SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin Tuesday called for a hearing and vote to take place next week on the appointment of an interim mayor following the death of Mayor Ed Lee, setting up a potential push for a “caretaker” mayor who is not running for office.
The hearing, which Peskin has requested take place on Jan. 16, sets up a potential challenge to London Breed, who is currently serving as both president of the Board of Supervisors and acting mayor, and who has also announced her intention to run for mayor in a June election.
As board president, Breed automatically became acting mayor following the unexpected death of Lee by heart attack on Dec. 12.
The city attorney’s office has said that under the terms of the city charter, Breed can continue to hold both her board seat and the position of acting mayor unless and until the board appoints an interim mayor.
However, the dual role has led to concerns that Breed, as both mayor and president of the board, will have undue power over the city’s budget and other policy decisions.
In addition, it has led to protests from those who feel she will gain an unfair incumbency advantage in the June 5 mayoral election called in the wake of Lee’s death. Breed has filed papers to run, as have Supervisor Jane Kim, former state Senator Mark Leno, former Supervisor Angela Alioto and others.
Members of one group, the recently formed San Francisco Progressive Alliance, rallied today outside City Hall to call for the appointment of a “caretaker” interim mayor.
Breed’s position as acting mayor gives her an unfair advantage in the upcoming election and violates the “values of democracy and fairness,” said Claire Lau, interim co-chair for the group.
“The whole point of our structure of government is to have a balance of powers,” Lau said. “It is undemocratic to continue having one person hold both branches of power.”
In order to unseat her, six members of the board would need to agree on a replacement. Board members cannot vote for themselves.
Peskin said he did not know how board members would vote, but argued that it was the board’s “duty” to have a conversation on the subject and allow the public to weigh in.
“I am one member of this body who has said that while the charter allows the president of the board to also serve as the mayor, I don’t think we should have a mixing of the two branches of government for a prolonged period of time,” Peskin said.
The last time the board attempted to appoint a “caretaker” mayor, it appointed then-City Administrator Ed Lee, who initially promised not to run for election. However, he later changed his mind and ran for re-election as an incumbent.
In this case, the filing deadline for the mayoral election closes at 5 p.m. Tuesday, and the board would be able to make an appointment, if it chooses to do so, while already knowing whether a candidate planned to run.
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