tv [untitled] July 15, 2014 3:30pm-4:01pm PDT
it would also strengthen separation of powers in san francisco, in particular between the legislative branch, that's us, the board of supervisors, and the executive branch, the mayor. it also reduces the temptation of small groups of people determining how vacancies are filled. and it would also limit the power of incumbency to those who first winnie alex. ~ win election. this would strengthen separation of powers in san francisco. in middle school we all learned about checks and balances. the separation of powers between the executive and the legislative branch. but that separation of power breaks down when there is a vacancy in the office of the mayor or on the board of supervisors. when there is a vacancy in the office of the mayor our executive branch, the board of supervisors, our legislative branch, unilaterally appoints a new mayor, an interim mayor. and then when there is a vacancy on the board of supervisors, the mayor
unilaterally appoints a member of our branch. this proposes a simple solution to [speaker not understood]. let the voters elect our electses officials in democratic special elections ~. this measure is not about any existing mayor or any existing supervisor. the most recent member of our board katy tang, supervisor katy tang, had credentials, great experience in the neighborhood, knows her way around here, is an obvious person to serve on the board of supervisors. when it came to selecting mayor ed lee for the interim mayor of 2011, i was one of the persons who voted in favor of mr. lee. my concern was at that time was the process, how a small group of people could make decisions that really should be handled by thousands of people through our electoral process. the lack of checks and balances in the important process means a small minority of people, us,
and the interests that are behind us selects who will fill vacancies in the mayor's office or on the board of supervisors. if we approve this measure, it would allow voters to decide who fills vacancy in special elections. then we move from a selection process with a small group of people to a more democratic electoral process, one where thousands more people participate in the process even in small turnout elections. that would be our special elections. here in san francisco mayoral vacancies are quite rare. only five times have they occurred since 1850, but in 2011 when the board of supervisors selected ed lee to be our interim mayor, i was very troubled by the process and how very few people had a real ability to influence that process as what would happen if we had done so in special elections. vacancies on the board of supervisors are much more common. we have had at least 23 appointees to the board of
supervisors since the 1960s. and when an appointed supervisor runs for office with the power [speaker not understood], that person almost always wins. the power of encumbancy is an advantage someone has and determines participants in what would normally be open seat elections. only one appointed supervisor lost in the district elections. [speaker not understood] creates an incentive for supervisors also to look for a new job before their term expires. a the mayor's unilateral appointment power [speaker not understood] offer supervisors positions when other vacancies occur as well. this creates a process that i think really shapes how decisions are made often behind closed doors. if we open up these processes to full vacancies and give them to the voters, we are
empowering the voters and thousands more people to determine the fate of vacancies on the board of supervisors and in the mayor's office. let's elect our elected official back. restore faith in city government and ensure voters have the ability to choose the mayor and the board of supervisors. there will be questions about the latest amendment for this measure. this amendment, the amendments [speaker not understood], i think the original version had any vacancy in any office. this is actually a measure that's between supervisors and the mayor's office. so, with the vacancy in the -- on the board of supervisors, the mayor would still have the ability to appoint an interim supervisor, but that supervisor would not be able to run -- term limited and would not be able to run in that special election. could run in future elections, but not in that special election. what is important to note is that this is pretty consistent
with what the expectation was when we voted to select ed lee for interim mayor in 2011. ed lee was not going to run for supervisor, not going to run for mayor, but it would be just an interim mayor only. the city attorney assures us having term limits is legal. it is essentially a term which already exists in san francisco. in san diego, when there is a vacancy on the city council with less than a year left in the term, the appointee cannot run in the following election. we already know an interim supervisor or interim elected official in the legislative branch who cannot run is already being done and a major other california city like san diego. in april san diego, the city councilmember was appoint today serve out the remainder of the term for kevin faulconer who is the new mayor of san francisco.
