San Francisco May Have First Chinese-American (Acting) Mayor

San Francisco Board of Supervisors president David Chiu stands to be San Francisco's first Chinese-American mayor -- even if only for a day!


(H/T Jeff Yang) 

California’s election of current San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom as its new lieutenant governor on Tuesday leaves San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors with a major office to fill. In the running to be appointed as San Francisco’s interim mayor (until an election can be held) are several candidates who, if appointed, would be either the first openly-gay, the first Chinese-American or the first “modern-era” Latino mayor of the Golden Gate city.   

Democrat and civil rights activist David Chiu, who is the president of the Board of Supervisors, is one of the front-runners in the decision.  And, for a city in which 31.5% of its residents are Asian American, perhaps it’s about time for an Asian American to claim the city’s top spot? Chiu’s no stranger to being an Asian American first: Chiu made history two years by becoming the first Asian American to represent San Francisco’s teeming Chinatown district as Supervisor. Here’s a biography of Chiu’s many accomplishments, written when he was running for the Board of Supervisors. 

As it stands, as Board of Supervisors president, Chiu will serve as acting mayor starting from Newsom’s swearing in (January 3rd) until a decision for interim mayor can be made. The Board is slated to meet on January 4th, meaning that for 24 hours, Chiu will serve as acting mayor: 

Until the board votes on an interim mayor – something it doesn’t have to do – the board president serves as acting mayor if the office is vacant. Under the City Charter, that responsibility will fall to current board President Chiu, at least for a day. 

Democrats on the Board of Supervisors must weigh some heavy political consequences prior to their decision, which could affect whether they retain the mayorship next term. 

Corey Cook, a University of San Francisco political scientist, said the pressure will be on the board’s liberal flank to decide whether to support a nondivisive placeholder or give an ally a head start. 

“If the progressives guess wrong this time, they will not win the mayor’s office in 2011,” Cook said. 

Cook said a placeholder mayor might be the safest choice, given the tough budget year that lies ahead when difficult decisions will have to be made. 

Who knows if Chiu’s “mayorship” will extend past sun-down on January 4th, but his tenure in office is still an exciting first in California’s Asian American history!

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