Mayor London Breed taps Assessor Carmen Chu to serve as City Administrator. (Joel Engardio/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Mayor London Breed taps Assessor Carmen Chu to serve as City Administrator. (Joel Engardio/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Breed taps Assessor Carmen Chu as next city administrator

Announcement follows resignation of Naomi Kelly amid corruption probe

Mayor London Breed has nominated Assessor Carmen Chu to serve as city administrator after Naomi Kelly resigned from the high-ranking post in light of allegations stemming from the FBI corruption probe into City Hall.

Chu, a former supervisor who represented the Sunset and has served as assessor since being appointed by the late Mayor Ed Lee in 2013, would serve a five-year term if confirmed by the Board of Supervisors.

“With Carmen leading the City Administrator’s office, I am confident that we will have the leadership we need to advance our recovery from COVID and move our City forward through this challenging time,” Breed said Thursday in her announcement.

Several supervisors praised the decision including Supervisor Rafael Mandelman.

“She’s a phenomenal pick,” Mandelman told the San Francisco Examiner. “She has a deep understanding of San Francisco city government from different vantage points, she is whip smart, and she has played a critical role in the City’s COVID response and planning for the recovery.”

Supervisor Gordon Mar also said he supported the nomination.

“The next City Administrator will need to work quickly to reform management practices that have enabled corruption for far too long, and meet the needs of our residents as we face unprecedented challenges,” Mar said. “I’m confident Carmen Chu is up to this task.”

Chu began working in city government in 2005 and served as former Mayor Gavin Newsom’s director of public policy and finance. Newsom later appointed her to serve as the District 4 supervisor before she was elected to the position.

In her current role, Chu is credited with eliminating a longstanding backlog of assessment cases and modernizing the department including digitizing the paper property records.

“I hope to be able to put my mark on creating a San Francisco government that works well, that earns your trust, that is delivering services that you can be proud of in San Francisco,” Chu said.

The city administrator oversees 25 city departments, including Public Works, Real Estate, Capital Planning and Purchasing.

Kelly resigned in a letter earlier this week. Her resignation, effective Feb. 1, comes after federal prosecutors charged her husband, former San Francisco Public Utilities Commision head Harlan Kelly, with fraud for allegedly accepting bribes from city contractor Walter Wong.

Naomi Kelly has not been charged with a crime.

The City Hall FBI corruption probe first resulted in charges against former Public Works head Mohammed Nuru and local restaurateur Nick Bovis in January 2020 and has since broadened to implicate other city officials and contractors, including Wong and Paul Giusti, a former government relations manager for Recology.

If Chu is confirmed, Breed will appoint her replacement as assessor. The person would serve until the next election.

This story has been updated to include additional information.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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