The election of Board of Supervisors President David Chiu to the state Assembly has set in motion some intriguing politically charged events in San Francisco.
On Dec. 1, Chiu will be sworn into his Assembly District 17 seat as successor to Tom Ammiano, leaving the Board of Supervisors without a president and without a District 3 supervisor. Chiu has served as the supervisor representing North Beach and Chinatown since he was sworn in to office in January 2009 and has been the board's president since then.
With the vacant positions, the board, which doesn't have a meeting on Dec. 2, will likely vote on who should take over as interim president at its Dec. 9 meeting. And the vote will likely be taken by 10 members.
Mayor Ed Lee is tasked with appointing a board member to serve the remainder of Chiu's term. If the mayor waits until Jan. 9, the appointee would have the opportunity to potentially serve for 10 years, not a mere six, which is what some involved in politics say is Lee's intention. Some observers say there's a good chance the mayor plans to appoint Cindy Wu, current chair of the Planning Commission and community planner with the Chinatown Community Development Center, a nonprofit housing provider, to fill the District 3 seat.
If the board appoints an interim president next month, then it would have to vote again on the position on Jan. 8, under the City Charter. But the board could potentially delay the decision until Jan. 9 to wait for the mayor's appointee to vote with the full 11 board members. That means whomever is potentially named interim board president in December may not be a shoo-in for the two-year board presidency term.
Names floated for who is in the running for board president include supervisors Jane Kim, Mark Farrell, London Breed and Katy Tang.
Farrell, of the more moderate bloc on the board, endorsed the progressive District 9 Supervisor David Campos in his unsuccessful battle against Chiu in the Assembly race. When asked to respond to suggestions he endorsed Campos in hopes of gaining Campos' vote for board president, Farrell said that is “untrue.” “I think any discussion is premature at this point,” he said of the vote.
Supervisor Eric Mar said Friday he is still mulling over the decision.
“I am likely to support someone with progressive community organizing and advocacy experience, who is fair with all 11 of us, and able to unify the sometimes fractured board,” Mar said.
While it remains unclear who will ultimately prevail, one thing is clear: the stakes. Some have said that the board president is the second-most powerful political position in San Francisco, behind the mayor.