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Peskin calls for vote on interim SF mayor, eight candidates file to run

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The Mayor’s Office is seen guarded by two sheriff’s deputies inside San Francisco City Hall December 12, 2017. (Jessica Christian/2017 S.F. Examiner)

Eight candidates filed to run for the unexpected June mayoral race by Tuesday’s deadline and a vote by the Board of Supervisors as early as next week could determine whether an incumbent is in the contest.

That’s because the board may vote on naming an interim mayor as early as Jan. 16 who wouldn’t run in the election. Board of Supervisors President London Breed became acting mayor Dec. 12 per The City’s charter when Mayor Ed Lee died unexpectedly.

Breed is among the eight candidates who filed to run for mayor and would have a significant advantage in the contest as an incumbent. There is push by San Francisco’s more left-leaning factions to knock her out of the post because they argue all candidates should have an equal playing field heading into the June 5 election.

In addition to Breed, three other well-known candidates filed by Tuesday’s 5 p.m. deadline: former state Sen. Mark Leno, Supervisor Jane Kim and former Supervisor Angela Alioto. Four other lesser known candidates are Amy Farah Weiss, who ran against Lee in his re-election bid, Richie Greenberg, Ellen Lee Zhou, who helped organize anti-cannabis rallies, and Michelle Bravo.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin introduced Tuesday a motion to have the board vote on naming an interim mayor Jan. 16. If the vote occurs, there would be public comment and a nomination process. It’s likely the board could go through multiple rounds of voting on nominees until someone gets the at least six votes needed needed on the 11-member board to be appointed.

“This is a very rare and extremely sad circumstance and it puts the board in the position that it has been in a handful of times over history of having to wrestle with those provisions in the charter in and around interim mayor,” Peskin said.

“I don’t think we should have a mixing [of] the two branches of government for a prolonged period of time. I don’t know where the votes are on this body. Only time will tell. I think that it is our duty to have that conversation. And most importantly to hear from the public.”

The board’s clerk had polled members of the board whether they would be around for a special meeting on Jan. 16.

Peskin had thanked Breed for “her willingness and openness to schedule” the meeting, but it remains unclear if such a meeting will be scheduled for that day or another day. The meeting could be scheduled by Breed, which is one power of the board president, or by six members of the board. No meeting was scheduled as of press time.

The deadline to schedule a meeting on Jan. 16 is Thursday, needing a 72 hour notice.

Meanwhile, supervisors have publicly stated varying positions. Supervisor Ahsha Safai told the Examiner Monday he wouldn’t support a “caretaker” mayor (someone to hold the post until June and not run) and supported Breed in the post. Supervisor Jeff Sheehy also told the Examiner on Friday he supports Breed.

Kim, like Peskin, has called for a caretaker. So has Leno, who Peskin has endorsed for mayor.

Claire Lau, interim co-chair of the San Francisco Progressive Alliance, said while Breed is allowed under The City’s charter to serve in the dual roles, such a provision should only be used for a brief period of time.

Having Breed as acting mayor and a District 5 representative on the board of which she is also the president “is too much power to have in one person and upsets the balance of powers in the executive and legislative branch of City Hall,” Lau said following a rally outside of City Hall calling on the board to appoint a caretaker mayor.

“We should be having a field of candidates who all have an equal chance and they should be showing the voters why we need to elect them and not one person already having the power and the control,” Lau said.

Breed’s supporters have suggested those looking to knock Breed out of the post are being racist or sexist. But Lau said they were “twisting” their message and that there were plenty of other qualified women of color who could serve as a caretaker.

Supporters of Breed showed up at the meeting during public comment to support her remaining in the post, including Fred Jordan, president of the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce, and Ken Johnson, who said he was born and raised in San Francisco.

“Supervisor Breed has been the president of the board twice. You guys voted her in twice. That shows she’s super qualified. Plus look at her life,” Johnson said. “Her whole life has been spent working to better the city, to better the community. You can’t have a better person as mayor as you have there now.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional information.

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