As was expected, Mayor Lee has filled outgoing Supervisor Scott Wiener's seat on the Board of Supervisors unofficially the "gay seat" on the board since it was originally held by Harvey Milk with another gay person, but he's making a bit of history today by appointing the first openly HIV-positive person to the Board, Jeff Sheehy. Sheehy has been a longtime advocate for HIV/AIDS causes and has most recently been working as director for communications for the UCSF AIDS Research Institute. He's a resident of Glen Park also a part of District 8 along with the Castro, Noe Valley, Twin Peaks, Diamond Heights, Duboce Triangle, and a piece of the Mission District where he lives with his husband, Bill Berry, and their daughter Michelle, as the Bay Area Reporter notes.
And though Sheehy is expected to side with the Board's new six-person moderate majority otherwise Lee wouldn't have picked him it's notable that he was at one time the president of the progressive Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, back in the mid-1990's. He's well known for having pushed for and created San Francisco’s historic Equal Benefits Ordinance, the pioneering law that made SF the first city in the country to require employers with city contracts to offer equal benefits to their employees’ domestic partners. The ordinance spawned many similar ones throughout the state of California and across the country.
In a press release Friday morning, Mayor Lee praised Sheehy as a "tested, mature, passionate, and pragmatic" community member and neighborhood activist who has "spent his entire life fighting for his community and for what he believes is right." Lee continued, "As an activist, an advocate, a dad with a daughter in public school and as a Glen Park neighbor, Jeff brings a unique background and practical experience to the job to meet the challenges of the district’s diverse neighborhoods and communities."
Wiener said he was "delighted" by the mayor's pick, and said that Sheehy is "an extraordinary leader and exactly what we need right now a strong, decisive, and passionate voice for our shared progressive values, and someone who deeply understands the needs of our neighborhoods."
Sheehy says in a statement:
It’s an honor to have this opportunity to serve the people of my community and the diverse neighborhoods of District 8. It is a privilege to follow Senator Wiener, and I hope to build on his legacy and his outstanding leadership on housing, transportation, and public safety. With our immigrant communities and expanded healthcare access under direct assault, I also will fight to ensure that the City’s efforts to address disparities are not undermined and I will defend our San Francisco values so that our great City remains a beacon of hope across the nation.
The Examiner spoke to several Sheehy fans including UCSF colleague Dr. Paul Volberding, who says, "Jeff is an outstanding leader in science and health and has been extremely effective in bringing the entire community together." And, he adds, "He is thoughtful and takes time to listen from those addressing community challenges."
Sheehy could potentially have a long tenure on the Board ten years assuming he is officially elected to the seat when it next comes up for election in 2018. He will serve on the Board until then, and if he wins election, he remains eligible to run for another four-year term in 2022.
The coveted seat was also being sought by gay City College of San Francisco Trustee Alex Randolph, as the Bay Area Reporter notes, as well as former San Francisco AIDS Foundation senior vice president James Loduca. Also potentially in contention were Rebecca Prozan, Google’s chief of public policy and government affairs who previously ran against Wiener, and may end up running for the seat again; and Conor Johnston, London Breed's openly gay chief of staff.
Sheehy will be sworn in on Sunday, January 8, at a ceremony at City Hall alongside his new elected colleagues Sandra Fewer and Hillary Ronen, and they will then attend their first meeting as supervisors on Monday. As the Chronicle points out, this is the first time since 1996 that Board has been composed of a majority of a women, with Ronen and Fewer joining Katy Tang, London Breed, Jane Kim, and Malia Cohen.