Following a day of tears and celebration, the recently sworn-in members on San Francisco’s legislative body are going to be called on in short order to make big decisions.
The new board is in an unusual position of dealing with a chief executive officer who is serving just 10 months, and assuming the office at the same time as the new board. It is dealing with a mayor that has been appointed and lacks the political tenor often established by an elected mayor. The dynamic of working with a less-powerful mayor than usual could elevate political influence of the board and the impact they have on day-to-day business such as development proposals, spending priorities and an array of policies.
In the past, the board found itself battling with the popular celebrity Mayor Gavin Newsom and his moderate political allies. But Newsom vacates his office early Monday for Sacramento. The board Tuesday is expected to officially appoint as interim mayor City Administrator Ed Lee, whom Newsom supports.
Another factor that could determine the political power of the board is the mayoral administration Lee establishes upon taking over. It remains unclear how many staff changes Lee will make to the soon-to-be former Newsom administration, or if he’ll operate it essentially as it is. And then it’s possible with Newsom’s departures some staffers will just jump ship. The mayor oversees a number of policy advisers, city managers, department heads and makes appointments to commissions.
After supervisors Scott Wiener, Jane Kim, Malia Cohen and Mark Farrell were sworn into office Saturday, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu called on them to quickly learn to work as a “team.”
“We need to figure out fast on how to do this. We have many challenges in front of us,” Chiu said. “Within very short order, we are going to have tackle a budget deficit of almost $400 million. We are going to have to figure out on how to collaborate to bring down our looming pension and health care benefits.”
The new board’s first meeting is Tuesday.