Ross Mirkarimi (born August 4, 1961) is a member of the Board of Supervisors of San Francisco, California. He was elected in 2004 to represent the city's fifth district, which encompasses the Haight-Ashbury, parts of Hayes Valley, Western Addition, Alamo Square and a portion of the Inner Sunset neighborhoods. Mirkarimi co-founded the California chapter of the Green Party, and is associated with progressive causes and politics.
Mirkarimi's ethnic and cultural background is Iranian and Russian Jewish-American. He was born in Chicago, Illinois and grew up in Rhode Island. He has a Bachelor's degree in political science from St. Louis University, a Master's degree in international economics and affairs from Golden Gate University, and a Master of Science degree in environmental science from the University of San Francisco. He has lived in San Francisco since 1984.
Mirkarimi is a graduate of the San Francisco Police Academy, where he was the president of his class. Before his election to office, he served in the District Attorney's Office investigating white collar crime.
Mirkarimi co-founded California's Green Party in 1990, and coordinated Ralph Nader's 2000 presidential campaign in California. He also managed local campaigns in San Francisco, including the 2001 campaign for public power, the March 2002 campaign to elect Harry Britt to the State Assembly, and the 2003 campaign to elect Matt Gonzalez mayor of San Francisco. Mirkarimi has also announced that he is supporting Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election.
Mirkarimi has been involved in these civic and community service activities: Director for SF Nuclear Freeze Zone Coalition; union negotiator for DAI Association union; member of the IFPTE Local 2; member of the Harvey Milk Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Democratic Club; member of the Iranian-American Chamber of Commerce; environmental analyst for the Harvard Study Team (Iraq) Bayview Hunters Point, California Base Closures; and member of the National Organization for Women (NOW).
As Supervisor, Mirkarimi has sponsored some 40 pieces of legislation in a wide range of areas, including crime, making streets safer for pedestrians, improving efficiency of city departments, and the environment. He sponsored legislation to require police foot patrols in high-crime neighborhoods. The Board of Supervisors approved this measure, but Mayor Gavin Newsom, citing objections by Police Chief Heather Fong, vetoed it. However, by a 9-2 vote, the Board overrode the veto; this was the first time that the Board of Supervisors had overridden a Newsom veto.
Mirkarimi has spearheaded efforts to promote medical marijuana clubs in San Francisco. On April 20, 2006 (4-20), the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws honored Mirkarimi with its Rufus King Award for outstanding leadership in the reform of marijuana laws. In a speech accepting the award, Mirkarimi said:
That particular logic (of being in favor of medicinal marijuana but not wanting dispensaries in the neighborhood in which you live), as complex as it is, was emblematic of what certainly concerned me, that we continue to drive back in the shadows the very idea of what we're all congregated here for, and that is to mainstream the issue so that marijuana should not be criminalized and medical cannabis should not be criminalized and that we should do everything we can to build that kind of resiliency, to shore up even in the face of adversity, that while there's any attempt at pushback or blowback from our efforts to try to proliferate Prop 215 states throughout all fifty states of the United States, that we should not shrink at all with that ever particular kind of adversity once again.
On Tuesday, September 9th, 2008, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed, Supervisor Mirkarimi's legislation creating a Reentry Council to coordinate the disparate and disconnected City programs that help ex-offenders make the difficult transition from incarceration back into society. Supervisor Mirkarimi in collaboration with Public Defender Jeff Adachi, District Attorney Kamala Harris, and Sheriff Michael Hennessey crafted this legislation to increase the effectiveness of City-wide efforts to reduce recidivism and violence, and promote safe and successful reentry into society for adults released from jails and prisons.
Mirkarimi has spearheaded efforts to control and regulate medical marijuana clubs in San Francisco. He opposes private ownership, and supports non-profit clubs that are regulated and appropriate for the neighborhood.
In March 2007, Mirkarimi introduced legislation that prohibits large supermarkets and drugstores from providing customers with non-biodegradable plastic bags, making San Francisco the first city to regulate such bags. Since then other cities around the country and in Europe have take up similar bans, and there is a move by the California legislature to do the same. Mirkarimi said, "Instead of waiting for the federal government to do something about this country's oil dependence, environmental degradation or contribution to global warming, local governments can step up and do their part. The plastic bag ban is one small part of that."Many supermarkets opposed such legislation. The bill passed 10-1 and became an ordinance.
In June 2008, Mirkarimi sponsored a one-year pilot program of a solar rebate program that provides $1.5 million to nonprofit organizations and lower income residents for the installation of solar voltaic power on rooftops; the measure received initial approval from the Board of Supervisors. In July, Mirkarimi was named among several supervisors who, along with the mayor and various organizations, opposed a move to build fossil-fuel power plants in the low-income southeastern part of San Francisco.
Mirkarimi supported a measure by Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier to ban smoking on city parks. Mirkarimi helped expand the ban to bus shelters to the city's public golf courses. A ban on smoking in parks had been to extending the law to golf courses.
In February 2008, Mirkarimi announced his support for changing the name of a portion of Eddy Street to Marcus Garvey Way. Supporters hope that by renaming a street in honor of a well-known and influential figure of African descent, San Francisco's African-American residents will choose to stay in the city despite increases in the cost of living.
Mirkarimi also authored a piece of reparations bill, which would give descendants of those displaced by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency from the Western Addition priority in obtaining affordable housing. During the 1960's the city tore down much of the historic Fillmore district, most of whose resident's were permanently removed. Two-thirds of those displaced were African American. 
Ross Mirkarimi was the chief sponsor of a measure to require most employers to give pre-tax commuter checks to employees, with the intention of getting workers out of commuting via private car and into using public transportation; the measure is unlike many others involving regulation of businesses in that it has not opposed by the Chamber of Commerce.
- Official site
- San Francisco City Government profile page
- Mirkarimi Shows Leadership in School Closure Fight
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