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Local Politics: "Night Cabbie" Emil Lawrence Runs For Mayor 

Wednesday, Nov 2 2011

A quirk of ranked-choice voting is that the third-place candidate has a chance at winning. That doesn't extend to the candidate ranked 16th of 16, but that's not stopping Emil Lawrence.

Lawrence, a 64-year-old S.F. taxi driver and deep-cut mayoral candidate, wants to rid City Hall of its feline infestation. If he becomes mayor, 5,000 government "fat cats" will be the first out the door under his administration, he says.

Call him Emil the Exterminator.

He loves to talk about waste at City Hall but also about his time as the bard of the night who penned the Chronicle's "Night Cabbie" column — which, he's eager to mention, led to Phil Bronstein and Sharon Stone making first contact.

"[Bronstein] called me up and said, 'Well, I got a date with Sharon Stone tomorrow night,' and I had just put in my column three times about Sharon up in North Beach without a male companion," Lawrence says. "He met her through my column."

Mayor Lawrence's program wouldn't involve celeb hook-ups. Instead, he's promising a privatized Muni system, parking citations capped at $25, 5,000 fewer parking meters — to bring shoppers back to small businesses — and 1,000 more benches at parks and bus stops.

How to pay for all this? Drop thousands of pink slips on City Hall and hire recent college grads, veterans, disabled people, and seniors at entry-level pay, cutting around $175 million a year.

Lawrence's years behind a taxi wheel inspired his next idea: sell Muni to its drivers with a taxi-style medallion system, with each driver bidding on a bus and a route until the system "would be turned into a cash cow instead of a big black red hole every year," he says.

"No taxi driver has a minimum wage," he says. "No taxi driver has a pension, a medical system, a grievance system. You drive as a small businessman. If you can't comply with the rules, we'll take it away and sell it to someone else."

Since they would bulldoze so many union agreements, Lawrence's plans for the city might as well include adding unicorns at the zoo. But this 42-year S.F. resident and frequent rabblerouser in front of the Board of Supervisors is serious: He opted to pay the $5,048 fee to run since he didn't have the requisite 10,096 signatures. Technically, he could be our next mayor.

But in this left-leaning city, a few ideological barriers remain.

"I mean, I'm a Republican," he says. "But that doesn't make me a crazy guy!"

About The Author

Ellen Huet


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