Car-Free District 3 Supervisor David Chiu Reelected Board President

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu. Photo: Luke Thomas, ##http://www.fogcityjournal.com/wordpress/##Fog City Journal##
Board of Supervisors President David Chiu at today's meeting. Photo: Luke Thomas, ##http://www.fogcityjournal.com/wordpress/##Fog City Journal##

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.

Supervisors Mark Farrell, Scott Weiner, Jane Kim, Malia Cohen and Carmen Chu are sworn into office. Photo: Luke Thomas, ##http://www.fogcityjournal.com/wordpress/##Fog City Journal##
Supervisors Mark Farrell, Scott Wiener, Jane Kim, Malia Cohen and Carmen Chu are sworn into office. Photo: Luke Thomas, ##http://www.fogcityjournal.com/wordpress/##Fog City Journal##

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.

Although Supervisor Malia Cohen does not plan on remaining car-free, she supports sustainable transportation and the SFBC's Connecting the  City vision. Photo: Luke Thomas, ##http://www.fogcityjournal.com/wordpress/##Fog City Journal##
Although Supervisor Malia Cohen does not plan on remaining car-free, she supports sustainable transportation and the SFBC's Connecting the City vision. Photo: Luke Thomas, ##http://www.fogcityjournal.com/wordpress/##Fog City Journal##
  • I like Chiu for walking the walk. He doesn’t own a car and is a renter.

  • Alex

    Chiu is… what’s the term I’m looking for? Oh. Right. One who green washes. Sorry folks, but Dave ain’t a transit ally. He may ride a bicycle, but his shit sure stinks. As long Davey blatantly demonstrates who’s really pulling his strings, it should be blatantly noted that his puppet master is pushing forth whole hog to continue on a multi-billion dollar project that promises to suck resources out of the MTA for no gain whatsoever. Love him because he doesn’t have a car. Love him because you’ve got a hard on for anything bicycle related. But to love him for being a transit ally… as long as Rose Pak insists on being so anti-transit, you might as well love Davey for his big ol’ buddha belly and bald head.

    At least Cohen realizes how bad MUNI is, and might actually be motivated to work to improve it.

  • There were certainly some disappointments about David Chiu over the last two years. The biggest one I can think of on transportation is when he dropped support for David Campos’ Muni charter amendment and caused it to fail. Despite what one may think about Chiu’s political loyalties, I think he and the new board along with supervisors such as Jane Kim, Malia Cohen and Scott Weiner — who besides Chiu, was the only other supervisor to mention transportation in their speeches yesterday — are in a position to push a sustainable transportation agenda, which includes pedestrian safety and improving Muni. The tough part is figuring out the budget. You can bet we’ll be calling them out when they take questionable positions on transit issues but I have an open mind about this board and think transit advocates may actually get some things accomplished.

  • Nick

    If anything can be learned from the former Board, it’s that the push for sustainable transportation cannot come through nickel-and-diming car drivers.

    Notice how much easier it was to simply ban cars from Market Street rather than charge more for them to park once they’re there! That’s the key.

  • Alex

    Actually, no, political loyalties are huge. Rose Pak ain’t going to crown Chiu mayor because he’s a good independent thinker. Pak’s gonna crown him mayor because he’s good doing her bidding. Let’s not forget that the unholy Pak/Brown alliance is a huge part of what’s screwed over public transit in the first place. Let’s not forget who appointed Cruz, pushed for hundreds of millions in pork to “fix” the metro, got us some sweet unsupported East European trolleys. With those kind of alliances, what do you really expect Chiu to do?

    Chiu had a chance with Prop G. to work with Elsbernd and create some real reforms. Instead he went and tried to sell Hollywood accounting as a fix. Aside from riding a bicycle, what exactly does Chiu do to further sustainable transit? Like it or not, with costs (labor, procurement, whatever) spiraling out of control, the level of service the MTA provides is not sustainable.

  • Morton

    Supertamsf,

    How does Chui being a renter have any relevance to transportation issues?

  • @morton technically it doesn’t.

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