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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

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News + PoliticsSupes panel appoints three community-based progressives to redistricting panel

Supes panel appoints three community-based progressives to redistricting panel

Move will counter the Elections Commission's appointments, all of whom are allies of the mayor, in what could be a major gerrymandering fight.


The Board of Supes Rules Committee today voted to put three people with deep roots in the progressive community onto the Redistricting Task Force, offering at least some counter to the Elections Commission appointees, whom Sup. Aaron Peskin said may “have a history of partisanship.”

Which was a nice way of saying they are political allies of the mayor.

The current districts will change with census data.

The committee unanimously voted to recommend Jeremy Lee, Jose Maria (Chema) Hernandez Gil, and Michell Pierce to the task force. That recommendation goes to the full board next week, and it’s likely the three will get final approval.

The task force hasn’t received a whole lot of news media attention, but it’s going to play a key role in shaping the politics of the next decade. By law, the city has to redraw supervisorial districts after every census, and this time around, there are going to be some significant changes.

The population of San Francisco has grown by more than 80,000 people in the past ten years, most of that on the east side of town.

Michelle Pierce is one of the three supes appointees. Image from Anti-Eviction Mapping Project video.

As we noted last week, even minor changes in some of the districts could have major impacts. The Republicans who control state legislatures are moving to gerrymander things so that Democrats can’t keep a majority in Congress. The allies of the mayor could – not saying they will, but they could – try to gerrymander the districts to undermine the current progressive majority.

That, I think it’s safe to say, would greatly please Mayor London Breed, who has seen almost every candidate she backed for supervisor defeated by more progressive candidates in the last election.

The Elections Commission has already appointed three people who appear to be politically aligned with the mayor. The commission’s public oversight body recommended that Hernandez Gill, who has worked with SF Rising, be among the appointees, but he was rejected in favor of Chasel Lee, who has worked for David Chiu and, according to Ethics Commission records, has donated money to Sonja Trauss for Supervisor, Vallie Brown for Supervisor, and Suzy Loftus for District Attorney and supported London Breed for Mayor. He also backed Mary Jung, the real-estate lobbyist, for DCCC.

The Elections Commission slate was unanimous. Members appointed by the supes, the city attorney, and the public defender (as well as the appointees of the mayor, the district attorney, and the treasurer) all went along with the appointment of three candidates who have a similar political alignment.

Commissioner Viva Mogi, who was appointed by the previous DA, George Gascon, made the motion to approve the slate, which includes Ditka Reiner, who is a leading proponent of the campaign to recall the current DA, Chesa Boudin. (Gascon was recently elected DA of Los Angeles on a reform platform that is not entirely different from that of Boudin.)

The mayor will now fill the rest of the task force with her appointees. So there will be a clear majority on that panel who have political alliances counter to the current majority on the Board of Supes.

The last time we went through this, ten years ago, the task force did its best not to radically change the districts, to keep existing neighborhoods and communities intact.

We shall see what happens this time around.

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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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