Dead Kennedy’s: The Time Jello Biafra Ran For Mayor of San Francisco

Dead Kennedy’s Jello Biafra Runs For Mayor in 1979

Back in 1979, Jello Biafra, the charismatic frontman for the punk group ‘Dead Kennedy’s ran for mayor of San Francisco. Check out the story from Rock N’ Roll True Stories.

What’s going on my fellow rock n’ rollers. Don’t forget to the bell notification icon to be notified every time i put out a new video on my channel. Initially active from 1978 to 1986,the super charged punk quartet known as Dead Kennedys blended together the styles of surf rock, rockabilly and garage rock. Frontman Jello Biafra’s far left leaning politically-charged lyrics provided a blistering attack on social issues at the time.
In the fall of 1979, Biafra ran for mayor of San Francisco after the band’s drummer told him. “Biafra, you have such a big mouth that you should run for Mayor.” Deciding to put his money where his mouth was, he threw his hat in the ring.

In San Francisco any individual can legally run for mayor if a petition was signed by 1500 people or if $1500 was paid. Biafra paid $900 and got signatures over a period of time and eventually met the requirements to became a candidate. And due to election laws in San Francisco at the time, this meant that Biafra would have statements put in voters pamphlets and receive equal airtime from news stations.
Biafra would re-purpose the famous Jell-O tagline “There’s always room for Jello”, for his political campaign.While
today San Francisco is a haven for the wealthy, especially those in the tech industry, but in the 70’s it seemed like a warzone with Drugs. Murder, racial tensions and Corruption. The mayor of the City George Moscone was assassinated in 1978 as was City Supervisor Harvey Milk. Following Moscone’s murder Diane Feinstein who had previously served as the President of the Board of Supervisors would would become the new mayor and serve out the rest of Moscone’s term. What was strange about Biafra’s political campaig nwas that he had no platform when he entered the race. He would end up writing his campaign platform on a napkin while he attended a Pere Ubu concert.

And the two main candidates for Mayor were Dianne Feinstein and Quentin Kopp. Feinstein was a democrat and currently serves as a senator in Washington D.C. for California, while Quentin Cop was originally a Republican but became an independent.

So where did Biafra fit in. Well he would tell Louder Sound and ia quote She (referring to Feinstein) ran the city with an iron fist, and the police were completely out of control, which she seemed to get off on. I have never been very fond of her, and any grief I can cause that creature, I’m happy to oblige. But that wasn’t why I ran for Mayor. It was more like: wouldn’t this be a great prank?” he’d say.

what was his platform you’re probably asking. Well according to the san francisco weekly newspaper his platform included:

Businessmen to wear clown suits within city limits
Holding elections in which police would be voted into office by the neighborhoods they patrolled
Appointing a board of bribery that would set fair bribery prices.
Tearing down Pier 39
Legalizing squatting in vacant, tax-delinquent buildings
Paying the unemployed to panhandle in wealthy neighborhoods including Feinstein’s .
Banning cars citywide, and
Erecting a statue of Dan White (who assassinated former Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk the previous year) and having the parks department sell eggs, stones, and tomatoes with which to pelt it with
These weren’t just crazy proposals Biafra thought of off the top of his head. He would tell Loudersound how making businessmen where clown suits was in response to Feinstein saying she was going to “clean up” certain parts of the City, which he interpreted as meaning she was going to throw all the homeless people out of the vacant buildings, which they were squatting at.
Throughout the campaign Biafra did several notable things. He held a news conference at city hall. He then went on to do calls shaking babies and kissing hands He wore campaign T-shirts from his opponent Quentin Kopp’s previous campaign and mocked his opponent Dianne Feinstein who during the same campaign sweept the streets of downtown san francisco for a few hours. In turn Biafra vacuumed leaves off the front lawn of Dianne Feinstein home. So you’re maybe wondering how did he do in the campaign? Well he would finish third out of a field of ten, receiving about 3.79 percent of the vote or about 6600 votes. The election ended in a runoff that did not involve him as Feinstein was declared the winner and would serve as mayor for the next decade.
In the years that followed Biafra ran for president as a Green Party candidate in 2000 but lost to Ralph Nader. Meanwhile Diane Feinstein as i said before serves as a senator for the state of california in washington DC and is on the senate judiciary committe, while Copp would become a judge before retiring. So that does it for today’s video guys. Thanks for watching. Be sure to hit the like button and subscribe. If you guys have suggestions for future topics let me know in the comments section below. Take care.