Text and photos by Cat Donohue
Politicians give me the heebie-jeebies. Something about the way they always remember your name. Shouldn’t they be saving brain space for textbook budgets, making sure feral animals are spayed and neutered, maintaining and strengthening San Francisco’s status as a sanctuary city?
In contrast to politicians, there are politics, the importance of which I cannot deny, try as I may. AHDM4U readers aren’t trying to ignore politics either. In fact, in the magazine’s first Reader’s Choice contest y’all voted Sunny Angulo, City Hall legislative aide and longtime Bay Area activist, as your official Heartthrob Issue representative. Thanks for that, because it meant I got to spend an adorable Valentine’s Day with Sunny in the City Hall bathrooms — her favorite place in the building, she says, hence the glamour shots we took there — and in her office.
Officially, it is the office of Supervisor Jane Kim, for whom Sunny works. Supervisor Kim, the District Six successor to fiery progressive man-warrior Chris Daly, is the first Korean-American to serve on the Board and was once a Green Party member (Sunny still is). “I like that she’s a strong, progressive, really smart woman of color,” our Bay native Heartthrob tells me when I ask why she works for Supervisor Kim. “She really knows the unique identity of each neighborhood she represents.”
Sunny’s mark on Supervisor Kim’s office is clear. “She sets the bar,” one of her coworkers tells me over lunch at her desk (V-Day romance is lost on City Hall, past the preponderance of couples taking wedding photos in the rotunda.) “She’s on call 24/7. She will know and have information first.”
One of the walls in the room is dominated by a t-shirt quilt that Sunny made, the kind of blanket crafty community activists wind up with when their dresser drawers overflow with the proof of their involvement in a million groups and causes. On Sunny’s, District Six nightclubs are represented and the Boys & Girls Club, in addition to political campaigns and causes. Maybe one of the most likable things about Heartthrob Angulo is that, even after being asked to manage first the campaign of would-be District Nine Supervisor Mark Sanchez in 2008 and then Kim’s successful run in 2010, she’s always been involved in the progressive community beyond the scope of politics. Once focused on a journalism career, Sunny edited a quarterly photography journal. She was active with SF Liberation Radio, helped organize NarcoNews’s first School of Authentic Journalism in 2003 and authored an interview anthology of voices within the marriage equality movement right around the time of the heartbreaking passage of California’s anti-gay marriage Prop 8. She’s managed an art gallery and held a job making children’s furniture.
She loves the social services aspect of working at City Hall, the open office hours (first Fridays 1:30-3:30pm, City Hall, room 282) that Kim’s staff have turned into workshop sessions on renters’ rights. District Six, site of the infamous Mid-Market area and that historically poor neighborhood’s influx of tech companies and workers, is one of the SF neighborhoods where non-profits and small businesses are struggling to hang on to their leases.
Yet even in the omnipresent shadow that the looming specter of neighborhood change casts here in the city Sunny is (sorry) sunny about the future. She got life the weekend before our chat when she attended the city-wide SF Tenants’ Convention, which convened a few blocks from City Hall at the Tenderloin Elementary School.
“There was a lot of new faces,” she tells me. “It wasn’t just the usual suspects, which I think is important for building a movement. If you want people to stand with you in your time of need, you need to broaden the discussion.”
For those of you concerned about your lease (a.k.a. all our Bay Area readers), take out your notepad: these days Sunny is seeing hope for low income SF families, small businesses, and non-profits in the work of Eviction-Free San Francisco, not to mention the proposed Harvey Milk anti-speculation tax which could be on November ballots and the prospect of housing balance legislation that would halt the development of market rate apartments when affordable housing goals are going unmet in the city.
“It’s sexy to have a brain trust of really cool activists that care,” Sunny says of the San Franciscans doing this important work. “I think that’s exciting.”
Swoon, that’s our Heartthrob. Thanks for voting, everybody.