SAN FRANCISCO—The new session of the Board of Supervisors began Tuesday with a surprisingly unified re-election of incumbent President David Chiu, a move that for former Board President Aaron Peskin signifies a sign of independence from a behind-the-scenes powerbroker.
To the surprise of many, Supervisor Malia Cohen from District Ten and Supervisor Jane Kim from District Six withdrew their names just before the vote at the inaugural meeting on Jan. 8. Shortly before, they each nominated each other for the job citing the need to have a female president. Cohen and Kim recently had been considered by observers to be serious challengers to Chiu, a two-term president representing District Three.
As a result, Chiu faced no contender for a re-election and the vote for the two-year position was unanimous. In contrast, at Chiu’s two previous elections for president in 2009 and 2011 several rounds were needed to reach a majority of 6 votes of the 11-member board.
According to former President of Board of Supervisor Aaron Peskin, “this is a major setback for Rose Pak and her friends.”
Pak, the de facto head of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and power broker behind the scenes, was instrumental in Mayor Ed Lee’s election campaign, the first Asian-American mayor in San Francisco. Peskin accused Pak of representing the interests of the Chinese Communist regime, while unduly influencing City Hall politics through Lee. In Aug. 2011, Peskin called Pak the “real leader of San Francisco” and Lee “a puppet.”
Peskin said Pak planned to replace Chiu with Jane Kim, a Supervisor from District 6. Pak and former Mayor Willie Brown made, “a last-minute attempt,” calling supervisors to gather enough votes, though to no avail. Pak fell out with Chiu over his own bid for mayor and his opposition to development projects in the city. This afternoon Pak left Jane Kim’s office “looking very sour,” Peskin said.
While the vote was a setback for Pak, “she still controls Lee like a dog on a leash and the mayor has all the power in San Francisco, but she wanted to control both the mayor and the Board of Supervisors,” Peskin said.
“We all should breathe a sigh of relief,” Peskin said. “Because if she had the Mayor’s office and the Board of Supervisors, it was recipe for corruption. … Just because she bought herself a mayor does not mean she can buy herself a Board of Supervisors.”
Chiu, a Chinese-American, after being re-elected on Tuesday, praised the Board as being the most ethnically diverse in the history of the city, with nine out of eleven members being non-white. He called on the Board to move forward together in the “spirit of unity and cooperation,” and to leave old ideologies behind.
“It is up to us to set the example of our shining city,” Chiu said.
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