Mayor Lee draws fire after asking candidates to quit city commissions 

click to enlarge “I don’t see the purpose of it, only that it is serving a political purpose for the mayor.” - — London Breed, Fire commissioner and District 5 Board of Supervisors candidate - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • “I don’t see the purpose of it, only that it is serving a political purpose for the mayor.”— London Breed, Fire commissioner and District 5 Board of Supervisors candidate

Mayor Ed Lee has asked San Franciscans who serve on city commissions to resign if they are running for seats on the Board of Supervisors this November. But not everyone is happy about it.

Fire commissioner and District 5 supervisorial candidate London Breed opposes the policy and said she believes it’s politically motivated. Breed said it’s not a “legal policy” and that she might defy Lee’s wishes.

Breed was appointed to her Fire Commission post, which ends in 2014, by former Mayor Gavin Newsom. Last January, she was passed over when the mayor appointed former Planning Commission Chairwoman Christina Olague to replace Ross Mirkarimi as District 5 supervisor. Breed, executive director of the African American Art & Culture Complex, subsequently announced that she would oppose Olague in November’s election.

Now she is in full campaign mode, hoping to beat the incumbent in a district election with ranked-choice voting — a feat never before accomplished in San Francisco. And she’s criticizing the mayor’s policy, which she believes is directed at her.

“I don’t see the purpose of it, only that it is serving a political purpose for the mayor,” Breed said Friday about Lee’s policy. “He’s using politics to be self-serving as mayor. I wouldn’t use it to be self-serving in my candidacy.”
In fact, the policy is not exactly groundbreaking. It was strictly enforced when Willie Brown was mayor, less so when Gavin Newsom was mayor. Earlier this month, Brown used his weekly column in the San Francisco Chronicle to chide Lee for failing to enforce the policy.

Lee’s spokeswoman Christine Falvey confirmed Monday that Lee has asked sitting commissioners who plan to run for the Board of Supervisors to voluntarily step aside.

“The mayor wants to make sure that commissioners can pay full attention to the commissions they serve,” Falvey said. She added that Lee “believes this is good public policy, and is optimistic that commissioners will agree.”

And indeed, two other sitting commissioners running for the board have begun to make plans to step down.

District 1 candidate David Lee resigned from his post on the Recreation and Park Commission with an official email Monday morning. Board of Appeals member Michael Garcia is running for the District 7 seat, and he said that his last day will be May 16.

“I think it’s a reasonable policy,” said Garcia, who added that there is the potential for conflicts of interest — or at least the perception of such conflicts. “I hate stepping down too, because I absolutely love the job. I’m going to be pretty sad when I say goodbye to people.”

Another District 7 Board of Supervisors candidate, F.X. Crowley, sits on the Port Commission. He could not be reached by press time.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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