Broke-Ass Stuart Runs For Mayor, Looks To Fix San Francisco’s “Major Fucking Problem”

Broke-Ass Stuart has basically been it all. “Travel Writer. TV Host. Poet. A Motherfucking Hustler.”

He’s written three books on how to live inexpensively. Stuart had his own travel TV show on IFC called Young, Broke & Beautiful, and his work has appeared in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, US Airways Magazine, 7×7, The San Francisco Bay Guardian, The Bold Italic and others. His motto of sorts is, “What makes life interesting is not the things that you own, but the shit that you do.”

He arrived in the Bay Area by way of the University of Santa Cruz. “The next step was come here and move on up the coast, and so I did. I felt in love with the city,” he says. 

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Now a San Franciscan for 13 years, Stuart, whose full name is Stuart Schuffman, announced in May in the San Francisco Examiner that he would challenge incumbent Ed Lee and run for Mayor. Schuffman, however, does not especially expect himself to win. He told SFist his campaign is a “journalistic experiment.” He’s also called it a protest campaign. He’s spreading a certain message through the tech-oriented west coast city.

Schuffman has experience in politics as his high school’s Vice President and Treasurer at High School at UC High, in University City, San Diego. One of his major campaign focuses is affordable housing and solving the homeless epidemic in San Francisco.

His is not the first protest campaign in San Francisco’s recent history. Chicken John ran in 2007 and earned more than 1 percent of the vote. Although he goes out on the street to talk to San Franciscans, Schuffman has received a considerable amount of engagement throughout his campaign on Facebook.

“I have a large following and I care for my city,” Schuffman tells Hacked. “I’ve been running a lot of my campaign online. I still get out there and shake the hands of people on the streets, but people are less committal online, so we will see what happens on election day.” Although Schuffman has never worked in tech, he has been an entrepreneur his whole life, as well as worked in bars.

“Despite that I’ve never worked in the tech industry, I do use the technology every day and understand those mechanisms and what makes it run,” he says. “This city is all about tech. I’ve been verySF critical of tech culture because I think it’s fair to be critical, but there is nothing innately wrong with tech nor people who work in tech.” He simply believes the current status quo is unsustainable and must be changed.

“The current regime is so fucking corrupted,” he explains.  “They are repeatedly bowing to hidden interests and ignoring the needs of the people. Nobody wants to live in a city just full of nothing more than business. What makes cities special are the people who live inside of it.” Schuffman doesn’t want the tech companies out.

“I simply think tech companies should pay their taxes, instead of receive exemptions, and that they should work more cohesively with the city,” the mayoral candidate opines. “San Francisco has some of the best minds of our generation, yet we aren’t using this massive brain power to solve homelessness, hunger or create a fairer democracy.”

If he were mayor, Schuffman says he would push to make these things happen with partners in technology. That many San Franciscans are distressed over high housing prices is well-known. Schuffman acknowledges this and wants to help fix the problem in housing.

“There is a major fucking problem. There’s a crisis, actually,” Schuffman says. “But nothing is gonna be done overnight. It took us a long time to get into this situation, it’s going to take us a long time to get out of it.” He doesn’t think the market will solve the problem.

“We need to build affordable housing,” he submits.

“The market does what it wants and the people on top win,” Schuffman describes. “If you want apple juice you go to the store, you don’t plant a tree and wait for an apple to fall out. Pro market types say ‘build, build, build, the market will take care of it.’ But, that’s not good enough. I am for building a lot of affordable housing. I’m pro prop I and Prop F.”

Part of Schuffman’s motivation is to preserve San Francisco’s diversity.

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“I love San Francisco because people of all different cultures are always out-and-about, walking or riding a bike,” he says. “You see all types of other people and other cultures and interact with them. It’s amazing.” It’s this variety of people that makes San Francisco such a special place.

“If Ed Lee is re-elected, I worry we might lose this part of the city,” he laments. The internet personality admits San Francisco suffers from a certain apathy.

“People move here and plan to live here only 4-5 years, make some money and leave,” he elucidates. “And that’s fine if that is your thing. But you are still making a very large footprint here, so it’s your duty to care.” He paints the picture with a nice analogy.

“If you go over to someone’s house and knock over a bottle of wine you don’t say ‘I am leaving in two hours, so I am not picking that up,’” Schuffman outlines. “That’d be insane. “You help clean up your mess. The same goes for people who are here. We’re all apart of the mess. That’s the message I’m trying to get across.” Schuffman thinks long work hours harm people’s experience with the city, and thus limits their ability to truly get to know it.

“People here work too many hours,” he says. “They uber to work, uber home, get home and are so tired they order take-out then go to bed.” People miss out on what San Francisco is all about.

“It’s all about the streets here and meeting everyone in the streets, and so by working such a long work week you miss out,” he says. Schuffman sums up his platform succinctly.

“Ultimately, the policies should be the same: people first, not profits,” he says. “There is always going to be profit.” His hopes his campaign inspires people to get involved.

“This world is yours. We are building a movement to get corporate money out of politics,” he says.

The San Francisco mayoral election takes place November 3, 2015.

Author:
Justin O'Connell is the founder of financial technology focused CryptographicAsset.com. Justin organized the launch of the largest Bitcoin ATM hardware and software provider in the world at the historical Hotel del Coronado in southern California. His works appear in the U.S.'s third largest weekly, the San Diego Reader, VICE and elsewhere.