"We're looking forward to working with the new Board of Supervisors," Newsom spokesperson Nathan Ballard told the Guardian after the vote. "The mayor has a long relationship with David Chiu. In fact, he was on our short list to be named assessor just a few years ago."
Yet at the progressive party that night, Chiu sounded like a rock-solid member of that group, promising to help Mirkarimi with police reform, Campos with protecting undocumented city residents, Mar with strengthening city ties to the schools, and Avalos with safeguarding progressive budget priorities.
"I think this is the best outcome we could have," Mirkarimi told the Guardian shortly after Chiu was elected. "I was the deciding vote that delivered Sup. David Chiu, the first Asian American president of the board. That doesn't mean that the seasoned experience of Maxwell and myself wasn't hard to pass by."
In fact, both Dufty and Maxwell groused about the progressive bloc's opposition to Maxwell, noting her positions on issues such as public power, affordable housing, and transportation issues. "The people that voted for me did so because they felt I would at least listen to them," Maxwell told us, expressing frustration at not being accepted "by the board's progressive clique" which, she noted, "are all males."
"I think David will be great," Dufty told the Guardian. "Obviously there was a desire to have someone strongly aligned with the progressive movement. I think it's a mystery that Sophie isn't considered part of the progressive movement."
Progressives are going to have to work at resolving those differences if they are going to play a leadership role in the midyear budget cuts and prevent an expansion of the bloc of five supervisors who stuck with Maxwell and often align with the mayor.
"There has been tension between Ross and myself, but also between Sophie and Ross," Daly told us. "Sophie is feeling that she might be a progressive, too. And some of the things we do on the board need eight votes. The rift between Ross and I is little. The real question is, when do we get Bevan and Sophie back?"
After fending off a progressive challenger in his reelection bid two years ago, Dufty seemed to move to the left, only to return to Newsom's centrist faction — which mixes social liberalism with fiscal conservatism — in the last year. He prevented progressives from being able to override a mayoral veto of their decision to cancel $1 million in funding to Newsom's Community Justice Center. And on Jan. 6, the old board delayed a vote on a mayoral veto of an ordinance that amends the Planning Code to require Conditional Use hearings and permits for any elimination of existing dwelling units through mergers, conversions, or demolitions of residential units, something sought by the tenant groups that are an important part of the progressive coalition.
Those issues, and the thicket that is the budget debate, illustrate what Daly admitted to us last week: "We can't run this city with six votes."
THE BUDGET MESS
The most pressing problem facing the new board is the budget, which requires $125 million in midyear cuts for the current fiscal year and will be an estimated $575 million out of balance for the fiscal year that begins in June. Chiu's first move to deal with it — one lauded by progressives — was to name Avalos as budget chair.
"John Avalos has more experience on budget issues than me," Daly, who chaired the Budget Committee for two years, said of his former board aide. But even Avalos was awestruck by the tsunami of bad budget news hitting the city, telling us, "I was visibly shaken."
Mirkarimi and Elsbernd, the Budget Committee's two other current members, also admit they face a daunting task.