San Francisco has become the first major city in the country to allow non-citizens to serve on commissions and advisory boards.
The historic win comes as 54 percent of the voters approved Proposition C. The measure allows any person, regardless of their citizenship, to be appointed to city advisory boards and commissions, such as the art, police and health commissions that form policy, craft budgets and hold hearings.
Yes on C co-chair Sarah Souza, who is an aide for recently re-elected District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin and a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient, heard the news of a projected win at District 7 Supervisor-elect Myrna Melgar’s election party Tuesday night.
“I am so happy,” Souza said. “Our vision is to continue the work and provide accessible training on how to get appointed commissions, and to build a pipeline of leaders and really incentivize San Franciscans to get involved in their local government, which is so critical in transforming our democracy.”
Weeks before the result was announced, the measure’s supporters began gathering names of people who were potentially interested in serving on a city body in the future; Souza said about 500 people visited their site to learn more. Souza has her eyes on the Immigrant Rights Commission or Human Rights Commission.
Although Proposition C invites the possibility for more civic engagement from non-citizens, it is not a guarantee that they will be appointed. Current rules regarding Board of Supervisors approval for commissioners and board members still apply.
Getting appointed is not always an easy battle: Just recently, several of Mayor London Breed’s nominees have been turned down for both the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors and the Police Commission.
Still, Souza and advocates for Proposition C have viewed it as a pathway for more diverse political representation. In 2009, about 46 percent of all city appointees identified as people of color; in 2015 that peaked at 57 percent; then in 2019, it dropped down to 50 percent. People of color, however, make up about 62 percent of San Francisco’s population.
“We can/must make progress again,” the Proposition C campaign site stated.
Read our earlier coverage on Proposition C.
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