[This post has been updated.]
San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu on Friday nominated an African American lesbian and a gay man for seats on two powerful oversight bodies.
Bobbie J. Wilson was nominated for a seat on the board of appeals, while Dennis Richards was nominated for a seat on the planning commission.
The nominations are expected to be heard by the supervisors’ rules committee July 24 and go to the full board for approval July 29. They are both direct nominations by the board president, meaning that others cannot apply.
Chiu praised both nominees, noting that Richards would be the only out person on the planning commission and that Wilson became the first African American and first lesbian partner at law firms where she has worked.
Wilson is a litigation partner at Perkins Coie LLP, where she has worked since 2010, according to her resume, which was provided by Chiu’s office. Previously, she was litigation director at Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk and Rabkin. It was while she was at Howard Rice that she was selected as lead pro bono counsel by the city attorney’s office to represent the city, then-Mayor Gavin Newsom, and other officials in the marriage equality litigation.
Wilson, who lives in Bernal Heights, previously lived in the Castro and Mission neighborhoods. She moved to the city in 1990 after growing up in the Queensbridge Housing Projects in Queens, New York.
In a phone call Monday, Wilson said that her background would be a good fit for the appeals board.
“The panel deals with all sorts of complex issues,” Wilson said, adding that her legal background is in complex civil litigation.
She also said that she works well with others and has a high work ethic.
“I have, among others, represented the indigent, workers, people of color, LGBT people, and some of the most vulnerable amongst us,” she wrote in her commission application, which was provided by Chiu’s office.
She has been recognized as a “Top 100 Leading Women Lawyer” in California, a “Super Lawyer,” and “IP Star” by various publications.
The Board of Appeals is a quasi-judicial body that provides the public with a final administrative review process for appeals relating to a wide range of city determinations. Wilson will join lesbian board member Arcelia Hurtado, who serves as vice president.
If confirmed, Wilson’s term would expire in July 2018.
Wilson said that after being involved with the marriage cases, she found that she wanted to give back to the community in a different way.
“You should always give back if you can,” she added. “I spent four years on the marriage cases and I wanted to do something different.”
Richards, the longtime former president of the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association, has long been active in land use issues. He is currently a board member of DTNA, and a member of the Market Octavia Community Advisory Committee.
His past community involvement also includes a stint as president of the Friends of 1800 Market Street (1996-2002). The group formed for the historic preservation, landmarking, and rehabilitation of the historic Fallon Building at 1800 Market Street as a part of the LGBT Community Center. According to Richards’s resume, also provided by Chiu’s office, the Friends of 1800 during this time also secured city landmark status for Harvey Milk’s former camera shop on Castro Street.
Richards currently works at Salesforce. He has been a resident of San Francisco for the past 19 years.
In a brief phone call Monday, Richards said he looked forward to serving, should his nomination be approved.
“I’m humbled and incredibly excited and honored,” he said.
Chiu noted that the planning commission has not had an out LGBT member on it since Christina Olague, a bisexual woman, served several years ago. Olague stepped down from the commission after Mayor Ed Lee appointed her to the District 5 supervisor seat in 2012. She served for the rest of that year, but stepped down after losing her race for a full term.
If confirmed, Richards’s term would expire in July 2018.