District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton became the next president of the Board of Supervisors Friday, securing the second most powerful City Hall post at a critical time to determine San Francisco’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Walton was elected to the board in November 2018 to represent Bayview-Hunters Point and Potrero Hill after serving for eight years as the executive director of the Young Community Developers, a nonprofit providing youth job training and affordable housing.
The Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to make Walton, who is aligned with the board’s progressive members, its president for the next two years. He was considered a favorite for the post for weeks.
Walton said it was an “honor” to serve as board president “during one of the major moments of crisis in our history.”
“This Board of Supervisors will be remembered for years to come on how we come together through this adversity,” Walton said. “Along with our mayor we must roll up our sleeves and lead San Francisco through a recovery from this pandemic.”
Walton is the first Black man to serve as the board president. Three Black women have previously served in the position including late Supervisor Doris Ward, Mayor London Breed and former Supervisor Malia Cohen.
The vote came after two of the body’s newest members, who prevailed in November’s district elections, were sworn in. Connie Chan will serve as the District 1 supervisor, replacing Sandra Lee Fewer, and Myrna Melgar as the District 7 supervisor. Melgar replaces Norman Yee, who was termed out of office and had served as the board’s previous president.
Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who herself was among the contenders to be board president two years ago, praised Walton prior to the vote as the right person “to lead us through the end of this pandemic and into recovery.”
Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents the Tenderloin and SoMa, said Walton will “stand up for our vulnerable residents, and help steer the board in a productive solutions-oriented manner.”
The board president plays an instrumental role in establishing the tone and tenor of the working relationship with the mayor.
Mayor London Breed, who has clashed with progressive board members, called for political unity to tackle the challenges ahead.
“We need to lead an economic recovery unlike any we’ve seen in a long time,” Breed said. “We have to address the behavioral health challenges on our streets, continue to help people out of homelessness.”
Breed vowed “to make great things happen for the residents.”
“If something isn’t working, let’s fix it,” she said.
Since coming into office, Walton has championed the closure of the juvenile hall center, called for increased resources to combat violence in the Bayview, which saw the most homicides of any neighborhood last year, and collaborated with Breed to redirect $120 million from the Police Department to fund needs in the Black community.
In the 2020 November election, voters passed the ballot measure he introduced to increase oversight of the Sheriff’s Department and its treatment of those in jail.
He also established the African American Reparations Advisory Committee and gained national attention for successfully passing at the board last year the CAREN Act, legislation which criminalizes racially-biased 911 calls.
Among Walton’s first duties as board president is to issue committee assignments for his colleagues, which can have a significant impact on how much influence they will have at City Hall. Some of the most important posts are chairs of the budget and land use committees.