While David Chiu is considered the odds-on favorite to become the first person to lead the Board of Supervisors for three straight terms, no fewer than four colleagues are jockeying to replace him as president.
Moderate Supervisors Malia Cohen and Scott Wiener and progressives David Campos and Jane Kim are all seeking the post, City Hall sources say. Progressive supervisors first elected Chiu as their president in 2009, but two years later he cut a deal with moderates to secure a subsequent term.
The board president is the face of San Francisco’s legislative branch and instrumental in key votes on large developments and major political deals. The president also selects which committees supervisors serve on, determining how they can serve their constituents and distinguish themselves. For ambitious politicians, it is a sought-after position.
Hopefuls need the votes of at least six of the 11 supervisors to win the election, which will be for a two-year term. It can take a number of rounds of voting before a supervisor emerges a victor.
Among the sitting supervisors, there are two main voting blocs, each with four solid votes. The moderates include Cohen, Wiener and their colleagues Carmen Chu and Mark Farrell. The progressives include Kim, John Avalos, Campos and Eric Mar.
Chiu is often the swing vote, which helps explain his status as the perceived front-runner.
Not surprisingly, that has all eyes on the board’s two newest members, moderate London Breed and progressive Norman Yee. Right after they are sworn in to office Jan. 8, they will be asked to cast their very first votes on this question.
On Wednesday, Breed said Chiu has “done a great job,” but she indicated that she will support Wiener as president.
“I don’t deal in ideology; I deal in respect and leadership,” Breed said. “And Scott and I may not necessarily agree on everything, but I respect him tremendously.”
With support from Breed, Wiener would still likely fall one vote shy of the board presidency. That would mean he would need to obtain a sixth vote from Chiu himself or the incoming Yee.
Unlike Breed, Yee is playing his cards closer to his chest.
“I haven’t made my decision on that,” Yee said Thursday, which was no more revealing than his statement last fall that he could support Chiu, Kim, Wiener or even himself. Yee said he would like to be “thoughtful” and make a decision after talking with contenders and learning about their political agendas.
Cohen, a moderate who is perceived to be more acceptable to progressives than Wiener, is attempting to emerge as an alternative to Chiu for both camps, sources said.