that appointee will not be running in that future election. we imagine that a legislative aide for a former supervisor or another city employee would be well suited to serve as interim supervisor. who would not be running in the special election, but there are many people who are qualified and the qualifications that you have for running for supervisor in any district are endless and there are endless number of people who could work very well to fill those positions. electionses are a great way to determine and allowing the voter to decide, a great way to determine how these vacancies get filled. ensuring legislation we paractionv to [speaker not understood] whether that person could return to another city job after that person's term is finished. supervisors currently are proceeded from seeking other city employment after the term of one year of office. i believe we can make an exception for someone who serves only 3 to 4 months in an interim supervisor capacity. we do not feel that this is
appropriate for an interim supervisor to not be able to find employment in the city after that person served his or her term. there are also questions that have been raised about public financing and election process, and we're also looking at [speaker not understood] legislation to make sure that in scaled down time frame for special election that we can put timelines in place for [speaker not understood] program, to effectively work during the short-term election. lastly, this charter amendment is about investing greater power in the hands of the voters. if you are on the [speaker not understood] measure, i hope you can still send us the ballot measure forward to the voters and let them decide whether this is the power that they would like to have, yes or no. thank you very much, colleagues. hope to have your support. >> supervisor mar. >> thank you, president chiu. thanks to supervisor avalos and the coalition to expand democracy and for good
government in this city. i'm very supportive of this. i think it's a common sense measure that would take away the power of incumbency that's used to the advantage of appointing vacancy on the board of supervisors. it's an example of tremendous mayoral power or even power on the board of supervisors. and i think this is the measure that, as supervisor avalos mentioned, would put more of an influence of voters so that the electorate could elect our elected officials as opposed to having the mayor appoint with that tremendous power and the power of incumbency our vacancies on the board of supervisors. also on the flip side is giving voters more of a, say, versus the board of supervisors selecting the interim mayor like we did several years ago. i wanted to also just add that the coalition for ethical government that's behind this as well, i think they are promoting something that would be good for the electorate and good for our communities as well. lastly, i know that this may be
challenging this body of 11, i would urge colleagues to let's let the voters decide on good government policies like this. it expands democracy and gives voters and communities more of a say in government. thank you. >> supervisor tang. >> thank you. first of all, i just want to acknowledge supervisor avalos. i think that we actually do share common goals in expanding democracy, transparency, open government. i do have a couple of questions to start with. number one is that the way i read it, the board president is filling a vacancy even temporarily and even in rare occasions that have come up in history of san francisco, they would still be allowed to run for mayor in the subsequent election. so, my question is why is that okay and how is that consistent with what the board of supervisors portion of the measure does not allow for? >> if i may, through the board, through the chair. it is a completely different
position as acting mayor, board president would be serving. the board president would have further responsibilities servesing as board president and serving as acting mayor to make sure the city can run effectively. and i believe also when it comes to having the most important or powerful oath of office in the city, serving that dual role, the person should be able to run for that office. it's more -- not just an obligation, but a responsibility that the president of the board would serve as acting mayor. it's not that that person necessarily has chosen to do it, but it's an automatic type of assignment that person would have to serve as acting mayor and member of the board of supervisors. so, to me that person should be allowed to run. when it comes to an interim supervisor that's appointed by the mayor, there isn't a dual
role that that person is playing. and, so, when it comes to that office it makes sense that we actually bring him -- provide the special election that allows that the voters to determine how that vacancy is ultimately going to be filled. but if you have the person who is appointed who is the interim and can run, the power of incumbency is great and that power of incumbency can determine who else can jump in the race or not. people can choose not to, but they look at how daunting it is when someone is -- has the power of incumbency. that can shape their determination not to do so. -- not to run. in both cases we still are offering to the voters special elections to fill a vacancy in the mayor's office and a vacancy on the board of supervisors. >> thank you. i really appreciate your answer. i still feel that it's very inconsistent [speaker not
