My name is Karen Zapata. I’ve been a public school teacher in San Francisco since 1996. In 1998, I married the love of my life, John Avalos. We’ve lived in the Excelsior ever since and have been truly blessed with 2 wonderful children, Rene and Emiliano. In 2007 we were finally able to buy a small house near Crocker-Amazon Park, but, believe me, there is no margin for error in our monthly budget! I’m currently teaching the 4th grade at San Francisco Community School, where both Rene and Emiliano also go to school.
As a teacher, I see up-close how our system does not prioritize kids, especially those who are the most in need. But I believe we have the power to put children first. That’s why I have been organizing with Teachers 4 Social Justice — to affect meaningful change in the classroom, school, and community. My husband shares my passion for social justice; for almost 20 years, John has worked to empower communities, especially here in District 11. It was John’s community work that led him to City Hall, so that he could make a bigger impact on people’s lives. That’s why he’s running for Mayor.
On most days, it feels like I’m running for Mayor too! I love my family and our community so much that this race has been pretty emotional for me. But when it comes to tough times, the Zapata-Avalos family has lots of perspective: our daughter Rene was born 16 weeks early, while we were traveling to visit family for the holidays. Rene battled for her life, and after 4 months and 2 hospitals, she came home. Through it all, John was a Super-Dad. Not only was he glued to Rene’s bedside, he also navigated the complicated hospital bureaucracies and managed interactions with doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators to make sure Rene got the care she needed. But John and I couldn’t have done it alone. Faced with the adversity of our first child’s life in the balance, separated from our home, and with skyrocketing medical bills, a community of people rallied to support us.
Hillary Clinton helped popularize the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” As I see other young families struggling — with violence, health care, education, and affordability — I truly empathize, and I know that, if our community came together, we could be that village supporting those families. This is a vision that John and I share. As Supervisor, John has brought his passion for social justice, his genuine experience in community, and his perseverance through adversity to City Hall. As Mayor, I know that John will continue this work and lead our City in a way that ensures every San Franciscan gets the support they need.