Meet Marjan Ghafourpour Philhour – Candidate for San Francisco Board of Supervisors

November 16, 2015, San Francisco, CA – The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian American (PAAIA) recently had the opportunity to sit down with Marjan Ghafourpour Philhour to discuss her campaign for San Francisco Board of Supervisors District 1.  If successful she will become the first woman of Iranian and Filipino descent to be elected to public office in San Francisco. 

Born in the Richmond District of San Francisco, Philhour grew up in the Bay Area and is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley.  Her career spans over two decades in government, politics, and private consulting.    

Philhour spent four years in the U.S. House of Representatives serving as a legislative aide to Members of Congress.  After returning home to California, Philhour served as senior advisor to Governor Gray Davis’ chief of staff during the historic energy crisis. Over the past ten years, she has led her own San Francisco-based consulting firm, working with nonprofits and local, state, and federal candidates.

A proponent of public and community service, Philhour is involved with San Francisco based community organizations and is a member of San Francisco’s Democratic County Central Committee. 

Philhour’s campaign has been endorsed by several current members of the Board of Supervisors, state elected officials, and other local officials, including Betty Yee, California State Controller and London Breed, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. 

For more information on Marjan Philhour’s campaign, please visit: http://www.votemarjan.com/


The following is a transcript of PAAIA’s interview with Marjan Philhour:

PAAIA: What inspired you to run for public office?

Philhour: San Francisco is a dynamic, urban environment with complex challenges.  Having worked in government prior to owning my business, I see tremendous opportunities to use my skills to make my District safer and cleaner, address the issue of affordable housing, and help local businesses thrive.  Also, as a mother of three young children, I want to see San Francisco better support young families so they will see the City as a great place to raise children. 


PAAIA: Tell us a little about the office you are seeking and the district that you are running in?

Philhour: I am running for District 1 Supervisor on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. San Francisco is the only city in California that is both a city and a county, and instead of 5 County Supervisors, as is customary, we have 11 Supervisors that serve individual geographical districts.  District 1 is commonly referred to as the Richmond District in the Northwest part of town. There are 38,000 voters and 65,000 residents.


PAAIA:  What are some of the challenges you believe your campaign committee must overcome to mount a successful campaign?

Philhour: I have never run for political office, but I am well versed in how to run a campaign in San Francisco.  My biggest challenge will be boosting my name recognition, however since this is an open seat (the incumbent is termed out), I expect several opponents who will also be seeking to boost their recognition as well. I intend to knock on 24,000 doors (38,000 voters live in 24,000 households) to personally introduce myself to voters.  


PAAIA:  What are the fundraising goals of your committee?

Philhour: I will be participating in the City’s matching fund program, which caps fundraising at $253,000. The maximum allowable contribution is $500 per person, and I raised $106,000 as of June 30, 2015. Factoring in public financing, I am currently at $200,000 raised and have $30,000 more to raise to reach the cap. I made history by raising the most ever raised by a candidate for Supervisor in San Francisco, 18 months from Election Day.


PAAIA:  What differentiates you from your opponent(s)? 

Philhour: I am currently the only woman in the race, and the only candidate raising young children, which brings a different perspective to the table. I have worked in government and experienced first hand how government can work for people.


PAAIA:  What particular skills or experiences will you bring to public office?

Philhour: Having worked in government and politics before, I know how to bring people together to get things done. I have formed broad coalitions and am able to work with others to create solutions.  I also know when too much compromise is detrimental to the interests of my constituency and have no difficulty standing up for what I believe is right.


PAAIA:  What role do you think Iranian Americans can play in your campaign and what do you expect from the community? 

Philhour: My father is Iranian and he raised my brother and myself growing up.   Family members and volunteers have already given tremendous support to my campaign, both financially and with time and outreach. I would welcome both financial and organizing support from the community.


PAAIA:  What role can organizations like PAAIA play in assisting your campaign? 

Philhour: An endorsement would be an honor. It would also be helpful for PAAIA/IAPAC to consider helping me organize an Iranian community event to not only raise funds, but awareness around Iranian American political engagement. I would welcome the opportunity to produce this event to make a positive impact on our community.


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