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SF Supervisor Aaron Peskin (Photo: sfbos.org)

Aaron Peskin Chosen As Next SF Board Of Supervisors President

‘Ayatollah Of North Beach’ Peskin gets second Presidency term after stunning multiple round voting on Monday

By Evan Symon, January 10, 2023 2:30 am

Longtime San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin was chosen as the next Board of Supervisors President on Monday, reaching the position for a second time after serving as President over a decade ago.

Peskin, a UC Santa Cruz graduate, began his political career after graduating college in the 1980s as an environmental activist and water-rights negotiator. In addition, Peskin also gained fame during this time as a neighborhood and building preservationist, helping stop several building conversions and projects from taking hold in the city. In 2000, Peskin was first elected to the Board of Supervisors, starting his first term in 2001 under the Mayorship of Willie Brown. Peskin followed this up with reelection in 2005, and becoming the Board President under new Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Peskin’s reputation as a neighborhood preservationist permeated his Supervisor career, even helping implement eminent domain on land parcels to keep areas from being developed and repurposed for city usage, such as for parks and public buildings. He also became notorious for stopping condominium projects at a time when San Francisco needed housing, halting conversion of hotel rooms and stopping other projects. Despite being a huge progressive, he also wavered against affordable housing, offending both liberals and conservatives in the city. This included stopping an effort to build hundreds of affordable housing units in the Tenderloin. In addition, Peskin became infamous for calling city and government officials late at night with harassing phone calls. Then-Mayor Newsom even told reporters that everyone in City Hall had been fed up with him by the time he left.

By the time he was first term-limited out in 2009, Peskin had received several derogatory nicknames, including “the Napoleon of North Beach” and “the Ayatollah of North Beach“. Between terms, Peskin stayed active, becoming Chair of the San Francisco Democratic Central Committee for several years and nearly becoming Mayor in 2011 following Newsom’s resignation to become Lt. Governor.

Peskin was reelected in 2015, and continued to introduce measures against citizen approval. While popular with tenants unions and associations, Peskin blocked homeless shelters, tried to stop needed airport expansion, cancelled popular events for petty reasons, and drunkenly shouted at firefighters during St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. While not liked by many citizens, he has remained popular with constituents. In recent years he has also turned down harassing calls.

Peskin voted as President in stunning Board vote

On Monday, Peskin started out as not even a candidate for Board President, with Supervisor Shamann Walton coming in as the favorite, and Supervisors Connie Chan and Rafael Mandelman as outside candidates. After 12 rounds of voting, the decision was deadlocked, with Walton at five votes, Mandelman at four, and Chan at two. Peskin threw his hat into the ring as a compromise candidate, and immediately got the support of Mandelman, with some of Chan’s and Walton’s supporters deciding on him as well. Soon it was 7-4 with Peskin over Walton after a 10 minute break, boosting Peskin into the top spot again, surprising long-time City Hall watchers.

“Almost 16 years to the day, then-Mayor Gavin Newsom stood in this chamber and complimented board president Aaron Peskin on his reelection as president, and he said that President Peskin had a remarkable ability to bring this board together,” said Supervisor Matt Dorsey on his vote change. “And I believe that Aaron Peskin has that remarkable ability, and I am proud to be supporting him.”

Others were not as positive.

“Something happened behind those doors. People like Peskin, by far the most progressive person on the Board, don’t just win out of the blue. They’re always around, but they don’t just win all the sudden like this. He did,” remarked “Paul” a longtime City Hall worker in San Francisco, to the Globe on Monday. “People are always worried about City Hall, and now with Peskin in charge of the Board, the worry is only going to grow. Peskin just kind of stops whatever he wants and wants to keep the city from growing. I was working here when he couldn’t run in 2009, and people here were so happy he was out.”

“What’s whispered is that he doesn’t actually care about the people. He just wants the city to look nice. And look at what we have, homeless everywhere, drug users everywhere, and main concentrations in places where he’s blocked new shelters or improvements. A lot of homeless advocates have said those projects would have helped the city so much. I guess we’ll never fully know. And the guy who did it is now one of the most powerful people in the city again.”

Peskin’s Presidency term is for two years.

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2 thoughts on “Aaron Peskin Chosen As Next SF Board Of Supervisors President

  1. Good grief, Democrat Supervisor Aaron Peskin (aka the pest) was chosen for the second time as SF Board of Supervisors President? As Mr. Symon noted, Peskin is infamous for calling city and government officials late at night with harassing phone calls–in which he often sounded inebriated. Well, it’s crazy SF contolled by crazy Democrats? Like all elections in the City, no doubt the voting was rigged?

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