On being Leslie Katz: A woman of too many talents

I am super woman. Hear me roar.

Not only am I a full-time writer and layout editor for the Jewish Bulletin, I have my own law practice. As if that weren't enough, "Da Mayor" has just appointed me to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. I've got it goin' on!

Of course, I have the distinction of being an attorney without ever having opened a law book. And I get to be a supervisor without ever having to show up at meetings or take political heat. That's because it's not me, but the other Leslie Katz who's the lawyer and not me, but the other Leslie Katz who's the newly appointed supe.

Judging by all the congratulatory calls that have flooded in the last few days, however, there are still those who haven't figured that latter fine point out.

The day the San Francisco Chronicle announced Mayor Willie Brown's two supervisorial appointments, Katz and the Rev. Amos Brown, a woman named Mary left a message on my home answering machine offering to "help." I assume she wants to jump-start Supervisor Katz's November re-election campaign.

But hey, if anyone's interested, I'm willing to accept donations, too. My bathroom sink leaks and the paint on my front steps is chipping — doesn't that tug at any charitable hearts?

This week, I caught up with my namesake to congratulate her and pass on her latest batch of phone messages. While I had her on the line, I decided to shift to reporter mode and ask what it was like being plunged into "super" stardom.

"I'm delighted and excited," said the 34-year-old Katz, a former president of the San Francisco City College governing board. Mayor Brown has called her "a proven talent, a lawyer with a sense of community."

Together with Barbara Kaufman, she is also one of two Jewish supervisors.

A graduate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's leadership development program, Katz is an at-large member of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Relations Council. Openly lesbian, she is also a member of San Francisco's Congregation Sha'ar Zahav, a Reform congregation with outreach to the gay and lesbian community.

Katz admitted that facing re-election only six months after being appointed to the board is "daunting." But I told her about Mary's offer to "help," and that seemed to ease her mind a bit.

By now, I, Leslie Sarah Katz, am used to getting mistaken for Leslie Rachel Katz.

I frequently get her phone calls, including invites to political dinners and donation pleas from the various causes with which she is affiliated. She, on the other hand, reports getting compliments on her Jewish Bulletin stories — and being asked how she handles the dual rigors of political life and newspaper deadlines.

To make matters more complicated, we're both short thirty-somethings with curlyish brown hair, a fact I noted when I met Katz for the first time at a political function earlier this year. And we both spent our undergraduate years at U.C. Berkeley.

Even my husband, Aaron, has gotten in on the confusion. A couple of years back, when he marched alongside former San Francisco Supervisor Carole Migden in the annual gay and lesbian pride parade, he strutted right up to Katz and announced "I'm your husband." Ba-da-bing.

But as if having one matching moniker in my life isn't enough, other Leslie Katzes lurk in the shadows of my tenuous identity. One is a professional photographer; another, a freelance writer, has just applied to work at the Jewish Bulletin. Let's hope she's amenable to changing her name.

But that I can worry about later. For now, I've got my hands full fielding calls about my election to the board of supes.

Andy Ross of the Chronicle's muckraking Matier & Ross column gave me a call. I wish I had some good dish for him; all I could give him was the real Leslie Katz's number.

The other night, just as I was settling into a peaceful slumber, I got a call from a man asking for Supervisor Katz. When I told him that wasn't me, it didn't seem to matter. The San Francisco company where he works, he said, is discriminating against him because he is African American; as a result, his life is in crisis. I guess sometimes any Leslie Katz will do.

Even despite such late-night surprises, there is probably no one happier about Leslie Katz's ascendance than I. After all, who wants a namesake known for a shooting rampage in a subway car? I got myself a shining star in San Francisco politics who always seems to do the right thing.

But now that's she's been elected supervisor, I have one request of the public. While I'll gladly accept donations and, as always, admiration, if anyone's got complaints about the city sewage system or MUNI, please do not address them to me.

Leslie Katz

Leslie Katz is a former J. staff writer.