Political firebrand Daly gone but not forgotten 

District 6 Supervisor Chris Daly is on his way out after 10 tumultuous years on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. - GETTY IMAGES FILE PHOTO
  • Getty Images file photo
  • District 6 Supervisor Chris Daly is on his way out after 10 tumultuous years on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

For 10 years, Supervisor Chris Daly’s fiery personality — which included a propensity to utter curse words — fueled much enmity in his political adversaries while it elevated him to a sort of folk hero among San Francisco’s downtrodden.

His style was viewed by critics as childish, disrespectful and intolerable. “[Daly] is the id of the progressive movement,” said David Latterman, a political consultant for more-moderate candidates.

However, even his critics allow that he had significant success on the Board of Supervisors, such as the Rincon Hill
high-rise developments.

Daly has served the Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods since 2000, when he and other reform-minded progressives were swept into office by an electorate fed up with then-Mayor Willie Brown.

“My biggest accomplishment as supervisor is being part of the transformation of San Francisco politics,” Daly said in a recent interview. “Before I arrived, the doors were locked. Entire segments of San Francisco were shut out. I’m really proud that I helped open the doors of people who live in residential hotels, poor people.”

Those who battled Daly hope his latest venture as co-owner of Buck Tavern at 1655 Market St. will be enlightening.

“He always thought business didn’t pay its fair share,” said Ken Cleaveland, the public affairs director for the Building Owners and Managers Association. “He’s gonna face economic reality. I think it will change him. It’ll moderate him. It will temper his radical politics.”

Daly was ultimately used by moderates and political consultants who built him up as a political caricature, a symbol of all that’s wrong with left-wing politics.

“Daly intentionally made himself an enemy of everyone who wasn’t immediately his people,” Latterman said.

In 2009, Daly was put on the defensive when he was criticized for buying a home in Fairfield, where his wife and children live. He has since divided his time between there and San Francisco.

He has said publicly that once he leaves office he does not plan to move to Fairfield full time.

“I love San Francisco. I’m committed to it. I’m planning on staying in The City. There’s a mayor’s race next year. I have been involved in every mayor’s election since 1999. I will be involved next year,” Daly said.

“We haven’t seen the last of the guy,” political consultant Jim Ross said. 

Today is Daly’s final board meeting in office. He is officially termed out when his successor, Jane Kim, is sworn in Saturday.


The quotable #@&%$! Chris Daly

“Although I will never apologize for my passion, I do regret my contribution to the lack of decorum at Friday’s meeting, and for that I apologize.”
— Handwritten note to then-Mayor Willie Brown after nearly engaging in a fistfight with the mayor when Daly and homeless advocates met with Brown in the mayor’s office.

“F--- off.”
— During a hearing on a tenants’ rights measure, Daly stepped down from the dais and cursed at a landlord advocate in the audience before leaving the room. His outburst motivated a call for his censure by Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier.

“Yeah, I’ll kiss your a--, right after I kick it.”
— To then-Supervisor Jake McGoldrick after McGoldrick did not vote for Daly’s proposed aid package for victims of a tsunami overseas.

“[Mayor Gavin Newsom] artfully dodges every question about allegations in his own cocaine use.”
— During a Board of Supervisors meeting about cuts to public health services, insinuating that the mayor uses drugs.

 “F---ing a------.”
— After introducing himself to the new police chief, George Gascón, Daly was overheard muttering those words. He later said his comment was not directed specifically at Gascón.

“For 2010, I vow to use the word ‘f---’ in each of my remaining Board of Supervisors meetings.”
— Informing the world of his New Year’s resolution via Facebook. He later reiterated it during a Board of Supervisors Rules Committee hearing.
“I will bring a white squall onto this race and I will do everything within my power to make sure that these boats never see that water.”
— During a public hearing on a proposal for The City to host the America’s Cup, after Daly objected to the cost of the initial proposal. The proposal was ultimately changed, and Daly supported the alternative.

Chris Daly’s deeds

The outgoing District 6 supervisor listed his top accomplishments at the request of The San Francisco Examiner:

  • Banned visitor fees and established uniform visitor policy for single-room occupancy hotels
  • Built a new Bessie Carmichael School and Victoria Manalo Draves Park in the South of Market neighborhood
  • Preserved 360 rent-controlled units at Trinity Plaza
  • Created a SoMa stabilization fund — in exchange for approval of building Rincon high-rises, developers agreed to pay “impact fees” to fund nonprofits to provide community services in the area
  • Opposed conversion of rental units into tenancies-in-common
  • Designated The City’s surplus properties as affordable-housing sites for the homeless
  • Passed more than 150 ordinances, almost 400 resolutions and 12 charter amendments
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