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John Francis Shelley (1905-1974) served as San Francisco’s mayor from 1964 to 1968. He was president of the Bakery Wagon Drivers’ Union in the early 1930s, but found time to graduate from San Francisco Law School in 1932. He was elected president of the San Francisco Labor Council in 1937, then launched his successful political career with this 1938 run for the California State Senate. Ten years later, in 1948, he was elected to Congress and served eight terms before he returned to San Francisco to run for mayor against Supervisor Harold Dobbs. Shelley served only one term and, until his death in 1974, was San Francisco’s lobbyist in Sacramento.

This flyer, published in August 1938, was part of Shelley’s first political campaign. His son, Kevin, is the past president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and was elected to the state assembly from San Francisco for a term beginning in 1997. A daughter, Joan-Marie Shelley, was president of the San Francisco teacher’s union, but, in 1997, was defeated for reelection.


Progressive President of the San Francisco Labor Council

State Senatorial Candidate John Shelley in 1938

Largest AFL Local in San Francisco — Retail Department Store Employees 1100 — Endorses Shelley Amid Thunderous Applause. . . . .

Street Carmen’s Division 518 Suspends Rules Against Political Activity to Promise Shelley Support. . . .

Building Trades Council Reaffirms Shelley Endorsement. . . .

Here are some of the headlines John F. Shelley’s campaign to capture San Francisco’s lone State Senate seat was making yesterday.

Supervisor James B. McSheehy, Shelley campaign director, predicted that the union members will be “98 per cent behind Shelley regardless of affiliation.”

In addition, the Labor Council president is receiving strong support from progressive non-labor unions.

Attorney Matt Tobriner reported that Jack Shelley for Senator Lawyers’ Committee is “going to town” among the more progressive members of the legal profession.

Shelley has received unqualified endorsement of the Hayes Valley Social Club with workers in that section of the campaign promising more pledges from civic and improvement groups.

The Greater Excelsior Improvement Club, Inc., invited him to install its 1939 officers at a meeting July 28.

Realizing that the Shelley campaign can not expect financial support from many quarters, workers in the campaign are striving to “make every penny count.” They are depending to a large extent upon personal contact work by union people.

San Francisco Supervisor James McSheehy in 1938 Speaking as a business man, Supervisor McSheehy said: “Shelley’s loyalty to the workers in the American Federation of Labor has never been open to question. At the same time, he has always been concious of the general public welfare in labor-capital dispute. He knows San Francisco problems and is pledged to work for their solution.”

Stanley Leavell of Building Service Employees Local 66A, campaign secretary, declared the AFL Political League’s failure to endorse Shelley at the recent Santa Barbara convention has solidified labor and liberal support behind the candidate.

Secretary of the Shelley Union Labor Speakers Bureau, George Hardy, announced that many friends of the candidate have agreed to conduct a “chain telephone campaign.” Each person who has pledged to enter this phase of the campaign will telephone five of his friends, requesting a vote for Shelley and they, in turn, telephone five of their friends. This appeal is being supplemented by a letter chain.

Among the local unions which have turned in endorsements of Shelley are: International Jewelry Workers, Watchmakers Local 102; Bakery and Confectionery Workers Auxiliary No. 24; Retail Cigar and Liquor Clerks No. 1089; San Francisco Joint Board, International Ladies Garment Workers Union; International Union of Operating Engineers No. 64; Auto Mechanics No. 1305; Pharmacists; Futurniture Workers, and San Francisco-Oakland Newspaper Guild.

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