Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Online Extra: Political Notes: SF board Prez Breed plans supe committee shuffle

by Matthew S. Bajko

Payback could be swift for those supervisors who voted to oust District 5 Supervisor London Breed as acting mayor of San Francisco last Tuesday. Breed could use her power over board committee assignments to diminish the legislative oversight of those supervisors who removed her from Room 200 at City Hall.

(SF Board of Supervisors President London Breed. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

(SF Board of Supervisors President London Breed. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

The board’s five progressive members, along with more moderate District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, maneuvered to elect Mark Farrell as the city’s interim mayor. Formerly the District 2 supervisor, Farrell will serve through the special election in June that was scheduled due to the sudden death last month of former mayor Ed Lee.

His colleagues chose Farrell to be a “caretaker mayor” since he opted not to enter the mayoral race by the January 9 deadline to file. They had argued it would not be fair to keep Breed as mayor, which she automatically became upon Lee’s death due to her being board president, while she ran to be elected to the position in June.

Supporters of Breed, the first African-American woman to serve as the city’s mayor, were incensed at seeing her replaced with a conservative white venture capitalist. They castigated the board’s decision as racist and sexist. Those supportive of the move stressed it had nothing to do with Breed’s race or gender and was more about maintaining a separation of power between the board and the mayor’s office.

Now Farrell will name his replacement on the board, and the person will need to run in November for a full four-year term. Speculation last week was it could be former District 2 supervisor Michaela Alioto-Pier, who had indicated she wanted to run for her old seat this year.

The musical chairs at City Hall mean Breed will be reshuffling committee assignments among the board members. In an editorial board meeting with the Bay Area Reporter last Thursday (January 25), Breed said she would announce the new committee assignments as soon as the District 2 supervisor is sworn in.

She added she would like for that to happen at Tuesday’s board meeting, citing the same “fake arguments” used against her serving simultaneously as mayor, supervisor, and board president for why Farrell should expeditiously fill the board vacancy.

“That would be the responsible thing to do,” said Breed. “We still have work to do for the city on the board.”

When asked how she planned to work with her colleagues going forward, Breed told the B.A.R. what the city deserves is leaders who “don’t let petty politics get in the way.”

Legislative leaders, however, often use their power over committee assignments to bolster their allies and exact retribution on their political enemies. So it would not be a surprise to see those supervisors who voted for Farrell punished in the committee assignments shuffle.

Breed would not disclose what the new assignments would be for the supervisors. She did allow that she had asked District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen, one of the three supervisors to vote against naming Farrell interim mayor, to remain as chair of the powerful budget and finance committee.

And last Wednesday Breed replaced Farrell, who had chaired the land use and transportation committee, with District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai and named District 4 Supervisor Katy Tang as the new chair. Safai and Tang were the other no votes against Farrell.

As for what other assignment changes Breed makes, ones in particular to watch will be for District 7 Supervisor Norman Yee, who nominated Farrell to become interim mayor and sits on the budget committee, and District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who accused Breed of being in the pocket of “rich, white men” and chairs the public safety and neighborhood services committee.

Another one to watch is District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim, who chairs the government audit and oversight committee. While she declined a nomination to become interim mayor because she is running for the elected position, Kim voted for Farrell to serve as mayor on an interim basis. Breed is also on the committee as is District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin, considered a leader of the board’s progressive bloc.

It also remains to be seen where Sheehy, the lone gay member of the board and the first known HIV-positive supervisor, will be assigned. He currently sits on public safety and the rarely convened budget and finance federal select committee.

Last year, he did get named to the expanded five-member budget committee during the final negotiations in June. In an interview Friday, Sheehy told the B.A.R. he hoped to serve on it again this year.

“If President Breed decides the LGBT community doesn’t deserve representation on the budget and finance committee that is up to her to explain to the community while she is out campaigning,” said Sheehy.

Changes could be in store for the powerful rules committee, which Safai chairs and forwards recommended appointees to city commissions to the full board for approval. It currently has a two-person progressive majority with Yee and District 1 Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, who had put forth Kim’s name to be interim mayor.

The B.A.R. will have more on its interview with Breed in Thursday’s paper.

LGBT groups consider mayoral endorsements
The coming weeks will be busy ones for three of the city’s LGBT political groups as they will be deciding their endorsement in the special mayoral election this year. Along with Breed and Kim the two other leading candidates in the race are former supervisors Angela Alioto and Mark Leno, a gay man who went on to serve in the state Legislature.

The Gay Asian Pacific Alliance, a club mainly for gay Asian and Pacific Islander men in the Bay Area, came out with an early endorsement for Lee’s re-election bid in 2015 nearly a year prior to the election. It is unclear which candidate it will back this year.

“We are currently engaged in figuring out our endorsement process. We do plan to make an endorsement,” GAPA President Michael T. Nguyen told the B.A.R. last week.

At the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, it remains to be seen if it will line up behind Leno, who traditionally has easily secured its backing. But with his positioning himself as a progressive candidate for mayor, he may not enjoy the same support this year from the moderate political group.

Alice’s political action committee, comprised of its board members and former co-chairs, is meeting this Saturday, February 3, to vote on a mayoral endorsement recommendation. A candidate needs to secure 66 percent of the vote to win a sole endorsement recommendation, otherwise the PAC will vote on making a ranked-choice endorsement.

In San Francisco voters can rank their top three choices for mayor on their ballot. As candidates with the least votes are eliminated, their voters’ second and third choices are tabulated until a winner emerges with 50 percent plus one of the vote.

Whatever the Alice PAC decides, the club’s members will vote to uphold it or reject it at their meeting February 12. It is exceedingly rare, however, for the PAC’s decision not to be approved.

The more progressive Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club had been expected to consider its mayoral endorsement in March. But supporters of Kim put forward a motion at the club’s January meeting to instead move it up a month, to the surprise of the club’s co-presidents.

Those who supported the move argued it would protect the endorsement decision from being hijacked by candidates stacking the Milk club with new members to vote on their behalf. At Milk a candidate needs 60 percent of the vote to secure a sole endorsement from the club, and only those who joined three months prior are allowed to vote.

“We are going to have to begin the process very soon but I have faith in our leadership and our ability to run a fair process,” said Milk Co-President Carolina Morales.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBT political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @

Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail

— Cynthia Laird, January 29, 2018 @ 12:07 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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