understood]. no matter how short or long a time a president is serving in the dual role, they will have that power of incumbency should they be allow today run in a subsequent election. in any case, the other question that i do have also is that, you know, currently as written the special election that would be held to fill the vacancy where the members of the board would not be able to run, that or mayoral position on that ballot, there would not be allowed to be any other measures. it would only be those particular offices. so, my concern is that we already experience very low voter turnout [speaker not understood]. the election that i ran in, it was about 2% voter turnout, and there were four measures, local measures. there were other city-wide positions on there. there is the controversial washington prodwelt and there was a very low turnout. so, i just question whether it's really more democratic if we're only allowing for those
seats to be available on the ballot, not other measures where you're not going to be driving out other voters to be at the ballot box. ~ project >> well, i would just respond that having, give hep a low turnout special election for thousands of people who participate in the election, the supervisor or city-wide there are tens of thousands of people that will participate in the election of the mayor versus us selecting serves as interim mayor which is the current version that's in the charter. or the mayor selecting who will serve as a member of the board of supervisors. and maybe among us 11 in selecting a mayor, we might consult with hundreds of people in that process collectively. a special election would always mean that there are tens of thousands more that will take part in the process, which is much more democratic than a smaller group of people determining that a smaller group of people who are often
shaped by interests that are common to city hall, but not necessarily common to the neighborhoods that will still be represented by person who serves in the mayoral capacity. and if it comes to a mayor making a better decision about the board of supervisors, a smaller group of people then would be involved in that process, and people who may say -- not know the district as well as the -- where there is a vacancy as people from the neighborhood who will be voting for that vacancy. >> well, thank you. i do appreciate, again, your answers to the questions. i do still feel uncomfortable with the measure, mostly because i do feel that the current system does work. and i do speak from personal experience and i point to it not because i'm worried about what will happen to me, but really because i was forced to learn about what it is that our charter currently requires because of my situation. you know, currently there are
three possible deadlines for elections. and when an appointee must run in an election based on any vacancies, board of supervisors at least, i fell into one of those categories where i'm now running in my second election in two consecutive years. so, i do feel that's pretty democratic. so, people have two opportunities to challenge me. and someone did last year. back in 2004, supervisor sean elsbernd was appointed by the mayor. he had two months to run in a subsequent election, fell into a category where he had odd number of seats open that year. he had 12 opponents, okay. he had 12 opponents. he received about 10,000 votes, the next top voter was 6,000 votes. so, i think that there that election we had 74% voter turnout. so, i think, again, that speaks to the fact that, yes, you may be an incumbent, but there are people who are absolutely willing to challenge him and he
was able to sustain that. of course, we have one of our own colleagues who successfully challenged someone in the recent election 2012 when that happened, and i think that that speaks to volumes that if there is someone who works hard in the neighborhood, has established themselves, they can be successful in challenging an incumbent. so, the way that our current charter is written, especially with the 2012 when we had changed our city regulation or the charter is such that we consolidate more of the city-wide position, i do understand that now that happens every other odd year instead of more frequently than before. so, in the worst case scenario, let's just say that a supervisor is appointed mid july 2016, filling the vague sill for an even number of seats. that seat is not going to be on the ballot for november. because that of election schedule and change in 2012, the longest that an appointed
supervisor would go until an election or stay in office until election would be roughly two years, and that would only be under those kind of special circumstances where the timing is such that it doesn't allow for election until two years. so, that's that vote. but for other situations such as those that i mentioned, including myself, most of the time the supervisors or appointee would have to stand for an election pretty close to when they are appointed. i would also like to correct that in the history where we have -- we had 23 mayoral appointments to fill a board vacancy, there were actually four times that supervisors lost elections. yes, two of they have were when we switched from a district to city-wide or from city-wide back to district electionses, but there were also two situations where it was in the middle, you know, we were well into either city-wide or a district election race. when it comes to the mayoral vacancies, i do understand that they are rare in occurrence.
