Commissioners Seeking Office
Prohibiting Appointed Commissioners From Running for Office
Requires that appointed members of a city board or commission resign their seat if they declare candidacy for state or local elected office.
What the Measure Would Do
This measure would amend the San Francisco City Charter to require that appointed members of boards and commissions established by the charter forfeit their seats if they file a declaration of candidacy for any state elected office, the BART Board of Directors or any elected office referenced in Section 13.101 of the City Charter: the mayor, sheriff, district attorney, city attorney, treasurer, assessor-recorder, public defender, and members of the Board of Education, Board of Community College District or Board of Supervisors.
The measure would exempt appointed members of boards and commissions established by ordinance and citizen advisory committees. Neither would the measure apply to elected officials, including those who have been appointed to a board or commission because of their office.
San Francisco has a number of commissions and boards, which include policy and decision-making boards as well as advisory bodies. Members are appointed by the mayor, the Board of Supervisors or other elected officials. Depending on the commission or board, these appointees either serve at the pleasure of the appointing authority (which means they can be removed at any time) or serve fixed terms (which ensures that they will be able to make independent judgments).
Though it is commonly accepted practice for appointed members to resign their commission or board seats should they decide to run for state or local elected office, current law does not require it. This measure arose out of concern that appointed commission or board members could unfairly use their status to elevate their political campaigns or that political ambitions could compromise their ability to fulfill their responsibilities.
This measure was placed on the ballot by a vote of 7-4 at the Board of Supervisors. As a charter amendment, it must be on the ballot and requires a simple majority (50 percent plus one vote) to pass.
- It’s a good government practice to set clear “rules of the game” and to codify a common-sense policy that is already generally practiced.
- This measure is a solution in search of a problem. It is generally accepted practice to resign an appointed seat if a board or commission member decides to run for elected office, and there is little evidence that the current system is being abused.
This measure would help ensure that sitting commissioners and board members make decisions in service of their jobs and not to benefit their own political ambitions. While there isn’t an obvious need for this amendment to the City Charter, what is accepted practice today is no guarantee of good behavior in the future. Today, multiple elected officials and bodies besides the mayor have appointing authority, which makes it more difficult for voters to hold a commissioner or board member accountable. With regard to conflicts of interest related to running for elected office, this measure would codify a common-sense practice and set reasonable standards of behavior for these public servants.