Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, pictured here in her role as Budget Committee chair. Photo by Lola M. Chavez

Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer has confirmed to Mission Local that she will not run for a second term — a disclosure she had confided to colleagues and community members some months ago but had remained opaque on publicly. 

“News just in — from like a year ago,” grumbled Supervisor Aaron Peskin. “And in that intervening year, Sandy has never wavered. I have begged. I have cajoled. All of my usual tactics.” 

Fewer, who represents District 1 in the Richmond, says it has been an “honor” to serve on the board – but describes the job as “very toxic,” “soul-damaging,” and “time-consuming.” With her 63rd birthday coming in March, she says “There are personal goals and personal things I want to do in my life, and this job is not allowing me time to do those things.” 

Fewer, elected in 2016, says she knew relatively early on that “the politics of this job are not a good fit for me.” 

San Francisco can be a bare-knuckled political town, and Fewer clearly did not relish the personal and political machinations that other colleagues thrive on. 

“I have never been on a board like this that is so demanding,” she said. “And so dangerous to personal happiness.” 

These are sentiments that were shared with Fewer’s work colleagues long ago: “It has been many, many months that she’s been telling me she did not want to do this again,” said Supervisor Rafael Mandelman. Added Board President Norman Yee, who served alongside Fewer on the Board of Education, “I’ve known her three other times when she had to decide this. I know to wait for her decision. But by the time we were ready to take our Summer break, especially when we got back after August, it felt like she was more committed to not run.” 

Last month, Mission Local obtained a June 2018 email written by former Police Officers Association president Gary Delagnes, then a consultant for the union. In it, he bemoaned Fewer’s voting performance and her police budgeting decisions, and threatened to embarrass her by releasing the confidential discipline records of her husband, retired Sgt. John Fewer. 

Election night, 2019: “I got just one thing to say: Fuck the POA,” says Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer. For good measure, she adds, “This is what happens when we throw the fuck down.” Photo by Julian Mark.

This never came to pass, but Fewer characterized it as one of the low points in a job that was clearly grinding at her: “It takes a huge toll on you.” In November, she made national news by leading a chant of “Fuck the POA” at Chesa Boudin’s election-night gathering. 

The POA had directed some $700,000 into attack ads targeting Boudin, inadvertently galvanizing his supporters — so this was not an unpopular refrain on that night. But, Fewer later acknowledged, her own situation did factor in. 

Backlash forced the supervisor to clarify that her statement was targeting the union and not working officers — and inspired a group of Richmond District residents to file papers for a recall election. 

As of Dec. 31, that group had raised $0. Counter-intuitively, this recall attempt, not unlike the POA’s ads, almost backfired. 

“The only time I have seen her waver significantly [on not running] was when that recall happened,” said Mandelman of Fewer. “She was momentarily excited about running again and beating them.” 

Fewer said this was true. 

“I had decided not to run, but after the POA and the recall, man, there was a moment, a real moment, where I thought I should run — Like, fuck it, I want to win,” she said. “I know I can beat them. I’ll show them. But then I’d have to be in this job four more years. I know what this job is. So I had to step back with a moment of clarity and say it’s not worth it.”

While Fewer’s allies on the second floor of City Hall knew she wasn’t running again, she was less forthcoming in the press. Amid speculation, she told the Chronicle in October that she was “90 percent sure” she’d run for re-election. This was, clearly, not the message being imparted privately. 

“It was sort of a political answer,” she says now. “I wasn’t ready to be 100 percent truthful to my allies and supporters and friends.”

And, as such, adversarial forces hoping to assume her place can only now begin raising dollars, seeking endorsements, and getting the ball rolling. 

“That’s how the game is played, I guess,” said Fewer. “I don’t think I should be the big factor of whether people run or not. If they want to run, they should run; people should run because they believe they can do the best job possible. 

“There should be ample time for people to run so the neighborhood gets to know who’s running.” 

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Managing Editor/Columnist. Joe was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left.

“Your humble narrator” was a writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015, and a senior editor at San Francisco Magazine from 2015 to 2017. You may also have read his work in the Guardian (U.S. and U.K.); San Francisco Public Press; San Francisco Chronicle; San Francisco Examiner; Dallas Morning News; and elsewhere.

He resides in the Excelsior with his wife and three (!) kids, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

The Northern California branch of the Society of Professional Journalists named Eskenazi the 2019 Journalist of the Year.

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  1. Well, she has a lot of speculative profits from real estate flipping to enjoy, so who needs the Board of Supervisors.

  2. It’s undoubtedly a tough job that reveal’s a person true character, and Sup. Fewer’s character did come out crystal clear.

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