Matt Gonzalez Elected President of San Francisco Board of SupervisorsGonzalez presides over the largest legislative body every headed by a U.S. Green. 'At the end of the day, people want city services, accountability and an honorable debate by elected officials who dont abuse the public process to gain ideological advantage.'
by Mike Feinstein
In a suspenseful seven round contest on January 8, Matt Gonzalezthe only Green Party member of San Franciscos 11 member Board of Supervisorswas elected Board President. San Francisco is now the largest U.S. city or county (pop. 776,000) to have its legislative body headed by a Green. But perhaps even more impressive was that it happened in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans four to one and Greens eighteen to one.
Board President is the second-most powerful political position in city government after Mayor, with the ability to set agendas, determine committee memberships, and otherwise affect legislation.
Gonzalez succeeded outgoing Board President Tom Ammiano, who stepped down after two terms. Facing off against Gonzalez were Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Sophie Maxwell, who shared seven votes between them for six rounds, while Gonzalez held onto four. With a minimum of six votes necessary to win, and with a potential stalemate looming, Peskin released his votes on the seventh round, leading to a 6-5 Gonzalez win. Board members then re-voted 11-0 in order to make it unanimous.
Gonzalez credited his election to his non-partisan commitment to openness and honesty in government. At the end of the day, people want city services, accountability and an honorable debate by elected officials who dont abuse the public process to gain ideological advantage. Illustrating this point, Gonzalez was nominated by Tony Hall, the Boards most conservative member, who said Gonzalez is a man of integrity and intelligence, who will carry out his responsibilities fairly and impartially.
Gonzalezs election marks the growing strength of San Francisco Greens, who make up 3% of the citys registered voters, three times the state average. In November 2002, Green gubernatorial candidate Peter Camejo received 15.5% of the citys vote and finished second, ahead of Republican Bill Simon. In the same election, Sarah Lipson became the first Green elected in a San Francisco citywide race, joining Marc Sanchez on the citys seven member Board of Education (Sanchez reregistered Green after being elected in 2000.)
In 2001, Gonzalez and the Greens led to victory a ballot measure to institute Instant Run-Off Voting (IRV) for city elections. IRV will be used for the first time in this Novembers mayoral electiona race in which Gonzalez may play a influential role Ð since two of the leading contenders, Tom Ammiano and Gavin Newsom, are Boardmembers and will need Gonzalezs aid to promote and pass their legislation.
Supervisor Matt Gonzalez (photo: Kara Wood)
This November Gonzalez also hopes to place on the ballot a measure for a citywide minimum wage of between $8.25 and $8.75. Facing a devastating budget deficit as high as $300 million, he also plans to continue the fight, led by San Francisco Greens and others, for public power. Public power would be the citys biggest potential new source of revenue and would make it easier for the city to pursue renewable energy while insulating it from the market manipulation by large energy corporations.
For more about Matt Gonzalez, see www.sfgov.org/site/bdsupvrs_index.asp?id=4638 and www.mattgonzalez.com
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