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UncategorizedMayor's District 3 appointment shows he's fully on the...

Mayor’s District 3 appointment shows he’s fully on the side of the developers and big money

Julie Christensen at her design studio. Photo from surfacework.com
Julie Christensen at her design studio. Photo from surfacework.com

By Tim Redmond

JANUARY 7, 2014 – Well, now at least we know where the mayor stands. No more consensus or compromise: The appointment of Julie Christensen to the D3 supervisor slot was a major slap in the face to Ed Lee’s traditional constituency and to the people who helped him get elected.

It shows who is calling the shots now at City Hall – Ron Conway and the tech plutocrats are fully in control.

And we know that there will be a real, serious, hard-fought contest for that district this fall, with former Sup. Aaron Peskin likely challenging Christensen for his old seat.

The appointment set off shockwaves not just in Chinatown – where the folks at the Chinatown Community Development Center, Rose Pak, and just about every other community leader I know supported Planning Commission President Cindy Wu – but also in North Beach, where Christensen supposedly has her base.

“We were actively supporting Cindy Wu and we are very disappointed,” Kathleen Dooley, president of the North Beach Merchants Association, told me.

“I’m pretty shellshocked,” said Vedica Puri, president of the Telegraph Hill Dwellers. “It’s a very surprising appointment.”

Jon Golinger, who has been active in district politics and has considered running for that seat, was less surprised. “It’s a sign that big developers and the people allied with them are confident they can impose their will on the city,” he said. “The mayor has chosen the most reliable vote for their agenda.”

Golinger said Christensen, who runs a product design firm in Dogpatch, “is smart and a hard worker.”

I called her at her Mariposa Street office today, but haven’t heard back. I imagine she’s getting a lot of calls.

Peskin told me a lot of people have contacted him to suggest he run in November, when, as a new appointment, Christensen will have to face the voters. Golinger is fine with that: “If he runs, he will have my full support.”

So the mayor has created what could be a very odd alliance. Among Lee’s Chinatown supporters, it was something of an article of faith that if David Chiu won the Assembly race, the mayor would appoint Wu. She moved into the district a year ago. Some Wu allies even helped get Chiu elected, with the assumption that the CCDC community planner would get the nod.

Now Rose Pak (who really hates being disrespected) could wind up supporting Peskin (who has fought with her over development issues like 8 Washington) for supervisor. The mayor could wind up with an ally for one year – and then a strong opponent for the rest of his term.

Christensen will be sworn in tomorrow, right as the board will be electing a new president – and that position is now almost certain to go to an ally of the mayor.

So he’ll get the short-term win – but in the long term, he’s done himself serious political damage and demonstrated that he’s gone from being a politician with a community base to one fully beholden to the big money in town.


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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.

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