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San Francisco supervisors met Friday for their inaugural meeting and chose District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton as the new board president, marking the first time a Black man has held that position. Walton will lead the board as city officials still grapple with Covid-19 and navigate a challenging economic recovery.

Voters elected Walton to the board in November 2018, representing the Bayview/Hunters Point and Potrero Hill. He previously worked as the executive director at Young Community Developers and sat as a member and president on the Board of Education.

Newly elected District 7 Supervisor Myrna Melgar nominated Walton during the online inaugural meeting, saying:

“I am very grateful that he’s willing to rise to this challenge … and to help us by taking on this position during these difficult times.”

Reelected District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai said Walton is capable of bringing unity to the board, adding:

“It is my great honor to support Supervisor Walton, to encourage his style of bridge building and and quite frankly, you know, help not only come and work past this economic and public health calamity, but also to rebuild trust and city government.”

District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who was also reelected in November, said Walton shares her passion for and focus on The City’s vulnerable communities:

Ronen said:

“He is someone that leads with integrity, and always does what he believes is the right thing, regardless of the politics and the surrounding circumstances.”

In the time Walton has served as supervisor, he has helped to create the African American Reparations Committee and worked with Mayor London Breed to redirect portions of city funds from law enforcement to the Black community.

He gained national attention last year for the passage of legislation he introduced that makes it a crime to call 911 based on a person’s race. In the November election, voters also passed a proposition he introduced that establishes an oversight committee of the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department.

Citing the current political climate in Washington D.C., Breed called for unity during the board meeting, saying:

“If there’s anytime to put aside our differences in the name of accomplishing something greater, this is that time. We can do so much to move our city forward and help the people of San Francisco if we can only put aside our differences and make a commitment to work together.”

Walton said the board has a lot of work ahead for the rest of the year, including getting The City through the pandemic:

“This Board of Supervisors will be remembered for years to come on how we come together through this adversity. Along with our mayor, we must roll up our sleeves and lead San Francisco through recovery from this pandemic and be a model for the nation.”

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. A San Francisco native, he has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. He has produced stories for the San Francisco Public Press and Ingleside Light. Send tips to jerold@sfbay.ca or at Twitter @Jerold_Chinn.

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