Art Agnos, San Francisco's mayor from 1988 to 1992, says he has been speaking with members of the Board of Supervisors about the possibility he will serve as an interim mayor. Under the deal being proposed, he would not stand for election in Nov. 2011, leaving the field clear for other candidates.
"I have been contacted by members of the Board of Supervisors, and I have spoken to others on my own, because my name has come up as a possibility for interim mayor," Agnos said Friday. "If they come to the conclusion that they want someone who serves for one year, and not run, then I will [be available to] serve."
Agnos' name has been floated before as a possible replacement for lieutenant governor-elect Newsom.
But the idea has gained purchase lately thanks to the complicated politics
surrounding both the process by which the Board of Supervisors chooses an interim mayor, and potential candidates' considerations as they position themselves for the Nov. 2011 election. If six members of the board agree on a new mayor, that person can be appointed to serve until Newsom's term expires.
Possible appointees have included Aaron Peskin, David Chiu, Tom Ammiano, David Campos, and John Avalos. Ammiano may not wish to run. Peskin and Chiu may not have the votes. And while popular in their districts, some popular wisdom says potential Great Left Hopes Avalos and Campos would have a hard time time assembling a citywide campaign to run for mayor in 2011 while also governing San Francisco.
Next year, meanwhile, is expected to be an awful one for running this city. Growing budget deficits -- compounded by expected state and federal cuts -- continued depressed tax revenues thanks to the recession, a continuing pension and employee health-care expense crisis, and myriad other San Francisco problems will make whichever chief executive makes tough choices about these issues in 2011 too unpopular to be elected by November
These factors open the door for a third way, in which the board members abandon whomever their first-choice appointments might be, in favor of choosing a qualified caretaker who pledges not to run next year.
"I think someone who serves out Newsom's term will have one of the hardest jobs in the history of San Francisco.," Agnos said Friday. "The choices and decisions that will be required of the mayor in 2011 will not be conducive to re-eleciton if they want to do the right thing. I have been through that. I understand it. And have the capcity to deal with it. But I would not want any distractions that would be involved in re-election as I made those decisions working with the Board of Supervisors. If that's what you want, and you decide that's what's in the best interst of the city, I would be your candidate."
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