1. Are you serious?
2. Why are you doing this?
A: I want to increase voter turnout and help create a more educated voting public. I want to use discourse to also create better, more creative and smarter candidates. I want to represent small businesses and local residents in a struggle against large companies from outside SF. I want to protect and maintain certain values that I feel are unique to San Francisco, that have become jeopardized. I want to reform SF City government and hand it back to a new Mayor in a new size and shape: smaller, more efficient, solvent and safer.
3. Do you really think you are better than all the other candidates?
A: In San Francisco right now – yes. While they each have their strengths, in reality most are career politicians with connections to various special interests. Most see growth and development and expansion as the only means forward. The ones that do not, who are wrongly labelled progressive, are not strong but rather a weak opposition, corralled into a corner by stale leadership.
I’m a complete outsider and can make hard calls as an educated, intellectual Independent. I have the communications, analytical and technical skills to scale back our economy. I also have the creativity, flexibility and energy to lead us to new solutions. Finally, as an outsider, a writer and an artist I will be more transparent about all of it.
4. You don’t really think you can win, do you?
A: Of course, I do. And if elected I will put together the greatest coalition government ever seen in this City, and we will have a good time with our form of austerity measures. I will represent our city with great pride here and abroad and we will return to a surplus economy, lower rents and a higher quality of life.
5. Why not join a party, like the Democrats or Greens or Peace and Freedom Party?
For almost 30 years now, I’ve noticed that politics has decayed into cliquish, snarky groups that no longer represent the shared values of all San Franciscans, but instead represent conflicting forces of egos. I have the courage and strength to run as an Independent and refuse funding from parties, unions or companies and doing so with clear intent allows me greater accessibility to the voters in general. Also, I hope to build a coalition of Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Libertarians, Peace and Freedom Party Members, Independents and others through my methodology. We can create a sensible platform together.
6. What’s your platform, just whatever you come up with?
No. The legitimacy of my campaign is up to you. I am trained to serve the public as a communicator and an analyst; a director, a manager and an artist. I want to be used by an intelligent public to be an honest candidate for evaluation, reform and restructuring of the City government. I express my views to try to create a central vantage point, to allow them to be a part of the discourse and to attract supporters who agree with me, but I am forming a new campaign from a coalition of shared views that are not represented by any single one of the other candidates.
7. How do you pronounce your name?
Car-thick or Car-tick, but please, not Car-dick.
8. Are you an American Citizen?
Yes. I naturalized as an American here in the United States in 1981. I have been an American longer than our former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
9. What’s Your IRV [Instant Runoff Voting] Strategy?
Last year, I observed the Instant Runoff Voting [IRV] election in Oakland very closely and studied the tactics of the candidates and the results.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan achieved something slow, steady and simple. In addition to seeking supporters for her campaign outright, Mayor Quan created a coalition of interests for whom another primary candidate was their first choice. Through sound campaigning she convinced this coalition of disparate interests to select her second on their ballots.
Because of a lack effort to explain by the media and the City, many people ignorant of the process or the math or the method never understood it from the beginning and so felt cheated. For these, and others, the idea that “everybody’s number two” won the election persisted. It is imperative we explain what IRV is and why it’s better democracy.
In fact, if traditional voting had occurred and a runoff been held between Jean Quan and her nearest opponent Don Perata, it would have been a six-week long, expensive affair. Likely, Perata would have outspent Quan even as the supporters of Rebecca Kaplan, Joe Tuman and other candidates tilted to Mayor Quan. That is what IRV showed us: it used basic, smart, weighted statistics to allow the right decision to happen on election day, preventing the expense to the City of a second election and preventing the purchasing of such a runoff by monied interests.
Mayor Quan won because she covered more ground and was more present to more people than any of the other candidates and it paid off in a statistical advantage. That’s good democracy.
There has been loud decrying of the IRV process by very specific interests. The loudest opponents of IRV, who struggle even now to rename it Ranked Choice Voting because it implies something that smells bad, are:
1. people who think the voters are too stupid to know how to use it and
2. those whose interest it threatens, namely big parties, monied candidates and
3. those who use the traditional way of doing things: buying the election.
In fact, IRV is an excellent tool because
1. it makes candidates seek alliances and coalition-building tactics
2. it makes voters learn more about more candidates and take greater responsibility for their vote.
3. it aids candidates interested in civic leadership but without the finances to use media by giving them a means to recognition
4. it eliminates the need for expensive runoff campaigns
5. the nature of the process reveals which candidate works best with others at large.
Instant Runoff Voting is complicated and somewhat hard to explain. What our politicians ought to be doing is explaining it in clear terms and helping voters use it to elect our leadership. Instead we see them resisting what threatens them.
My strategy is somewhat different. I believe I’m the best candidate to run the City. You should vote for me first, but if you don’t, I hope you will see that it only makes sense to include me as a reformist, by voting for me second or third on your ballot. You can trust my promises, which are unique among legitimate candidates.
I will slash the Mayor’s salary first and then ask City employees to help me to do the same before making cuts. I will create a Giveback Fund to encourage the San Francisco value of sharing and community. I will audit and evaluate every department before raising any new revenue from taxation and eliminate waste that has run rampant. I will make the hard calls on pensions and benefits and help come up with creative means to generate revenue to avoid harsh austerity measures.
It’s in our best interest to elect me because I am not a politician. Rather, I’m a regular citizen concerned about waste, solvency and rampant and unchecked growth. I will function transparently and without attachment to special interests.
I can creatively cut costs, reduce waste and lead us to a better, smaller, more efficient San Francisco in which we pay less for a better quality of life. You can trust me to analyze and reform our City’s broken and corrupt system transparently, to save the City money doing it and to create solvency and a surplus economy composed from the myriad wonderfulness of our City’s inherently talented and multilingual community.
As a one-time, reform candidate, Karthik Rajan is a safe number 2 in the event you dislike other candidates and a great first choice to be the next Mayor of San Francisco.