Rostam, San Francisco's New Sheriff, Sharmin gets Wiped...

Mirkarimi has always had a fond spot in his heart for Law Enforcement


Rostam, San Francisco's New Sheriff, Sharmin gets Wiped...
by bahmani

Ross (Rostam) Mirkarimi became the first Iranian American Sheriff of San Francisco County and history last night in the local elections that also selected the first Chinese-American mayor of San Francisco.

Mirkarimi a longtime City Supervisor, and veteran politician, puzzled many local Iranians and friends and supporters when he chose to run for the Sheriff spot over running for mayor.

Obviously everyone has been pulling for an Iranian-American to become the first US mayor now for years. Jimmy Delshad in Beverly Hills isn't an elected mayorship but a city council honorary rotation appointment. So sorry BH, that doesn't count. No one voted for Jimmy.

Mirkarimi has always had a fond spot in his heart for Law Enforcement, and even entered the Police Academy when he was working for the SF DA's office as an investigator. Ross graduated the Academy top of his class.

Next, Ross founded California's branch of the Green Party, which fronted a candidate for Mayor, a feisty young Matt Gonzalez, who almost beat Gavin Newsome in his first run. Ross was the Gonzalez campaign strategist that darn near pulled off the first Green Party Mayor of SF. After that, Ross became an instant force on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and the front man to many of the city's biggest and coolest legislation.

A trademark move by Ross, and a testament to what a class act he is, were the annual NoRooz parties he hosted in his offices at SF City Hall. Everyone was invited and everyone went every year.

But why not go for Mayor this time around? The perplexed look on many Iranian faces when Ross announced his bid for Sheriff has been interesting. The bemused, "I'm trying to be supportive, but I'm disappointed" look.

Personally I think it was a brilliant strategy. If Ross ran for mayor, he would have most certainly lost to one of the 5 Chinese-American candidates. San Francisco has a very large Chinese-American and Asian population. If Ross stayed on the Board of Supes, he would have had to differentiate himself from the Mayor by opposing a Chinese-American mayor. Not a good idea.

But everyone loves the Sheriff! And with outgoing Sheriff Hennessy's endorsement, Ross won last night by a large margin. I'm just not sure the NoRooz parties will be the same. It's a lot different when your host can also arrest you!

With a name like Sharmin (in the US) you're going to get wiped.

Just so you know it pains me to say I told you so, I am writing this on May 16th 2011, predicting the election result and publishing it after the election of the San Francisco District Attorney, a job that our own Sharmin Bock, certainly and rightly deserves, but unfortunately never had the slightest chance of winning, for one main reason I am about to state.

But first, just to remind you, this was written on May 16th 2011.

America and especially American politics, is a brand-conscious, nomenclature driven, buzz word buzzy buzz buzz landscape. Image, recognition, memorability, and meeting the expectation and predictable reaction that you intend to set up for yourself, is this iteration of Americana are absolutely critical to achieving even the mildest level of political office success in the US.

Iranians for the most part don't seem to get this. Iranians think that just because you want to do something, that is good enough to do it, and the details of how to get there, from here, don't apply or matter it seems.

Choosing an American name is also not our best suit. I'm lucky, my family name is relatively easy to pronounce, Bahmani. It even sounds Italian (which I have to correct right away!). My parents smartly gave me 2 first names, Behrouz and Bruce. I've done this with my own kids. It's optional.

Sharmin Bock is a prime example of a bad first name. I think you know where I'm going. While Sharmin may have had no choice in choosing her Iranian first name, the obvious realization and changing the spelling of it seems to have escaped her and her less than brilliant team. In fact since she has undoubtedly lost the election by the time you will read this, it is now a critical mistake.

While there is little doubt (just a little) that she may have indeed been over qualified for the job, with every accolade, years of hard work digging through caseload upon caseload with dogged tireless perseverance of a pitbull on Chaiee, achieving a conviction rate in the high 90's, nothing but nothing, but nothing, would have ever helped her get even one vote more than the mere 21% of the vote she got last night, coming in a distant but easy 3rd. [Note: I added in the numbers after the results were published just now which is November 9, 2011]

Her first name Sharmin as spelled and pronounced happens to ONLY remind every single American (and voters) alive or dead during the past 50 years, of the most premium brand of toilet paper ever created by mankind on this or any other planet!

While Charmin is the best toilet paper. It's not the kind of brand identity you want to evoke in an election. That's about as delicately as I can put it.

As sad as it makes me to say this a full 6 months in advance of the election, on May 16, 2011 to be exact, the very cruel fact of the matter is that you simply cannot EVER win ANY election when your name is synonymous with Charmin. Which again, in case I have not been clear, is a brand of common toilet paper!

Anyone anywhere near her campaign, that thought it would be OK, knew this and lied to her and NO ONE thought to tell her to change the pronunciation and spelling of her name from Sharmin to Sharmeen, which is her freaking actual exact Iranian name!

Unlike NowRuz, everyone and anyone can read Sharmeen and pronounce it correctly!

Sharmeen does 2 things: it deftly bypasses the allusion and subconscious association with the top brand of American toilet paper. And it's the way your real name is pronounced! So it's more honest than Sharmin.

Apparently Sharmeen didn't know any of this though, and honestly who can blame her? She's an outstanding DA's office attorney. That's all she ever needs to be.

But on May 16, 2011 though, I knew this, and what burns me now is that I didn't have the heart or guts to post this then. I know that if I had, I would have certainly gotten a load of complaints and outrage and accusations of being against my own people from readers.

This is one of those painful instances where you are damned if you do, and now damned worse when you didn't.

Condolences to Sharmeen. Better luck (and a better campaign team) next time. You deserved both.


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First I want to congratulate Rostam. It is a fine name for a Sherrif. You got to be tough to get the job and Rostam is as good as it get. A fine name. 

Now for names.

Try running for office in Iran if your name is "Gerry Cooney". You got one chance and that is in Ghazvin.