The progressive influence on the Board of Supervisors could continue to wane with Mayor Ed Lee’s appointment of someone to fill the District 5 seat being vacated by Ross Mirkarimi, who was chosen to be San Francisco’s next sheriff in last week’s election.
The political dynamics on the 11-member board shifted toward moderate with the November 2010 election and Supervisor David Chiu’s subsequent realignment with the moderate bloc to remain as board president. That ended the board’s progressive majority, which rose to power in 2000.
Whomever Lee appoints will face an election in November. Mirkarimi, a former Green Party member who recently turned Democrat, has long been a core progressive on the Board of Supervisors, voting along party lines with other left-leaning members such as supervisors John Avalos, Eric Mar and David Campos.
“Ross Mirkarimi has been a stalwart member of the progressive bloc since his election to the board seven years ago,” lobbyist Alex Clemens said. “Mayor Lee’s opportunity to appoint a new D-5 supervisor — undoubtedly someone more identified with a moderate agenda — will change the political dynamics of the board, and The City’s politics as a whole.”
For Lee, the challenge is not only picking someone he wants to fill the seat, but someone who can be re-elected to the left-leaning district, which includes the Haight and Fillmore neighborhoods.
“District 5 is the most progressive district in The City,” said political analyst David Latterman. “It’s the district that elected Matt Gonzalez.”
The closer to moderate Lee’s pick is, the more difficult it will be for progressives to approve legislation or place measures on the ballot. Four existing board members are considered progressives, including Mirkarimi.
Supervisor Jane Kim can be added to the mix on certain issues.
Several names have been mentioned as possible appointees. There’s Malcolm Yeung, who, until a few months ago, served as the public policy manager at the Chinatown Community Development Center. Christine Olague, who chairs the Planning Commission, was appointed by progressives, but showed allegiance to Lee by joining the effort to encourage Lee to run for mayor. London Breed, executive director of the African American Art & Culture Complex, also has been mentioned.
Possible candidates to run for the seat include Quentin Mecke, a one-time mayoral candidate who is a spokesman for Assemblyman Tom Ammiano; and Julian Davis, president of the board of directors of the Booker T. Washington Community Service Center.