Four more years for Farrell: District 2 supervisor plans next steps

Supervisor Mark Farrell spent a busy Nov. 4 election day getting out the District 2 vote. photo: courtesy mark farrell

On Tuesday, Nov. 4, District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell handily won re-election. With about 80 percent of the vote, he defeated challenger Juan-Antonio Carballo, an inventor, investor, and scientist. Following the wrap of Board of Supervisors business in December, Farrell will begin his second four-year term in early January when the new board meets.

Between now and January, Farrell and his fellow supervisors will have much to deal with, including selecting a new permanent president to replace David Chiu, who is leaving the board to head to the Assembly in Sacramento. Katy Tang will serve as interim president through the end of 2014, with a permanent replacement chosen when the board reconvenes in January. A replacement for Chiu’s District 3 seat will be named by Mayor Ed Lee; it is a position that could hold the balance of power for the progressive-moderate split on the city’s legislative council.

The Marina Times spoke with Supervisor Farrell shortly after his victory to get his take on priorities for his next term as well as developments on the Board.

What did you do to celebrate Tuesday night when you learned you had been reelected?

I went to dinner with my family and campaign team, and we had a quiet celebration.

What will be your priorities for your next term on the Board of Supervisors?

It will be a continuation of a number of priorities of my first term.

First, a strong focus on District 2. And there are a number of major projects [with which I will remain involved], whether it be CPMC or the UCSF campus of Laurel Heights [or others] — all these major projects are going to have impacts on the quality of life in our neighborhoods and I’m going to continue to be involved, as well as with other neighborhood issues that develop. One of the [priorities] of my first term was building close relationships with neighborhood associations and merchant associations [and finding out how City Hall can help]. Our neighborhoods have a voice inside of City Hall, and wherever City Hall can be helpful in advocating for them, I want to continue to provide that strong voice.

The second part is continuing to focus on our local economy. We’ve obviously had a massive shift in the last few years in our local economy. Unemployment went from 10.5 percent to 4.5 percent, but we need to make sure the economy continues to diversify in the city and that we focus on our merchant corridors. I want to make sure we do all we can to support them.

Lastly, it’s about quality of life across San Francisco and in District 2, whether it’s focusing on homelessness or our parks [or other issues]. I view our role in City Hall as focusing on what people in the neighborhoods do when we walk out the door in the morning, whether it’s to get in the car or walk to the park or take our kids to school.

There is much attention being paid to selecting a new president of the Board of Supervisors, now that David Chiu is going to Sacramento. Do you want to be the next board president?

It’s something I would be interested in, but I have very much enjoyed my role as budget chair over the last two years, and I believe I will continue to be effective for the city and District 2 in whatever role I have.

How are the chairmanships selected? Is that annually or biannually?

It’s usually for two years. Once the board president is selected, the board president makes committee assignments.

Regardless of who becomes is the new president of the Board of Supervisors, how would you like to see him or her lead the board? What qualities or priorities would you like to see that person have?

We’re all going to vote [for a new board president based on] what we feel is best for our districts and for the city. I’m less concerned about the person’s ideology as president of the board and more about it being someone who is looking out for the board as a whole — that we continue to maintain a collegial atmosphere, that supervisors are able to pursue their [policy agendas] and feel supported. That is more a priority than someone who will vote the same way all the time.

In what ways are the issues facing District 2 similar to those facing the rest of the city? How are they different?

I think the issues that are topical citywide are largely topical in District 2 as well. If you talk about the cost of housing in San Francisco, obviously District 2 is more affluent than many other neighborhoods, but the cost of housing is important for everybody whether you’re a homeowner or a renter.

I have focused a lot on the homelessness issue in San Francisco. I was often asked why, as a District 2 supervisor, it is something I prioritize. My answer is that this is an issue that affects every neighborhood in the city. Some people think that District 2 doesn’t have a homeless problem, or doesn’t suffer from some of the human issues that affect other districts in the city, but that is wrong.

I think our district is not that dissimilar to other areas in town in terms of the topics we face. We might have different ways we deal with them and they might be of different magnitude, but they are still of concern to our residents.

What will happen on the board in December? Will much be done or will policy matters really start in earnest when it reconvenes in January with a full board?

That would be my gut. In the month of December, there will be a lot of preparation for next year, [attention on] who the new supervisor will be, how that will affect the composition of the board, and talking about who will be mayor next year and who will challenge Mayor Lee.

We only have a few meetings until the end of the year to finish off what we started this year and prepare for next year to hit the ground running in January.

Will you be challenging Mayor Lee in the mayor’s race?

No. I believe Mayor Lee has done a good job for our city and has governed well, and I think he is the right choice to lead the city for the next [four] years.

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