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There is a lot of speculation out there about who will serve as Mayor Gavin Newsom’s successor come January. The last time San Francisco faced such circumstances was in 1978, when Mayor George Moscone was killed and Dianne Feinstein, president of the Board of Supervisors at the time, served out the remainder of his term. If there is any disagreement on the rules, the city attorney’s office would typically advise on the matter.

But just to make our heads spin a little more, current City Attorney Dennis Hererra is running for mayor next year. Because of this conflict of interest, the Santa Clara Office of County Counsel has been enlisted to mediate. The Board of Supervisors can decide not to vote on a successor, in which case the board president would serve as acting mayor until November’s election. The makeup of the new board — whether it leans more progressive or more moderate — may also affect the outcome. But we’ll have to wait for results from district runoff elections to know which way the board will swing. So stay tuned — it will no doubt be a fascinating few months for San Francisco politics.

Lauren Rosenfeld

Walking in the streets of the Mission takes Lauren back to the streets of South America. Up until now, she’s known the Mission through its bars and restaurants; now it’s the buzz on Mission Street...

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2 Comments

  1. I believe your scenario is not correct– Newsom doesn’t ‘resign’ as mayor on Jan. 3– and he can’t hold onto the seat until later. On Jan. 3, at 12:01, Gavin Newsom becomes Lt. Governor, and can no longer hold the office of Mayor of SF- the State Constitution forbids a state officer from holding another office, and by default Pres. Chiu is mayor, automatically.

    1. Hi MCAS,
      Thank you for your comment. According to our sources at the Board of Supervisors and City Attorney’s office, Gavin Newsom does in fact have to resign as mayor before taking office as Lt. Governor. Although it may be unlikely that he will delay taking office as Lt. Governor, it is a possibility. At this point, Mayor Newsom’s spokesperson has not spoken specifically about the timing of the transition, but we expect details to emerge in the coming weeks. http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/ap/newsoms-win-creates-vacancy-in-sf-mayors-office-106658518.html
      There is a memo from the Santa Clara County Counsel with more information here: http://www.thesweetmelissa.com/sweet_melissa/2010/11/legal-opinion-says-the-current-board-can-pick-the-interim-mayor-here-we-go.html?cid=6a00d83514497653ef0133f598d948970b

      Best,
      Lauren Rosenfeld

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