Mayor Ed Lee may soon find himself once again wielding his appointment power and impacting San Francisco’s elected offices.
In November, Lee first appointed District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague after former Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi won as sheriff. Lee then appointed Vicki Hennessy to sheriff after suspending on official misconduct charges Mirkarimi, who is fighting to prevent his permanent ouster.
Now Lee could find himself in a position where he would appoint two more people to elected posts — before the voters have a say.
Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting is running for the California Assembly to represent District 19 (formerly District 12) to fill the seat currently held by Fiona Ma, who is being termed out. There is a primary in June and the runoff in November. If Ting wins in November — he is considered the front-runner in a small pool of candidates — then Lee will have to appoint someone to the $174,000 assessor-recorder post.
There’s talk that District 4 Supervisor Carmen Chu, who is serving her final term in office, is one of the most logical choices.
What does Chu, who is termed out in 2015, think about all this? “Never say never,” Chu said. “At the same time, it’s far off in my mind. We just got a lot of stuff on our plate.”
Political consultant David Latterman said Chu would be a good choice.
“I’ve heard her name come up. She’s pretty well-respected in The City. She clearly knows her numbers. Though she’s considered a moderate, she’s not controversial.”
If Lee does appoint her to the post, then he would also have to appoint someone to the District 4 seat, which represents much of the Sunset neighborhood.
Latterman said mayors like to try to put as many political allies as they can in seats of power. In other words, why go for one when you can have two? With the power of incumbency, both appointees would be all but guaranteed a victory when election for the offices came up.
Several notable San Francisco politicians were appointed to prominent positions:
Gavin Newsom: Board of Supervisors in 1997
Michela Alioto-Pier: Board of Supervisors in 2003 by Newsom when he became mayor
Phil Ting: Assessor-recorder in 2005
Carmen Chu: Board of Supervisors by Newsom in 2007 after former Supervisor Ed Jew resigned
George Gascón: District attorney in January 2011 after Kamala Harris won as state attorney general
Ed Lee: Mayor appointment by Newsom in 2011 after Newsom won as lieutenant governor