Q&A: Stephen Martin-Pinto on Running for District 7 Supervisor

If elected, the Sunnyside resident would focus on the drug crisis and rebuilding the police force.

Stephen Martin-Pinto is runnning for District 7 supervisior. | Anne Marie Kristoff/Ingleside Light

Stephen Martin-Pinto is throwing his hat into the ring once again for District 7 supervisor in 2024, joining sitting-Supervisor Myrna Melgar who has filed papers to run for a second term.

The San Francisco firefighter said he will run the same campaign as he did in 2020 dedicated to solving the city’s dual drug and homelessness crisis while supporting small businesses, schools, the police and public transit.

Martin-Pinto’s campaign slogan: “Bringing common sense back to San Francisco politics.”

The fifth-generation San Franciscan is active in the community as the previous Sunnyside Neighborhood Association president and recently as the president of the West of Twin Peaks Central Council. He has also served in the U.S. Marine Corps and is a member of the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Commission.

“With me, you’re always going to get a straight, honest answer,” Martin-Pinto said. “I prepared myself for this position throughout my entire [life] experience. I think our city is a great city. I believe in it. I’m proud of it. I don’t give up on it. That’s why I’m still here.”

The Ingleside Light caught up with Martin-Pinto to learn more about his campaign.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What inspired you to run again for District 7 supervisor?

Even though I was not well known and started late in the game, I spoke directly from the heart all the time. I said I want to be totally honest about what I feel. I want to say exactly what I think all the time. I don't want to be politically correct or do that politician thing where they don't really answer the question. I want to be straightforward with my voters all the time. I got a lot of support and I really really enjoyed meeting people, listening to their problems and saying, “I think I can help you. I think there's a way forward for this.” I had a lot of great supporters who stood behind me and that inspired me to run again.

What is one thing you would do differently from current or previous supervisors?

One common excuse I hear from a lot of supervisors is “It's not my power. I can't do that. This is beyond my scope.” I don't really buy that. I think as a supervisor you only have so much informal power delineated in the City Charter, but certainly you have a lot of enforcement power. You can go to the media. You can go to social media. You can talk to the neighbors. If you can't fix things locally, go to the state level. Go to Sacramento, pound on that desk. Don't give up. Don't take "no" for an answer.

You can't be excuse oriented. You have to be solution oriented and don't be afraid to say what you think. If something's not right, be honest about it. People want to hear the truth. People are tired of politicians giving non-answers, and I'm not like that. I'm very honest with people. I speak my mind. You might not agree with what I have to say, but you always know where I stand.

How do you plan to be involved in District 7?

I plan to be available all the time. I mean, District 7 is probably geographically the furthest from City Hall. I can't really be visible and available if I'm always at city hall, so I plan to be out here a lot of my time as much as I can. Being a supervisor is a 24/7 job. I feel like it's not about me anymore, it's about the people I serve. I have to have some personal time but my vacation time, that's over. I gave that up by taking this obligation, so I plan to be out here in various parts of District 7 every weekend. Come have coffee with me. We'll talk about something.

During Supervisor Myrna Melgar’s public safety town hall in April, members of the public expressed concerns around homelessness and property crime. How do you plan to tackle those concerns?

First of all, we’ve got to get our police force staffed. We also need to change the way that the police are looked at. There's a lot of defund the police advocates, so-called criminal justice reform advocates, who love to demonize the police whatever chance they get — but they're people too. We can kind of humanize the police force a little bit. I think that would go a long way to getting more sympathy for them. 

Also, really be an advocate for the victims. The Police Commission is consistently tying the hands of the department. We need to get better commissioners in there. I'm going to be pushing for better commissioners. I'm going to be basically using the power of social media to really call out bad decisions by fellow supervisors and by the police commissioners. People got to know what's really going on.

There's only so much we can do locally. We need to get involved also at the state level because a lot of the problems that we're going through, other cities are going through as well. It's great to complain locally but if you band together with like-minded individuals and complain at the state level, I think it's going to really turn a corner.

Why should people vote for you?

This is my home. I’m not going to get chased out by politicians who came here 5, 10 or 15 years ago and use this as a test lab for their bad policies and then move on to Sacramento. I’m not going anywhere. If this is as far as I get, as supervisor, I’m OK with that. I’m not going to be jumping in the middle of my term to another office. I’m committed to this. I’ve been working my ass off for the last seven or eight years with community organizations trying to solve problems, listening to people, getting to know the neighborhoods and neighbors. I know every street in this district. Nobody knows this district better than I do. I was born and raised here. I care deeply about the city. This is personal for me. It’s not a career move for me. I’m running because I care, and I plan to spend the rest of my life here.

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