committing crimes in our districts and our communities and our city's blocks and they are getting away with it so much to the point at which our neighbors, our residents, ourselves, we have to leave our damn car windows rolled down, our doors unlock and the damn trunk open so that our car windows don't get broken into again. That's the society that we are living in right now because crime is rampant. It is like the cool thing to do. Now, it's cool to be a criminal because you can get away with it in San Francisco. We have career criminals that have broken into cars and assaulted residence with impunity. They get away with it. They get a slap on the wrist and then they're out to do it again because these are career criminals. The lack of safety is one of the biggest issues and concerns here.

How would you rectify it?

With the new president in there, El Salvador is now the safest country in the Western Hemisphere. Why? Because this man said, "You know what? The hell with the left and the hell with the right. The hell with the Democrats and the hell with the Republicans. The hell with Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional, that's the left wing, and the hell with ARENA. That's the right wing." He said, "I'm creating my own political party. I'm establishing my own political party, which is based on realism, which is based on pragmatism, not idealism." He said, "I'm going to treat workers like workers, I'm going to treat students like students, and I'm going to treat criminals like criminals. If you're a worker, I'm going to give you what you need, I'm going to pay you decent wages, I'm going to make sure you can pay your rent. If you're a student, I'm gonna make sure you have the books, pens, papers and education that you need in order to strive to thrive, to get an education and to get a good career. If you're a criminal, your ass is going to prison. It's that simple." That's what he did in order to crack down on the most dangerous country in the Western Hemisphere, which is now the safest country in the Western Hemisphere and that's exactly what I plan on doing here is treating workers like workers, treating students like students and treating criminals like criminals. No more second chances for these people.

How do you plan to be involved in District 11?

I plan to be involved in District 11 by building a bridge from District 11 directly connected to City Hall by talking to the local merchants, dealing with the mom-and-pop shops on a one to one basis; having community meetings on a monthly basis in District 11 at Mission and Excelsior, Mission and Silver and Mission and Geneva — strategic key locations so that the residents can know, see, feel and hear that they are being heard. I cannot bring all of the solutions. We cannot fix everything but if we come together as a group as a team as an entity and work toward achieving those goals, yes, we can make it happen. Just like it happened in El Salvador and that is the prime example of worst to best. The most dangerous to the safest.

What do you wish there was more of in San Francisco from a supervisor standpoint?

I wish that there were more action from San Francisco supervisors. I am not here to be politically correct. I am not here to wear a suit and tie. As you can see what I'm wearing here is what I am now proud of. I am a jeans and sneaker guy. I am a blue collar worker. I'm a unionized worker that I'm a city and county of San Francisco employee.

That is what I would want to see more of at City Hall. I'm tired of the political correctness. How about get politically right? How about get politically active? Do something to clean the damn streets. Enough talk and enough chances. Take action. Take action because the last person that I want ever to see assaulted or step on a piece of crap is you. I don't ever want you to get assaulted. I don't ever want you to have to step on a piece of dump. I don't ever want you to have to retire with a damn $1,500 monthly check. I want these people in City Hall to take action and if you can't, then step out of the room. Move aside and let somebody else come in here. I am not here to be politically correct. I am here to be politically active and make decisions.

Why should people vote for you?

People should vote for me if they want their streets cleaned up. If they want their families to feel safer. If they want their local businesses to strive and to thrive. I am not coming here with illusions, dreams and propaganda. I am coming here with solutions, feasible solutions to problems. Some people say, “Oh Roger, you're too extreme.” Let me tell you what is extreme: Me driving the train with children on the bus and crackheads smoking fentanyl and I'm not allowed to take action because I will lose my job. That, to me, is extreme. Let me tell you what is extreme: Women walking with their strollers picking up their children and those women being hunted by career criminals. That is extreme right there. That is hard. Let me tell you what’s extreme: 30-year veterans retiring with only a $1,500 damn check from the City and County of San Francisco for which they can't even afford to pay rent. That is extreme. So don't tell me that I'm extreme when I want to protect your family, when I want to clean your streets and when I want safer public transportation on the streets. Don't tell me that I'm extreme because this situation has been extreme since way before I got here and it's gonna continue to get even worse in terms of extreme.

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