Mayor Lee expected to wait until January to appoint new supervisor

Mayor Ed Lee is expected to wait until next year to appoint Supervisor Scott Wiener’s replacement on the Board of Supervisors, even though the vacancy begins Monday.

That’s because if the mayor waits until Jan. 8, whomever he appoints could serve a maximum of 10 years in office – the remainder of Wiener’s term plus two four-year terms – under city charter rules. Otherwise, the person would only be allowed to serve up to six years.

The appointee would run for election in 2018.

Wiener became the the District 8 supervisor, representing the Castro, Upper Market and Noe Valley neighborhoods, in January 2011. He is expected to be sworn in Monday to the District 11 state Senate seat, replacing termed-out state Sen. Mark Leno.

SEE RELATED: City Hall bids farewell to Supervisor Wiener

Keeping the seat vacant until Jan. 8 would also have implications for the possible mayoral veto of the board’s recently adopted 60-day annual cap on Airbnb rentals. That would also ensure the appointee wouldn’t have to make a political challenging vote right out of the gate.

This week, the board approved the 60-day cap on Airbnb and other short-term rentals in a 7-3 vote. One of Wiener’s last votes in office was joining Supervisors Katy Tang and Malia Cohen in ensuring the Airbnb law did not achieve a veto-proof majority. (Supervisor Mark Farrell excuses himself on votes related to short-term rentals citing business interests.)

But Wiener won’t be around to actually vote should the mayor veto the legislation.

The law needs at least eight votes to override a possible mayoral veto, and the mayor has 10 days to veto it. The board then has 30 days to vote on whether to overturn the veto.

SEE RELATED: District 3 has no representation on SF Board of Supervisors

If the District 8 seat is left vacant, then that is an all but guarantee the board couldn’t get to eight votes.

There are a number of potential District 8 appointees being mentioned by City Hall insiders including Conor Johnston, a legislative aide to Board of Supervisors President London Breed; retired Navy Cmdr. Zoe Dunning who fought the military’s ban on the LGBT community in 1993; Alex Randolph, who was re-elected to the City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees in November; and Dan Bernal, a longtime aide to Democratic Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

The mayor has been visiting Seoul, South Korea since Monday.

Meanwhile, Wiener said Thursday he supports the mayor waiting until Jan. 8 to make an appointment.

“The mayor is considering several strong candidates, and I’m sure he will make a good choice,” Wiener told the San Francisco Examiner in a text message. “The new supervisor needs to be someone who can work effectively with the residents of our district as well as be a citywide leader on key policy issues. I support the appointment occurring on January 8.”

There is precedence for the mayor to wait to appoint to ensure his appointee can serve the maximum amount allowed under city rules. He waited to appoint Julie Christensen to the District 3 seat, which was vacated when David Chiu won the assembly seat in 2014. Christensen ended up losing her post in an election against Aaron Peskin, the current seat holder.

“The mayor is doing his due diligence to find the best candidate to represent District 8 and The City,” the mayor’s spokesperson Deirdre Hussey said. “The mayor will make his decision when he feels he has identified the appropriate candidate.”

Joshua Sabatini

Joshua Sabatini covers City Hall for the San Francisco Examiner. Reach him at

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Joshua Sabatini

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