Political Notebook: Community leaders praise Sheehy pick for D8 supe seat
by Matthew S. Bajko
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee's decision to name AIDS advocate Jeff Sheehy as the new District 8 supervisor, making him the first person living with HIV to serve on the board, has drawn wide praise from neighborhood leaders and the city's LGBT community.
The vacancy was created by the election in November of gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco). Lee introduced Sheehy, 59, a gay married father who lives in Glen Park, at a news conference the morning of Friday, January 6 at the Noe Valley Town Square. Two days later the mayor, who also resides in District 8, officiated Sheehy's oath of office early Sunday afternoon at a community event inside City Hall's South Light Court.
"He has both huge shoes to fill and the height I tried to deal with too," joked Lee about Sheehy, who at 6 foot 3.5 inches is nearly four inches shorter than Wiener.
Monday morning Sheehy joined the winners of the odd-numbered fall supervisor races to take his oath of office a second time in the board chambers, with San Francisco Superior Court Judge Teri L. Jackson officiating, her first official act as the court's new presiding judge. He then voted with the rest of his colleagues to re-elect District 5 Supervisor London Breed the board's president, and at his first official board meeting Tuesday, Sheehy was part of the 10-1 vote calling for $9 million to fund free City College for city residents in the fall.
"I am pretty excited and looking forward to working with him," Breed told the Bay Area Reporter at the press event last week. "I have heard nothing but good things about him ... I am looking forward to having another grown-up on the board."
Breed initially had urged the mayor to appoint her chief of staff, Conor Johnston, who is gay, to the vacancy on the board. But he pulled his name from consideration and joined a number of local leaders at the press announcement to show his support for Sheehy, calling the choice "thoughtful and inspired" in a Facebook post.
"These are tumultuous times for our community and our city. I stand behind my new supervisor 100% and was proud to do so physically at his announcement this morning," wrote Johnston.
Former San Francisco AIDS Foundation senior vice president James Loduca, who had also sought the seat, called Sheehy an "inspired choice" to lead District 8, which not only covers the gay Castro district but also Duboce Triangle, Noe Valley, Diamond Heights and Glen Park.
"We couldn't ask for a better representative," Loduca, who is gay and this week joined Salesforce as its director of equality programs, told the B.A.R.
Gary McCoy, a gay man who is HIV-positive and worked as a former supervisorial aide at City Hall, told the B.A.R. he is excited to see someone living with HIV serve on the board.
"I think in terms of being an advocate and putting himself out there certainly helps folks who may not be open about their status," said McCoy. "I think it is the right time, especially with the new federal administration."
While well known in the health field due to his work on AIDS issues and membership on the board of the state's stem cell institute, Sheehy also has political experience due to his time as president of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club in the late 1990s and as a member of the local Democratic County Central Committee.
Lesbian former state Senator Carole Migden , herself a former supervisor, attended Sunday's swearing in ceremony and praised Sheehy's appointment in a brief interview with the B.A.R.
"He's a good guy," she said of Sheehy. "I worked with him and the late Jeff Getty on a couple of very strong and precedent-setting HIV bills."
One was a law allowing UCSF, where Sheehy worked as the longtime spokesman of its AIDS Research Institute, to establish an HIV organ transplant center.
"There was great resistance," Migden recalled.
Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom , who appointed Sheehy his adviser on HIV policy when he served as mayor of San Francisco, was also effusive about the new supervisor in his remarks at the ceremony, calling him "an enlightened choice for District 8 supervisor."
Newsom suggested that "remarkable things" happen at the local level, "an antidote in some ways" to what's going on at the national level. In Sheehy, Newsom said, the city has a supervisor "who gets it and gets it done."
"He's committed to things he cares about," Newsom added. "We have a committed public servant."
Diane Jones, a retired HIV/AIDS nurse, first met Sheehy in 1997 when he was lying on a gurney at San Francisco General Hospital "and he greeted me with a rant about the ineptitude of our hospital."
"We shared a moment together," said Jones, who is the longtime partner of Roma Guy, a former city health commissioner.
Referring to a San Francisco Chronicle story last Saturday that referred to Sheehy as a "bulldog," Jones said, "I know you as fierce and passionate."
Not everyone was pleased with the mayor's decision. Gay former District 9 Supervisor David Campos criticized Sheehy's demeanor in a tweet he sent out Friday.
"Thank you Mr. Mayor! Such a divisive toxic choice is a big plus for progressives," wrote Campos, who was termed off the board over the weekend.
It prompted gay mayoral aide Tony Winnicker to respond in his own tweet to Campos that he was being "toxic and divisive and bitter to the last. Your 15 minutes are done. #byefelicia."
Cynthia Laird contributed to this story.
Web Extra: For more queer political news, be sure to check http://www.ebar.com Monday mornings at noon for Political Notes, the notebook's online companion. This week's column reported on Ignite's efforts to recruit young women to run for elected office.
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