Tom Ammiano, California, 1990
President, City and County Board of Supervisors
San Francisco, California
Elected to the School Board November 1990
Re-elected in 1994, became Board President
Elected to the Board of Supervisors November 1994
Re-elected 1998, became Board President
Re-elected to the Board in 2000, 2004
Essay by Tom Ammiano for Out and Elected in the USA
After being an out gay teacher for many years, I ran for and won a seat on the Board of Education. My lover of 18 years, Tim Curbo, was also a teacher in the San Francisco school district. He taught Spanish bilingual education for combined kindergarten, first and second grade class. Tim had a real vocation, not just a job. He was widely loved and respected. He shared our relationship with his students, keeping a photo of me on his desk along with other members of his family.
When he was diagnosed with HIV, he initiated an age appropriate HIV/AIDS education program for the entire school. It became a model for the district. When he died a few years later, his memorial was held in the schoolyard and more than 500 teachers, students, parents and friends attended. The most moving testimonial was by a third grader who said he was grateful to have had Tim as a teacher and to know he was gay.
Excerpt from Tom Ammiano’s office biography sheet
Tom Ammiano has generated wide and diverse grassroots support citywide. His contributions were mostly of $10 and $100. He has strong and good relations with union and labor organizations, the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender communities and has support from the Bernal Heights, Mission and Excelsior neighborhoods. In 1994, five days before the election, Tom’s longtime lover and companion, Tim Curbo, died from AIDS complications. Tim had been an elementary school teacher at Cesar Chaves elementary in the Mission district. The students and families held a memorial for Tim. It was an amazing, moving outpouring of love and support for both Tim and Tom.
Tom was raised Catholic in a working class neighborhood in New Jersey and, being the son of a taxi driver, Tom has a keen understanding of the disenfranchisement of the poor, working class and communities of color that give his work a vision not commonly embodied in white mainstream politicians.
Because of his background in the education system, where the most commonly heard voices for family have been mothers and grandmothers, Tom has an uncommon sensitivity towards women and women’s issues. Frequently, women’s issues are presented by men and male dominated establishments. Tom insists that women from a range of experiences be able to have access to the process and have their views heard. Tom’s first official meeting as a Supervisor was with Malika Saada Saar and representatives from Family Rights and Dignity, a San Francisco based organization focusing on issues of homeless women and their families.
One of Supervisor Ammiano’s greatest assets is his ability to ensure that all voices are heard and no one or no community is excluded from the process. It is diversity, inclusion, and the celebration of one’s unique cultural contributions that has made San Francisco a national as well as international cultural and commercial epicenter.
Tom Ammiano’s sense of humor has allowed him to make his mark in the competitive field of stand-up comedy. He is honest, courageous and down-to-earth. He constantly addresses issues of discrimination and privilege. He recognizes and is thoughtful about his privilege as a white man. He is a true progressive, not merely a “gay agendist.”
Supervisor Ammiano is committed to staying real and not getting lost in the perpetual re-election rhetoric. He is open to views different from his own and most of all, he’s not afraid to go tackle tough issues or go up against multi-national and big business interests.