When Aaron Peskin will assume the Board of Supervisors seat he won in the November election remains up to Mayor Ed Lee — and timing may be everything.
With a number of large-scale projects expected before the board next week — the appeal of the Warriors Arena in Mission Bay or the controversial new $380 million jail project, for example — Peskin could be serving on the board and taking votes on those and other issues.
The political importance of Peskin sitting on the board for such pivotal projects is clear: He gives the progressive faction a majority with six votes to the moderates’ five votes. But when the power shift occurs all depends on when the mayor signs the certification of the election results.
Today, the Board of Supervisors is expected to vote to approve the certification of the November election results, which are submitted by the Department of Elections. Once approved by the board, the mayor has 10 days to sign it.
As soon as he signs the certified results, Peskin could take over the District 3 seat from Julie Christensen, the mayor’s appointee. Peskin triumphed in last month’s election with 52 percent of the vote over Christensen’s 43 percent.
Since in office, the mayor has signed the election results of the past six elections anywhere from the day after board approval, to up to eight days. In two cases, he took one day, while in two other cases he took three days. In the remaining two cases, it took Lee eight days after the board’s approval.
Supervisor John Avalos, a Peskin ally, said Monday that “no one expects the mayor to approve the will of the voters right away.”
“I expect more that he’s trying to rush the voting on legislation before Peskin gets sworn in,” Avalos said, noting “jail rebuild, Warriors, TSF [transportation sustainability fee or transit fee], etc.” as issues coming before the board.
Peskin’s campaign manager Sunny Angulo on Monday said Peskin is in Nepal, a location he has visited in the past, and plans to return the morning of Dec. 8. He left for Nepal just days after the Nov. 3 election. Before Peskin left, he said he expected to begin serving on Dec. 8. Peskin was unavailable for comment Monday.
“Aaron is excited to get to work,” Angulo said. “If he’s able to participate and weigh in at the meeting on the eighth, great. If it’s the 15th, he’ll be ready then, too.”
Supervisor Scott Wiener remained neutral on the topic. “I’m not going to tell the mayor when he should sign. It is the mayor’s prerogative under the charter. He will sign it whenever he is ready to sign it.”
Wiener rejected the suggestion projects are being timed to get through the legislative process before the board makeup changes with Peskin.
“The timing of the signing and the swearing in should not be connected to whether it’s going to alter the outcome of a particular vote,” Wiener said. “I think that would be inappropriate, going both ways.”
Wiener added that he didn’t think that any outcomes of the three issues named by Avalos would be impacted by Peskin’s presence on the board next week, adding that at least some components of the jail proposal would require a second vote Dec. 15.
If the mayor waits the full 10 days or until the day after the Dec. 8 meeting, the first meeting Peskin would serve on would be Dec. 15. Although, arguably it would be more challenging to alter the second vote, if that was his desire. “I know some people like to look for conspiracies. There is no conspiracy here,” Wiener said. He also added, “Aaron is going to be our new colleague, and we welcome him to the board.”
But the question remains when that welcome would be extended officially.
“The mayor will review and sign the certified election results when they get to his desk as he routinely does for every election cycle,” said mayoral spokeswoman Christine Falvey.
Peskin supporter and District 3 resident Jon Golinger, who took out papers Monday to run for a seat on the Democratic County Central Committee, said the mayor should sign the results straightaway. “What about what the people of District 3 want? That’s what it is about,” Golinger said.
“The voters in the district have chosen loudly and clearly,” Golinger added. “If the mayor wants to play games to start off, I think that’s a very bad foot to start off on for the new board and the new year.”