Supervisor David Chiu, a key player in the city’s sustainable transportation movement who gets around on his electric bicycle, was reelected president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors this afternoon on an 8-3 vote. The 40-year-old District 3 supervisor called on his colleagues to “move beyond the past oppositional politics of personality” and build consensus to tackle some of the city’s most pressing problems.
“None of us were voted into office to take positions. We were voted into office to get things done. We were voted into office to create jobs, to make sure Muni runs on time, to make sure our streets are safe and clean and to make sure…that the least fortunate among us is taken care of,” said Chiu, referring to past positions supervisors have taken against the Mayor or other supervisors.
The vote to reelect Chiu came after four new members elected to the board — Jane Kim, Malia Cohen, Scott Wiener and Mark Farrell — were sworn into office along with Supervisor Carmen Chu, who ran unopposed for her District 4 seat.
In the first round of voting for president, Chiu, who was nominated by Kim, and Supervisor Sean Elsbernd (nominated by Chu) both got four votes each with Supervisor John Avalos (nominated by Supervisor David Campos) garnering three. All three supervisors were allowed to vote for themselves.
After the initial vote, Elsbernd stood up and noted how multiple rounds of voting can result in long-term elements of discord and distrust, and decided to withdraw his name “in the spirit of moving this meeting forward.” On the second round, Chiu’s nomination got the support of every new member, along with Supervisors Eric Mar, Chu and Elsbernd. Avalos was supported by Campos and Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi.
Chiu is widely rumored to be exploring a run for mayor. Just yesterday, it was publicly unclear whether he had enough votes to remain board president. Earlier this week, he was blasted by now former Supervisor Chris Daly, who pledged to “politically haunt” the former prosecutor and civil rights attorney after he announced his support of City Administrator Ed Lee for interim mayor with the eventual backing of six other supervisors.
Daly, along with Campos, Avalos, and Mirkirimi, said they didn’t so much have an issue with Lee, who is often praised as an efficient public servant, as they did the back room politics in which he was chosen, even though his name has been circulating for awhile. At their continued board meeting yesterday, tensions had simmered and Campos, Avalos and Mirkarimi were part of the 10-1 vote to nominate Lee as successor mayor, with Daly casting the lone dissent.
Lee, who has more than two decades of experience in city government and as managing attorney of the Asian Law Caucus took on tenant, employment discrimination and workers rights cases, is set to become San Francisco’s first Asian American mayor. The Board of Supervisors is expected to ratify his nomination Tuesday.
Chiu, who recently championed a citywide bicycle mode share goal of 20 percent by 2020, has been an ally of transit advocates and was endorsed by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition when he ran for office in 2008.
“President David Chiu is an everyday bike commuter and has been a leader in transportation over the last two years in office and I’m very happy to continue to see him as board president,” said Marc Caswell, the program manager at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, who was at City Hall for today’s meeting.
Earlier this week, Chiu’s aide, Judson True, said that he would work with Lee’s administration to pursue Transit First policies. While it remains unclear what Lee’s transportation priorities would be as mayor, several City Hall insiders have told Streetsblog that he does ride a bicycle but his dominant mode is reportedly a Toyota Camry. Those same people pointed out that he understands streets management as a former DPW director and would likely look at the issues from a transit justice perspective.
Until today, Chiu was the only car-free member of the Board of Supervisors. Cohen, who replaced Sophie Maxwell today as District 10 supervisor, currently doesn’t own a car. When asked by Streetsblog whether she planned to remain car-free, she replied: “Are you kidding? Not until we get better transportation. It’s hard to get from the southeast into the city. I’ve been late every single day.”
Cohen did say sustainability is a priority for her and she supports Connecting the City, the SFBC’s bold vision for the future of bicycling in San Francisco, and would specifically like to improve conditions for bicyclists on 3rd Street in her district.