Campaign manager quits Newsom’s staff 

The shake-up within Mayor Gavin Newsom’s inner circle of advisers continued Wednesday with the unexpected resignation of his re-election campaign manager one month after the chief of staff also left his post.

Alex Tourk, 35, who had worked on Newsom’s first campaign for mayor and later became a member of the cabinet, said in a statement that he was leaving the re-election campaign for "personal reasons."

"It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the Newsom campaigns and the city of San Francisco and its residents," Tourk said in a statement.

Until August, when he left his city post to head up Newsom’s November re-election campaign, Tourk was Newsom’s deputy chief of staff. He is widely credited for launching Project Homeless Connect, a program of daylong events that provide a one-stop shop for homeless people to receive city services and privately donated goods.

In recent months, Newsom has been dealt several significant setbacks, including an announcement by the San Francisco 49ers that they plan to move to Santa Clara, the subsequent loss of a potential bid for the 2016 Olympics, a November election that leaned in favor of his progressive critics, and highly publicized battles with the Board of Supervisors over foot patrol legislation and the mayor refusing to show up once a month for legislative meetings.

Additionally, in December, the mayor also lost his budget director, Noelle Simmons, who asked for a transfer to The City’s Human Services Agency.

Newsom had glowing words for Tourk, and said it was with "great sadness" that he accepted his campaign manager’s resignation. Tourk’s wife, Ruby, had previously worked as Newsom’s assistant.

"He has been an extraordinary leader of our campaigns and a tireless public servant," Newsom said in a press statement. "He was instrumental in my first election, organizing a strong early re-election effort and shaping successful policy during his service with the city and county of San Francisco."

Newsom’s words were reminiscent of his heavy-hearted response to news in December from his chief of staff, Steve Kawa, who said he was leaving to spend more time with his spouse and their children.

Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who has known Tourk for nearly a decade, said he was surprised by the news, because he had spoken to Tourk just a few days ago and Tourk had been enthusiastically talking about Newsom’s re-election campaign, which is gearing up.

"He was really proud of the campaign team he’s been assembling," said Dufty, who called Tourk "caring and attentive."

The changes come as the mayor moves into an election year, and Tourk leaves "big shoes to fill," according to Newsom’s campaign consultant Eric Jaye. "Other people will be stepping up to make sure this does not affect the campaign."

beslinger@examiner.com

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