Art Agnos endorses Dennis Herrera despite long history with Ed Lee

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Back in 1989, then-Mayor Art Agnos hired someone to run the fledgling whistleblower program, a hire that proved to have true staying power. That person would later end up heading the Human Rights Commission, the Department of Public Works, become city administrator and then be appointed mayor of the city of San Francisco.

If you haven’t been following city politics for the last seven months, you might not know that the very person Agnos hired was current Mayor Ed Lee.

But despite Lee’s success back then, Agnos doesn’t think he deserves to be elected mayor now. He is, instead, supporting City Attorney Dennis Herrera for mayor.

“Twenty years ago he was competent and a skilled staffer,” Agnos told The Examiner on Tuesday. “That’s a big difference than being a mayor. I haven’t talked to him since he became mayor. I don’t know Ed Lee today. But the fundamental decision going forward is who will be the best mayor and I think that will be Dennis Herrera.”

Agnos said it was Herrera’s ability to expose fraud, waste, abuse and corruption in city government as some of his top qualities. He said he is a man who listens to neighborhood concerns while knowing every facet of city government.

Of course, it would be silly to think that the selection process that put Lee in the Mayor’s Office didn’t have an effect on Agnos’ endorsement. After all, Agnos was on the short list to replace outgoing Mayor Gavin Newsom before some backroom dealing delivered the necessary votes to put Lee in office.

“I made it very clear to the Board of Supervisors that if they wanted someone to only serve one year, I was the person who could’ve done that,” Agnos said. “I would not have run for a second four year term.”

Lee made the same promise to the supervisors, but on Monday went back on that word, saying that he was convinced that it was for the best interest in The City and for the new era of civility in city government for him to run for mayor.

So would Agnos have been tempted to break his word too?

“I think keeping commitments are a very important reflection of how one will do in the future, and I mean that in Lee’s case even though his commitment was to the Board of Supervisors and not the people of San Francisco.”

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

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