Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

Newsom hires gay communications director

Mayor Gavin Newsom announced today that an openly gay man will be his new communications director.

Tony Winnicker, who’s worked since 2004 as communications director for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, will start in his new job January 11. His salary will be $144,000.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to join the team and help communicate the Mayor’s agenda of reform, opportunity, and jobs” for San Francisco, he told the Bay Area Reporter in a phone interview today.

Since Newsom dropped out of the race to be California’s next governor in October, several staff members have left, including Nathan Ballard, whom Winnicker will be replacing.

Two gay Newsom staffers will leave soon. Both Alfredo Pedroza, Newsom’s liaison to Districts 9, 11 and the Latino Community, and Alex Randolph, the mayor’s liaison to District 7, 8 and the LGBT Community, will depart as of December 27 after three years working in the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services.

Winnicker, who’ll turn 39 on December 12, said that he’s not nervous about joining a team that’s in the midst of so much transition.

He said he thinks Newsom is “totally focused on his next two years as Mayor, and it’s appropriate for him … to put the team in place to fulfill his agenda and his priorities.”

Winnicker added, “There’s a tremendous amount going on in any large city’s mayor’s office and transition is natural.”

Winnicker lives in the Upper Haight. He and his partner, Alan Weisleder, have been together for three years. They’re not married.

“As a gay man, it’s a real privilege to work for someone who’s shown such leadership on marriage equality and LGBT rights, among many other issues,” said Winnicker, who will report directly to Newsom’s openly gay Chief of Staff, Steve Kawa.

Joe Arellano, who’d taken over Ballard’s duties, will continue in his position of chief deputy communications director and spokesman for Latino media. He’ll report to Winnicker.

Winnicker said that his new salary will be less than his $164,000 salary at the PUC.

“We all understand the magnitude of the budget crisis,” said Winnicker. “We all have to tighten our belts.”

Winnicker declined to say whether he’d sought the job or he’d been approached to take it.

“I’m excited to be joining the team, and I’m not going to discuss specific conversations about that …,” he said, adding that while at the PUC he’s been working closely with the Mayor and his administration, and the Board of Supervisors “for years” and they have “a strong relationship and history.”

In a statement, Newsom said, “Tony Winnicker brings years of Bay Area and national experience in strategic communications, public information and media relations to our team. His knowledge of city government and his key role in promoting major economic and environmental projects will be invaluable assets as we continue our focus on innovation, reform and creating new jobs and opportunities for San Francisco.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 11, 2009 @ 1:22 pm PST
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