Politicized process to pick new mayor

The battle over who will succeed Gavin Newsom as mayor will come back before San Francisco’s legislative body Tuesday — but a decision is unlikely.

Now that Newsom has won a seat in statewide office as lieutenant governor, the Board of Supervisors will try to seat an interim mayor for a second time. Any selection made now would need to be renewed when Newsom actually vacates the office, which is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 3.

Aside from the unlikely prospect that a vote for an interim mayor will be held Tuesday, the 11-member Board of Supervisors will vote on whether to use a special process, drafted by the board’s clerk.

The decision to adopt the process might end up being as contentious as deciding who should serve as the interim mayor.

The board president would open a meeting by asking each supervisor to nominate one person for the temporary post, according to the draft process released late Friday.

Members of the Board of Supervisors cannot nominate themselves. And if a current supervisor is nominated, they cannot “participate in the discussion or vote on competitor nominees.”

Also, if a board member is nominated, then they “must state on the record [their] financial interest arising out of the additional compensation and benefits associated with the Office of the Mayor.”

They must leave the meeting and have no access to cell phones and similar high-tech devices.

Speculation and politicking surrounding the interim choice is reaching great heights. It takes six votes by the board to appoint an interim mayor. If the current board cannot muster the votes to select a person, then the incoming board, which has four new members and will be sworn in Jan. 8, might have the opportunity.

Supervisor Chris Daly, who is termed out of office, has argued for a decision sooner than later, and has placed on the board’s agenda a motion where supervisors could vote on an interim mayor Tuesday.

Some members of the current board, such as Supervisor Carmen Chu, said there are benefits to waiting for the new board. She said it makes sense since it would be those members who have to work with the interim mayor, not those who are termed out of office.

Daly, however, said the current board should make the decision since it has more-experienced members and there is a precedent for appointing an interim person the first meeting after a mayoral vacancy.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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