cityhall3.jpgSupes Move to Speed Up Selection Process

Local political wonks and constitutional scholars alike had the first week of January circled on their calendars — when Mayor/Lieutenant Governor-elect Gavin Newsom would switch offices and the Board of Supervisors would then select his replacement — but the interim mayor hoopla could occur as early as next week, under legislation introduced Tuesday.

Supervisor John Avalos introduced motions that, if approved next week, would allow the current Board of Supervisors to nominate candidates for interim mayor Nov.16, and then allow the current Board to select an interim mayor from the slate of nominated candidates. Both motions would need six votes to carry, according to their sponsors, and the interim mayor would then need to be re-confirmed in January once Newsom moves to Sacramento.

But Board President David Chiu, openly seen as one of the candidates for interim mayor, introduced his own motion, which would leave the job of figuring out a transition process up to Board of Supervisors Clerk Angela Calvillo. Chiu’s motion, too, needs six votes to carry.

There’s also some confusion as to whether Avalos’s motion needs six votes or the supermajority of eight. City Attorney Dennis Herrera, usually the expert on City Charter matters, cannot comment because he is a mayoral candidate. The interim city attorney in Santa Clara, the counsel retained by the city for interim mayor decisions, could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

“This decision is important, and it’s important we make it early,” said Avalos, who noted that the city’s looming budget crisis means any incoming mayor needs to be prepared for the raw numbers and to collaborate with the Board. Avalos also wants the current Board to make the selection because “they’re experienced with the office and how the process works,” he said.

The idea is to have a seamless transition, Avalos said. If the Board selects a mayor in November, the interim mayor will have six weeks or so to prepare for the new office, whereas if an interim mayor is selected in January, he or she will have only three or four days to prepare.

“We want to get rid of that [January] craziness,” said Avalos, whose legislation has two co-sponsors — David Campos and Chris Daly — which means he needs only three more votes for his plan to carry. Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, a moderate mayoral ally, said he has yet to decide on what plan he likes best but called Avalos’s idea “not bad.” Which is good for Avalos.

Exactly what plan the clerk would come up with is unclear, but Chiu wants the clerk to make the decision because “it is a non-partisan office,” Chiu said.

Other tidbits to remember: a supervisor may nominate for the job any registered San Francisco voter, include him or herself, but a supervisor may not vote for him or herself. There are supervisors, like Sophie Maxwell, who prefer the idea of a “caretaker mayor,” i.e. someone who will agree not to run for the office in the November 2011 election, and double i.e. not Chiu. And if Kamala Harris should be elected Attorney General, there are some who posit that Newsom would then appoint Chiu to the District Attorney gig, thereby allowing Newsom to appoint a moderate to Chiu’s District 3 seat.

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