The new members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors were sworn in earlier this week, and Supervisor London Breed has been confirmed for another term as board president. With the election finally over, our elected officials need to get to work governing on the issues that matter most to our city and state. It’s time to tackle homelessness, transportation, housing and quality-of-life issues while maintaining the economic growth that cut unemployment by more than 50 percent since the Great Recession. We’re excited to be a part of that process and to ensure San Francisco remains a strong and supportive place to do business.
Unfortunately, some are starting to speculate about calling a special election prior to the next election, scheduled for June 2018. The one thing we don’t need to do is dive right back into electoral politics. Elections force people into corners and drive divisions, bringing collaboration to a screeching halt. Governing without the immediacy of an election provides a greater opportunity for teamwork on seemingly intractable issues.
There have been many ideas floated about what could trigger the need for a special election, including various taxes and housing measures. But the truth is this is all about partisan politics at the Board of Supervisors. Let’s be clear: Proponents of the special election have their eyes set on forcing an earlier election for the District 8 seat on the Board of Supervisors, to which Mayor Ed Lee just appointed Jeff Sheehy last Friday. As an appointed member of the board, Supervisor Sheehy must run for a full term in the next citywide election, which currently isn’t until June 2018. However, a special election would move that date forward; thus, any special citywide election forces an election in District 8.
Creating a citywide election in order to force an election in one supervisorial district isn’t just bad politics or a distraction for our current elected body. Elections are an enormous financial drain. Forcing The City to pay millions of dollars to hold a special election for partisan reasons is a waste of taxpayer money and a waste of our civic energy and focus. It also is a direct contradiction to the will of the voters.
In 2012, more than 83 percent of voters passed Proposition D, a charter amendment supported by all 11 supervisors, which consolidated off-year elections for posts including the District Attorney, City Attorney and Assessor specifically so we wouldn’t have wasteful, low turn-out elections. Now, those elections are on the mayoral cycle and will come up again in 2019, a fiscally responsible choice as it costs a minimum of $4 million to hold an election. This was a wise decision by the voters; forcing a special election for political purposes is self-serving and wrong.
No matter how you feel about the politics surrounding the last local election, we can all agree we are glad that the endless campaigning, nasty mailers and mudslinging is over. We need to come together to collaborate in our governance, something we all know doesn’t happen during a campaign season. The unanimous re-election of Breed as board president is a step in the right direction. Let’s bring the focus back inside City Hall to solve the issues that we are all so deeply aware of as San Francisco residents, workers and business owners. Let’s put partisan politics aside and get to work.
Juliana Bunim is vice president of strategic communications at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.