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News + PoliticsWhat the mayor's D6 supe appointment means for the district—and the city

What the mayor’s D6 supe appointment means for the district—and the city

Matt Dorsey is smart, experienced—and seems to agree with the mayor's agenda on housing and the cops. He will face a tough battle in the fall.


Matt Haney told progressives not to worry this spring: Sure, if he left the Board of Supes, went to Sacramento and gave up his District 6 seat, the mayor would get an appointment. But he was convinced that Mayor London Breed might appoint his chief of staff, Honey Mahogany—and if she named anyone else, Mahogany would run in November and win.

That was before redistricting, which made the district more conservative. And despite Haney’s furious lobbying, Breed had no intention of appointing someone who didn’t agree with her agenda, particularly on law enforcement issues.

Photo from mattdorsey.com.

So today Breed appointed Matt Dorsey, a longtime media person who was for 14 years press secretary to City Attorney Dennis Herrera, then a lobbyist in the private sector, and then the top communications person for the cops.

Joe Eskenazi, at MissionLocal, notes:

Tapping the cops’ spokesman for political office, a career communications pro and political operative, who also recently served as a lobbyist for a firm representing tech and business titans, is a hell of a thing. … That’s a hell of a resume for the supe representing D6, which still has its fair share of struggling tenants and abject poverty, even with the TL now grafted onto District 5.

I have known Matt Dorsey for many years. He is, everyone agrees, a really nice guy. He’s smart and talented. He was an excellent press secretary for Herrera, always accessible, and someone who believed in open government.

He was also very good at making sure that his boss got good media. He took those skills to the SFPD, where he sent out missives that, honestly, amounted to attacks on the current DA, Chesa Boudin, when the police chief wanted to side with the SFPOA and try to undermine a key reform.

In her remarks introducing him today, Breed said that the main reason she appointed him was that she wanted a supporter of the police.

She said that she reached out to residents of D6 (and she inexplicably said they were “hard to find”) and the ones she talked to, including people who live in the new Mission Bay developments, “every person said at the top of their mind was public safety. People are not comfortable going out at night in the neighborhood.”

In his own comments after being sworn in, Dorsey said that he “is a believer in what good government can accomplish.” He also talked about his own history; he’s been in recovery for years, and has gone through rehab programs three times. “I believe in the full promise of recovery,” he said. “I want every San Franciscan with addiction of alcohol problems to have the same access to health care that I had.”

That’s a really important issue, and Dorsey pointed out that more people have died from opiate overdoses in the city in the past year than from Covid. “If we could prioritize one issue, getting people with addictions into treatment and recovery,” it would impact so many other issues, he said.

He’s right—and he’s going to run into a big problem right away: The city has nowhere near the resources for treatment on demand—and even if every addict or alcoholic were able to access treatment, if they can’t find stable supportive housing, it’s not going to work.

The mayor has refused to spend money that the voters approved for more affordable and supportive housing. That will be a major issue Dorsey will have to address.

And then, the cops:

“The San Francisco Police Department has a lot to be proud of,” Dorsey said. That is, at the very least, a matter of some dispute. He went further, saying that the department is severely understaffed, and that the city needs to spend more money hiring more cops.

He called himself a “reliable vote for housing,” saying, in a direct reflection of the Yimby line, that San Francisco needs to “build more housing at all levels” and criticizing “cynical use of challenges” to more housing.

I could go on, but you know that. Housing “at all levels” means allowing developers to build more market-rate units that won’t solve the problem, and ignores the reality that “all levels” aren’t going to exist without massive public investment.

I talked to Mahogany today. She’s going to run in November, and will have the support of Haney and all of his allies. She told me she opposes the recall of DA Chesa Boudin; I texted Dorsey and asked for his position, but he’s a little busy today so I haven’t heard back. I will let you know.

But the D6 race is going to be interesting. A lot of progressives supported David Campos against Haney, and I don’t know if they will all go with Mahogany. I don’t know who else might get in the race.

I do know that if D6 falls out of the progressive side, where it has been since district elections returned in 2000, Haney is going to have to explain why his own ego and desire for higher office was more important than the constituents who elected him, in good faith, to serve more than two years on the Board of Supes.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

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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