PRO & CONS – Prop D – November 8, 2016

PROPOSITION D – FILLING VACANCIES IN LOCAL ELECTIVE OFFICE

Charter Amendment

Placed on the ballot by the Board of Supervisors

Requires a simple majority to pass.

THE QUESTION:

Should the Charter be amended to require the Mayor to fill any vacancy in any local elected office within 28 days of the date the office becomes vacant, and, additionally, establish new procedures for filling a vacancy on the Board of Supervisors, including requiring under certain conditions that a Special Election be held in that district, usually within 180 days.   Additionally, should the temporary Supervisor appointee not be able to run in that election?

BACKGROUND:

Currently, when a vacancy occurs in a local elected office, the Mayor must appoint a qualified person to fill the vacant office until the next election. The Mayor does not have a deadline for making these temporary appointments nor is there any additional approval process by any other person or body.

The City fills the vacancy for the remainder of the term of office by holding an election, which generally occurs on the date of the next scheduled City election. This election could happen very quickly or, under the new election laws, take up to two years after the appointment. The person appointed by the Mayor to temporarily fill a vacancy may run in the next election.

Currently, this process also applies to members of the Board of Supervisors. Currently, this process also applies to members of the Board of Supervisors. This legislation results from concerns that the unilateral appointment by the Mayor of a member of the Board of Supervisors leads to a loss of separation of powers between the executive and legislative branch. In addition, because the mayoral appointee serves until the next election, that appointee gains the power of incumbency over a new candidate.

Passage of this proposition would require the City to hold a special election for a vacant Board of Supervisors position, usually within 180 days after the vacancy, if no regular election is already scheduled. The temporary Supervisor appointee would not be able to run in that election.

THE PROPOSAL:

This legislation results from concerns that the unilateral appointment by the Mayor of a member of the Board of Supervisors leads to a loss of separation of powers between the executive and legislative branch. In addition, because the mayoral appointee serves until the next election, that appointee gains the power of incumbency over a new candidate.

Passage of Proposition D would require the City to hold a special election for a vacant Board of Supervisors position, usually within 180 days after the vacancy, if no regular election is already scheduled. The temporary Supervisor appointee would not be able to run in that election.

A “YES” Vote Means: If you vote “yes,” you want to amend the Charter to:

  • require the Mayor to make a temporary appointment to fill a vacancy in a local elected office within 28 days of the date of the vacancy;
  • provide that the person who temporarily fills a vacancy on the Board of Supervisors cannot run in the election held to fill that vacancy for the remainder of the term; and
  • require the City to hold an election to fill a vacancy on the Board of Supervisors within 126 to 154 days if there is no City election scheduled, within 180 days if another election is already scheduled within that period, or more than 180 days later if requested by the Director of Elections and approved by the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors.

A “NO” Vote Means: If you vote “no,” you do not want to make these changes.

ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR OF PROP D:

For all appointed offices, Proposition D would:

  • Ensure that all elected-official vacancies are filled promptly, promoting continuation of City government in that position;

For the Board of Supervisors vacancies, Proposition D would also:

  • Strengthen the separation between the executive and the legislative branches of City government by allowing the people in a district to select their representative sooner than is now the case;
  • Bring SF City and County into best practices, as recommended in the 2013 SF LAFco report and as is done with positions in the US Senate, the US House or Representatives, the State Assembly and State Senate;
  • Promote democracy by supporting open and competitive elections, while helping to control the power of incumbency and the resultant financial advantage given to incumbents;
  • Cost a small part of the City budget — as estimated by the Controller the cost over four years would be $340,000 or $85,000 a year   – .0009% of San Francisco’s 2106-2107 $9.6 billion budget.
  • Reduce the temptation of the office of the mayor to appoint termed-out supervisors to other positions before their term expires.
  • Allow the appointee to run in other elections, accept other future appointments, or run in a future election for the same position.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST PROP D:

There are no arguments against requiring the Mayor to fill all vacant elected positions within 28 days.

For the Board of Supervisor vacancies, Proposition D would:

  • Waste voters’ time, because currently the Mayor fills that vacancy until the next election;
  • Waste voters’ time because only that position can be on the ballot for a special election (if the special election is not combined with a regular election);
  • Waste ‘millions of taxpayer dollars’;
  • Reduce the power of the Mayor;
  • Appoint a person for the short-term interim appointment, who would be unaccountable to their constituents, because they would not be allowed to run in the special election for that position;
  • Appoint a person to the short-term appointment, who might be less qualified or motivated, as the appointee is not permitted to run in the special election for that specific position;
  • Result in a special election that might have a low voter turnout;
  • Result in an election that would give more power to special interests.

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