Some people think we vote on too many things and especially so with this year’s extensive ballot. (“What’s this crap on the ballot?” Sept. 29, 2016, In My View.) But giving voters in each district the ability to vote for who represents them is the most basic issue of all.
Aside from the fact that any charter amendment requires voter approval, this measure is about the essential right for voters to make a very important decision for our representative government.
Under Proposition D, if a supervisor position became vacant, then you, the district voters, would get to elect your interim supervisor right away to fill out the term. Right now, the mayor appoints the interim supervisor, an appointment that could last for up to two years.
Among the many problems with the current mayoral appointment system are: It violates the basic constitutional principle of separation of powers between the executive and the legislative branches; it gives the mayoral appointee up to two years to vote the mayor’s way on the Board of Supervisors; it grants the power of incumbency to the mayoral appointee; and it gives the mayor as long a time as he or she wants to fill a position. Some seats have remained vacant for months.
Prop. D corrects this imbalance of powers, because it:
Requires that the mayor select an appointee for all vacant elected offices within 28 days;
Requires that the mayoral appointee be temporary;
Requires that a special election be held within a short period of time, so that you decide on your district supervisor;
Does not allow the mayor’s temporary appointee to run in the special election, eliminating the power of incumbency and giving City Hall outsiders a fighting chance;
Does all of the above at a minimal cost — approximately .0009 percent of San Francisco’s annual $9.6 billion budget. The price of democracy was never so little.
Neither side is made up of idiots or demons. The debate over Prop. D should not be about impugned motives or diabolical plots, but rather it reflects your right to participate in the decisions that affect your life.
A broad spectrum of groups already supports Prop. D, including the Sierra Club, Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, San Francisco Democratic Party, San Francisco Tomorrow and League of Women Voters.
Let’s elect our elected officials — please vote Yes on Proposition D.
Larry Bush is a founder of Friends of Ethics, a volunteer group working with the Ethics Commission to improve its performance. Katherine Howard is a community advocate for protecting San Francisco’s parks and open space.