SF voters reject measure to create public advocate

San Francisco will not create a new elected position of public advocate.

Voters on Tuesday appear to have rejected Proposition H, which would have established The City’s first elected public advocate position, an idea mostly modeled after New York City where the position has been deemed a success.

In San Francisco, the public advocate would have appointed the director of the Office of Citizen Complaints, which investigates allegations of police misconduct; had subpoena power; introduced legislation at the Board of Supervisors; contracted with outside, independent experts; investigated contracts and city departments; and handled some whistleblower complaints.

Supporters had said the public advocate position was the right check and balance for City Hall, where the mayor holds much of the power.

One of the main criticisms was that the position duplicates city functions. For example, there is a Board of Supervisors to respond to residents’ concerns and a City Controller’s Office that audits government functions.

The City Controller’s Office had estimated the creation of a public advocate will cost between $600,000 and $800,000 to pay for the four required positions. The measure also recommended a large staff which was estimated to cost a total of an additional $2.8 million and $3.5 million annually.

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