five out of our history of 43 mayors as was mentioned. however, as i asked earlier, i do feel it is very inconsistent we are allowing the board president who, yes, is deemed in the charter to be able to fill a temporary vacancy to also fill a run for election in the subsequent election. the other thing that i would point out is that some of the logistical things that haven't been debated very much, but i have personal experience and really want to speak to, the temporary people who are appointed to serve to fill a vacancy on the board, you know, they're going to be sitting here taking votes on actual issues here they will probably -- i'm just imagining they will probably cater a lot more to the person who appointed them in that situation because they're not [speaker not understood] to the will of the voters. they do not have to stand for an election any time soon. why would they not just vote how they think the mayor's office would want them to vote? so, i actually think that's
very dangerous because, again, from the time that they are here they're actually going to be taking votes on important issues. secondly, i would just point out that there was a study done by lafco, the study the jurisdictions. i thought that was very insightful. what it revealed to me is there is no kind of clear-cut way as to how it is we fill these vacancies. actually, the majority of the study, 63% of the jurisdictions use some other method, meaning that it's either an appointment that was done by an individual or group or outside of that. so, i think that, you know, really again, there is no sort of real consistent way for how other jurisdictions do things in terms of filling vacancies. i think that speaking to the power of incumbency, i don't think we can erase that through a charter amendment. i think that is something that exists in any democratic election system. so, i think that comes with i think any system, it's not
something we can erase from our process. the other thing is that there was an amendment where we did not -- we eliminated other city-wide offices from this charter amendment and i feel that, again, to be consistent, those are very well offices that could be open to what has been claimed to be decision making behind closed doors. i feel that those positions are just as important, so, why are we also not including them in the same kind of a category? and, so, you know, really going back to how this would all work, way lucky that i worked for a predecessor who i worked well with. grew up in the neighborhood, we got along well. when i had to take over i was able to seamlessly transition where we could communicate with our constitch wenttionv. ~ constituents. i could send out a newsletter the next month to let them know what was going on. i had all the information from neighborhood organizations i built up. what you would find is
potentially you may get an appointee in an office where that relationship does not exist. and that information turn over may not exist. and i do worry about the loss of continuity in services which i think is a very real one we're glossing over. and to say that potentially we could have legislative aides fill the vacancy role because they know the role and the duties, not all of them live in the district. and i believe that currently is written in the charter they are required to live in the district they represent. so, i don't think that's the most realistic situation for every single office. so, i mean, in short i think that, you know, when we were talking about democracy, i don't know how democratic it really is that we are trying to put a restraint on people from being able to run election if they so desire. so, all of those concerns i again want peep to truly understand what is required of our current charter system because i do think that it currently works.
>> supervisor breed. >> thank you. i want to thank supervisor tang for really touching on many of the points that i agree with. but i also want to thank supervisor avalos for bringing this forward. i think that where a lot of folks who support a different way of dealing with this situation and it's very difficult thing to try and resolve in order to make, you know, everyone happy. but ultimately it's not a perfect system that exists, but no system ever is. and i think we have two supervisors in this room right now who demonstrate that the current system works. so, when the mayor and any mayor meets with the community, listens to what they have to say, and fills a vacant seat, someone may know and support that appointee may likely get reelected.
and supervisor katy tang has actually proven that. the opposite situation when a mayor appoints someone who is not as strong and has an opportunity to run against them, with a strong campaign and [speaker not understood], clearly you can win and i think i'm proof of that. we have two walking examples of a system working where people have their say, and i'm not sure what problem we're trying to solve with changing the charter. and i think it's important to remember that the charter already gives voters the final say in this process. so, appointed supervisors by mayorxer ~ mayors by no means give the voters a pass. they will have to face 120 days or at the very next major election. mayor ed lee was pointed in 2011 by this member, not everyone was here at the time,
but every member of this board of supervisors is an elected member of the board of supervisors by a significant number of voters in the city, and he was required to run in 2011. supervisor katy tang was appointed in 2013 and required to run for election in 2013 and reelection in 2014. the voters have the opportunity to make their own decisions and i think o ~ and i don't think it's fair to say they only do what the appointing body tell them to do. they only rubber stamp incumbent appointees. we have an election that proves that. my election disproves that. i don't think it's an overwhelming advantage. during my campaign in 2012, my opponent had to make some difficult votes in this chamber, and particularly speaking she also had a full-time job here at city hall which let -- during the time that led up to the election. i, on the other hand, was able to take time off work and knock on doors and campaign.
