Questions about the legality of Mayor Gavin Newsom postponing his swearing-in as lieutenant governor persist as the current Board of Supervisors has its last chance to select a replacement today.
Newsom was in line to take office Monday with the rest of the elected state officials, but he postponed his start date in order to finish up business as mayor and influence the appointment of his successor.
The delay prompted criticism from progressive supervisors, who blocked seven of Newsom’s 10 appointments to city commissions at a Rules Committee meeting Monday.
"I am taken aback [that] we are asked to approve these appointments and we are not allowed to make an interim-mayor appointment. ... The spirit of the constitution is absolutely clear that Jan. 3 is the day to be sworn in as lieutenant governor," Supervisor John Avalos said.
The mayor’s refusal to step down means that in all likelihood the current board will not be able to name an interim to serve the final year of Newsom’s term. It takes six votes to appoint someone interim mayor and an appointment is legally binding only if there is a vacancy. He argues that his seat is filled until he is officially sworn in as lieutenant governor.
But Supervisor David Campos and others question whether there is a vacancy even if Newsom stalls. Campos said he wants the board to vote on an interim mayor today — and should questions arise about who is mayor, let the legal experts decide.
"We need to act quickly," Campos said. "We need to do it [today]."
Newsom’s spokesman, Tony Winnicker, dismissed any legal concerns.
"There is clear legal precedent for this. [Newsom] is mayor until he resigns. There is no constitutional question here," Winnicker said.
He said supervisors’ "antics and shenanigans" Monday suggest the current board is incapable of making a responsible interim-mayor selection.
"I don’t want to see a politician get into this office," Newsom said during a recent editorial board meeting with The San Francisco Examiner. "Anyone who takes this position from Day 1 needs to say, ‘I will not be running for election.’" The interim mayor will serve the remainder of Newsom’s term, about one year.