Newsom’s ‘polished’ appointee takes seat on board

Carmen Chu woke up Monday morning with no idea Mayor Gavin Newsom had her in mind to serve as Supervisor Ed Jew’s replacement.

One day later, Chu, a 29-year-old former deputy director of the budget in the Mayor’s Office, was sworn in and began serving her District 4 constituents before Jew’s name could be scraped off his door.

Newsom announced Chu’s appointment Tuesday morning after suspending Jew for official misconduct related to two criminal cases targeting him.

Chu, who has lived in the Sunset district for the last year and a half, will serve until Jew’s suspension is lifted or he is removed from office by the Board of Supervisors, which could be a matter of weeks or months.

Newsom — who had Chu in mind “all along,” according to his spokesman Nate Ballard — touted the “fresh perspective” she would bring to the board.

Newsom described her as “someone that is familiar not only with the district that she lives in and is a homeowner with a partnerwho happens to be a member of our fire department, but someone that understands the inner workings of city government.”

If Jew is permanently removed from office before midnight Oct. 8, Newsom will need to either reappoint Chu to the seat or appoint someone new to fill the vacancy. That appointee would serve until the presidential primary on Feb. 5, 2008.

If Jew is removed between Oct. 9 and Nov. 4, the appointee would serve until the June 3, 2008, primary election. The winner of the District 4 election would then serve out the remainder of Jew’s term, through 2010.

Supervisor Chris Daly, a Newsom foe, suggested Tuesday that the appointment of Chu was part of a temporary political maneuver in which the the mayor would then move Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting to the District 4 seat and appoint Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval to replace Ting.

That would give the mayor two presumably reliable votes on the board, bringing the number to four and ensuring it would be difficult to override mayoral vetoes.

On Tuesday, Chu said she is looking forward to learning on the job.

“I have a passion for public policy,” the Los Angeles native said. “It’s why I came to San Francisco.”

“I don’t presume to know much about District 4, but I can tell someone about the experience that I’ve had there,” she said. “I think the best we can do is go out and meet people and really try to understand the issues they are concerned with.”

Supervisor Tom Ammiano said it appeared Newsom was following “the letter of the law” in his appointment, calling Chu “polished.”

“If there’s a political agenda behind it, welcome to City Hall,” Ammiano said.

Carmen Chu

BORN: Los Angeles; worked in her parents’ restaurant growing up

AGE: 29

RESIDENCE: Homeowner in Sunset district with firefighter boyfriend; lived in district for last year and a half.

EDUCATION: B.A. in public policy, Occidental College (2003); master’s degree in public policy, UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy

CAREER: Analyst in Newsom’s budget office, 2004-06; deputy director of Newsom’s budget office, 2006-07

– Source: Mayor’s Office

dsmith@examiner.com

Each day until voters go to the polls Nov. 6, The Examiner lays odds on local figures beating Mayor Gavin Newsom. Check out our exclusive blog: San Francisco's Next Mayor?

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