Legislative aide Cammy Blackstone talks City Hall

Anna Latino/Special to the S.F. ExaminerCammy Blackstone

Cammy Blackstone is exceptional for many reasons. She’s the voice you hear at each animal exhibit at the San Francisco Zoo, a winner of a Poddy Award for her foodie podcasts (she beat Rachael Ray!) and, as a legislative aide at the Board of Supervisors, Blackstone has worked for four supervisors — Sean Elsbernd, Michela Alioto-Pier, Carmen Chu and Katy Tang. That’s more than any aide in recent history.

Now that Blackstone is leaving the board to become the deputy director of the Entertainment Commission, I sat down with her to dish about her 5½  years in the role of an aide.

On Sean Elsbernd: “I adore Sean, but I didn’t learn very much from him at all, because he does everything. I didn’t have to brief him on anything.” And, “The only people that didn’t like Sean were mad because he doesn’t mask his feelings all that well. If someone was just going on and on talking nonsense he would just walk away.”

On Michela Alioto-Pier, for whom she worked after Elsbernd: “Michela’s office was the exact opposite of Sean’s. She encouraged us to bring her ideas, but the one I came up with was the resolution asking the Columbus Day Parade to rescind their invitation to have Tommy Lasorda as their grand marshal. I thought it was a good idea because all Giants fans hate Dodgers and Tommy Lasorda is the epitome of the Dodgers, and the fact that there are many Italians here in San Francisco. Why do we have to outsource? The whole thing ended up being a disaster. Basically for the rest of my time there, Michela had to make amends with parade organizers.”

On Carmen Chu, for whom she worked after Alioto-Pier: “Carmen is thoughtful and careful and engaged with her job in a way that some supervisors aren’t. She was very meticulous and hated it when she had to deal with some resolution about world events or whatever. … Critics would say, ‘Oh, she’s just Gavin Newsom’s pawn,’ but he never talked to her ever. Ever. I think she said he had one conversation before he appointed her. She didn’t carry his water at all.”

On Chu’s perspective: “When I would get sucked into some minor issue, Carmen would say, ‘You know what? Nobody cares.  Walk down the street in the Sunset and what’s important to them are potholes and crosswalks and getting their kids to school. They don’t care about this stuff.’”

On Katy Tang, for whom she worked after Chu: “Katy will be great. She’s not one of those people who want to use the position as a steppingstone, and want to pontificate all the time and grab headlines. She’s focused on the district.”

On David Campos: “We did have a drinking game about David Campos. You had to drink each time he mentioned that he’s a lawyer.”

On whether she’s ever been scared, as supervisors’ offices are open to the public: “When there was that issue about a medical cannabis dispensary that was going into the district, there were folks from the marijuana advocacy group Axis of Love that were really angry and upset and they would come in and scream at us all the time. I mean, some were really unbalanced. That was pretty frightening.”

On the best part of the job: “When I could help to solve people’s problems. It’s also nice to drive by a playground that you helped get renovated, or when I see parklets that we helped create.”
On who among the current Board of Supervisors would make the best mayor: “Angela Calvillo, the clerk.”

Melissa Griffin’s column runs each Thursday and Sunday. She also appears Mondays in “Mornings with Melissa” at  6:45 a.m. on KPIX (Ch. 5). Email her at mgriffin@sfexaminer.com.

Bay Area NewsDeborah MaddenLocalMelissa Griffinsean elsbernd

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