Board makes little progress on replacing Newsom

November 16, 2010 7:32:42 PM PST
Governor-elect Jerry Brown's lieutenant governor will be Gavin Newsom, which leaves a big vacancy at San Francisco City Hall. Some supervisors were hoping to get some replacement candidates nominated Tuesday, but they did not have the votes to make it happen.

San Francisco supervisors are trying to agree on a process for replacing departing Newsom and it has turned into a highly politicized challenge. The only certainty is that board President David Chiu will temporarily step in, then the rest of his colleagues decide.

"You want a say in that," Supervisor-elect Scott Wiener said. "I certainly do and the people that sent me to City Hall certainly do."

Wiener is one of four newly elected supervisors who will take office Jan. 8. But by then members of the current board may have already selected someone to fill Newsom's shoes. In fact, Supervisor John Avalos had hoped to do that Tuesday. He was unsuccessful, but is still pushing to have someone in place sooner rather than later.

"I'm concerned about an abrupt change," Avalos said. "I don't think the mayor just leaving a note on his desk is sufficient a transition for the new person coming in."

If the board ignores selects an interim mayor, that person would have no power until a second vote of approval after Newsom resigns. Newsom has made it clear he wants the newly elected supervisors to have a voice, but they take office after he is scheduled to leave. Tuesday Newsom signaled there probably will not be an effort to delay his swearing in.

"I have every intention of leaving on Jan. 3; to the extent that something dramatic happens, and as a fiduciary to the city and someone who cares deeply about the city if circumstances are such that I'm forced and faced with a tough decision, I'll mark that if it comes to pass," Newsom said.

The politicians are not the only ones debating the mayoral succession dilemma. A number of San Francisco residents were at City Hall to voice their feelings on the issue.

"I think the key is not to focus just on the star power or which one person should be in office, but their experience, their core values, their vision for the city," Chris Cook said.

An interim mayor would serve for about a year.


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