Former San Francisco Police Officer Association president Gary Delagnes is known for his verbal ferocity and scorched earth tactics.
This time, however, all his hell-raising may amount to pretty much bupkis, nil, nada — because the politician he’s seeking to remove from office may not even run to keep her seat, anyway.
First, the latest. An email obtained by this columnist Tuesday shows Delagnes is now raising money for the recall effort against Supervisor Sandra Fewer, who represents the Richmond District on the Board of Supervisors, and infamously spurred a chant of “FUCK THE POA!” during a heated election last November.
Delagnes is asking cops, in particular, to pony up.
“You can stand up for the hard-working men and women in law enforcement by pitching in what you can today,” Delagnes wrote in an email specifically aimed at current and former San Francisco police. “Every amount will help – $25, $50, $100, will make a difference!”
Maybe it won’t.
Here’s the rub — Fewer herself told me Tuesday she may not even run to retain her seat in November, making the already longshot recall attempt (why recall someone when they’re already facing reelection?) even more futile.
Instead, long-time City Hall political staffer Connie Chan is gearing up for her own possible candidacy, waiting in the wings for Fewer’s final decision.
“I want to appreciate Connie putting her name in because it takes courage to run,” Fewer told me Tuesday. “Connie has a lot of experience at City Hall and I think she knows her neighborhood well.”
That could potentially be a game-changer for the November election. Even those in the know from the moderate Democrat side of the equation — opponents of Fewer’s progressive allies — tell me Fewer would coast to reelection. The Board of Supervisors already has a number of thorny, challenging races in November anyhow, meaning political resources are spread thin.
And Mayor London Breed gets along with Fewer well enough, meaning the Mod Squad has even less incentive to mount a serious campaign against Fewer, especially with former supervisor Vallie Brown looking to mount a comeback against Supervisor Dean Preston.
But if a relative electoral newcomer were to run, that might change the equation. Chan might see real opposition, I’m told.
Still, she has a fighting chance. Now a district representative for Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco), Chan has worked as a legislative aide in City Hall for former supervisor Sophie Maxwell and for Supervisor Aaron Peskin, and played multiple roles in then-District Attorney Kamala Harris’ office as well as at City College of San Francisco. So Chan knows the City Hall game, and its players.
She’s also a San Franciscan and first-generation immigrant born in Hong Kong and raised in Chinatown, as well as a Galileo High School graduate. She moved to the Richmond District in 2011, where she raises her 6-year-old son with her husband, a firefighter. (Full disclosure, Chan was also, briefly, a San Francisco Examiner columnist writing about the Chinese community.)
Chan deferred to Fewer for comment, since the supervisor has not yet made a decision on whether or not she’ll ultimately run to keep her seat.
So why the bad blood between Delagnes and Fewer anyhow?
Fewer first landed on Delagnes’ radar after opposing the implementation of Tasers in 2018, Delagnes told me Tuesday. Still, that’s a long list — nearly every politician and group in San Francisco opposed Taser implementation in SFPD, especially after a number of high profile deaths related to their use.
The POA told me they hold Fewer accountable for failing to fund needed crisis intervention training during the 2019 budget, with only half of the force trained in. the much-needed tactic, which leads to fewer use-of-force incidents.
Regardless, their political disagreements led to Delagnes threatening to oust the personnel records of Supervisor Fewer’s husband, John Fewer, a former police sergeant whose use-of-force history has made the news before. As Joe Eskenazi reported in Mission Local yesterday,
“Perhaps he [John Fewer] should sit down and think about all of the complaints he received, and maybe recall some of his alleged actions, as I did last night, and let’s see how that will play in front of his wife’s colleagues at the Board. His disciplinary record is quite entertaining, I assure you. They are free to call my bluff if they wish,” Delagnes wrote in 2018, according to Mission Local.
With that ultimatum dangling in the back of her head, Fewer, you may recall, shouted “FUCK THE POA!” at an election night party in November for District Attorney Chesa Boudin, the former deputy public defender whose erstwhile opponents include the leadership of the Police Officers Association.
The ensuing chant, “FUCK THE POA! FUCK THE POA!” at that campaign party made the news, leading to condemnation from Tony Montoya, the current POA president.
Fewer later clarified she intended to verbally smack around the POA’s leadership, not its members. Delagnes’ threat was aimed not just at her — which she is used to — but against her loved ones.
“I was elected to be a supervisor in San Francisco,” she told me Tuesday. “Let me do my job without worrying about the POA harming my family.”
It also earned the ire of Tony Montoya, the current POA president, who condemned Delagnes’ tactics in an email to membership sent just this week.
“To threaten to expose a former police officer’s personnel records is dangerous, wrong, and hypocritical,” Montoya wrote. “The current SFPOA leadership had no knowledge of the threats levied by Mr. Delagnes and we fully denounce his actions. It’s appalling that a former union president would contemplate sacrificing the personal privacy of one our members in order to satisfy a grossly misguided personal vendetta.”
Montoya agreed with Delagnes’ general point that Fewer is no friend of the POA, calling her “unfit for public office.” However, Montoya told me that recall efforts “do not work in San Francisco,” referencing previous failed efforts against former mayors Ed Lee and Dianne Feinstein.
When I asked Delagnes straight-up what sense it makes to run a recall effort against someone who is up for election anyhow, he likened it to the United States’ current impeachment debate.
“Isn’t that what Trump said?” Delagnes asked me.
“They’re not going to impeach her, but they’re trying to make a point that they don’t like her” to damage her reelection prospects, he said.
That is, if she runs. Rumors have swirled for months now — heck, maybe even as long as a year — that Fewer would not run for her second term in office in District 1.
That’s despite a number of victories, including creating an Office of Racial Equity with former supervisor Vallie Brown, introducing a task force to spur the creation of a San Francisco public bank, securing funding to bring back San Francisco Police Department traffic company training (to boost traffic safety and ticketing) with Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, and overseeing a relatively smooth budget process as chair of the Budget and Finance Committee.
Fewer said she still hasn’t made a final decision on running next November, or not. She expects to do so within the next month. The deadline for a candidate to file is June 9, according to the Department of Elections.
Delagnes told me he would support any opposition to Fewer — or Chan. In the meantime, he’ll continue trying to raise money from officers to oppose Fewer.
“The people that instituted the recall came to me and asked if I would help them get ahold of law enforcement officers interested in donating and supporting the recall,” he told me. And if Chan runs instead, Delagnes said Fewer’s opponent in 2016, Marjan Philhour, would be “a great candidate … she absolutely gets it.”
Philhour currently serves as senior advisor to Mayor London Breed.
Either way, Fewer isn’t too concerned.
“I beat the POA in 2016, I have no doubt I’d beat them again in 2020,” she said.
On Guard prints the news and raises hell each week. Email Fitz at email@example.com, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @FitztheReporter, and Facebook at facebook.com/FitztheReporter.