so, there are obvious advantages to incumbency, but there are also disadvantages. we shouldn't just assume that it's a blank check. interestingly enough, though, for mayoral vacancies, the amendment does give the advantage to the incumbency to the president of the board of supervisors. even if we accept that incumbency as an overwhelming advantage, we are only taking from a point of supervisor, but not appointed mayors. so, consistency between the appointed mayor and the appointed members of the board of supervisors concerns me in this legislation. lastly, i'm not entirely comfortable with disqualifying someone for running for supervisor as this amendment would for an appointee. then supervisor mirkarimi left to [speaker not understood], some suggested i should be appointed to fill his seat. clearly we know he made a mistake.
i thought that's funny. nobody thought that was funny? [laughter] >> under this amendment if mayor lee had selected me, i would not have been able to run in 2012. so, i would have had to make a decision do i take this appointment or do i decide to run. i respect supervisor avalos's intent here and i certainly don't want to suggest that the current system is perfect, but i'm reminded of a quote by winston churchill who said, democracy is the worst form of government except for all others. and our current system is not perfect, but it's far better, far more effective and efficient than the other. so, with that unfortunately i won't be able to support this today. thank you. >> supervisor wiener. >> thank you, mr. president. i also want to acknowledge supervisor avalos's effort when bringing this forward. when you talk about what is the best way to fill a vacancy at the board of supervisors or in any other office, there are
various ways you can do it and no way is necessarily better or worse than the other. we can think of various sideways to fill a vacancy. supervisor tang mentioned there had been a review and it was probably all over the map. and, so, the question for us is not whether there is one way that's self-evident. there are reasonable ways to do it. but the system we have is somehow broken or not working so we should do something as significant as asking the voters to amend the charter. and i don't see how the system that we have is in any way broken. as other colleagues have mentioned, it is absolutely not the case that once the mayor appoints supervisors to fill a vacancy, that person is somehow permanently insulated in power.
we heard about the defeat in 2012 of the mayor v appointee. it also happened when we moved to district elections in 2000 where several appointees who had been appointed on a city-wide basis were not able to win in their districts. ~ mayor's and we heard about supervisor elsbernd. [speaker not understood]. i remember that race. and, so, it's not the case that people are permanently insulated. i will also say when you look at who -- some of the people who have been appointed to vacancies on this board, it's not like mayors are appointing problematic supervisors. we have had some really stellar supervisors. i'm not just saying that to kiss up to supervisor tang. but when you look at supervisor tang and supervisor chiu and supervisor elsbernd, back to supervisor mark leno, some
really amazing -- supervisor olague, some strong people who agree or disagree with them have been appointed to this board of supervisors. when you look at how other local governments do it that's important, but also let's take a look at how it happens on a national level. when there are vacancies in the u.s. senate, i don't know if it's in all states, but certainly in most, the governor appoints a senator to fill out at least until the next general election. we have u.s. senators, one out of 100 senators helping to run the united states of america who will serve for a year or two years in that appointed capacity, and then run again when someone loses, once they run for reelection. you can have a president of the united states who has to fill out a term who is not elected
depending how it works. i don't think it is immediately evident you have to trigger a special election to somehow serve democracy. when someone is appointed and they have to stand for election, that serves democracy and we've seen that play out. i have some specific concerns here. this would trigger a special election that would only be for one supervisorial district. that is -- it's almost inevitable that is going to be a very, very low turnout election. yes, there will be a lot of people volunteering on those campaigns because you're only going to have one thing on the ballot in one part of the city. so, we will see a lot of people converging on that district. but that's very different than having a broad voter participation in that district. and i think that unfortunately we will see very, very poor turnout in that kind of election.