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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

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UncategorizedLet's not elect our elected officials. That's what the...

Let’s not elect our elected officials. That’s what the supes said today

Sup. John Avalos could only get five votes for a basic good-government proposal
Sup. John Avalos could only get five votes for a basic good-government proposal

By Tim Redmond

JULY 15, 2014 – The supervisors rejected a plan today that would have allowed voters to fill vacancies on the Board of Supervisors and in the Mayor’s Office.

The “Let’s Elect our Elected Officials” measure went down by one vote, 5-6. The narrowest possible majority decided that it’s better to allow the mayor to appoint supervisors and supervisors to appoint a mayor.

The debate was typical for this sort of measure – the opponents were able to poke holes in it, the way you can poke holes in anything that seeks to change how vacancies are filled. As Sup. David Chiu noted, there is no perfect solution.

But in the end, Supervisors London Breed, Malia Cohen, Mark Farrell, Katy Tang, Scott Wiener, and Norman Yee said that they think the current system is okay – or at least, better than the alternative.

In fact, Breed went so far as to say “I don’t see what the problem is.”

Well: The problem is that, as far as I know, there’s no other branch of American democracy in which the chief executive chooses his or her own legislators. Presidents can’t appoint members of Congress; Governors can’t appoint state legislators.

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Congress – the House of Representatives – can choose the president if the Electoral College is deadlocked. It’s happened only twice, the last time in 1814. It’s not likely to happen again.

On the other hand, two out of the past six mayors of San Francisco have been chosen by the supervisors, including the incumbent, and at one point a majority of the Board of Supervisors was hand-picked by the mayor (a guy named Willie Brown).

There was lots of talk today about how wonderful all the appointed supervisors have been, and some have indeed been fine legislators. But doesn’t anybody remember the last board before district elections? The Willie Brown board? That was awful; there’s no other way to describe it.

And someday, with another awful mayor, we might have the same thing happen again.

Nothing against anyone who’s in office right now, but it’s hard to believe that none of the six who refused to put this on the ballot saw the problem.

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.


  1. Yeah. Back on planet earth she was opposed by Ivan Seredni but you can believe whatever you want.

    If you’d like to believe that she ran unopposed and that 80% doesn’t indicate strong voter support then be my guest.

    I personally prefer reality as opposed to making up my own world, but that is just a personal preference.

  2. Odd that Tim didn’t appear to have a problem with the Supervisors trying to appoint one of their own as Mayor when Newsom quit? Why wasn’t he arguing for an election instead?

    Of course, the progressive Supes didn’t trust each other and couldn’t agree on which one of them would be mayor, so none of them became mayor.

    So I suppose justice was done in the end.

  3. True. Most governors have the Constitutional right to unilaterally appoint U.S. Senators. (But not to the U.S. House of Representatives.) But at least governors cannot appoint legislators at the state level, where they conduct joint legislative business. They can only fill federal vacancies — a buffer of sorts.

  4. No it isn’t, Vivian, because it is only a temporary appointment, and the appointee then has to run for office like everyone else.

    It’s a non-issue and the only reason the left hates it is because they know they can never win the mayor’s race. Back when we had a progressive mayor and a more right-wing BofS, no doubt the left would have hated this idea.

    The current system is fine and holding an extra election just for one office is ridiculous. We elect a mayor because we trust his ability to make decisions like this

  5. We need to have SOMETHING against those in power. We need to stop making excuses for selling out! It is inexcusable!

  6. Yes Katy Tang was an appointee. And then promptly went before the voters who gave her an 80% victory.

    So the problem is????

    In fact, this is a good example of why we didn’t need this legislation.

    The Progressive effort to continue to seek tweaks in the electoral system to help them win is embarrassing already.

    Sad, actually.

  7. When a vacancy happens on another county’s BOS, the governor appoints someone to fill it. True, some counties have replaced that with a special elections, but a lot of counties still have the governor name a replacement. I guess what I’m saying is, it can be worse.

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