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San Francisco Mayor London Breed Thursday nominated Assessor Carmen Chu to replace outgoing City Administrator Naomi Kelly.

Kelly announced Tuesday she will resign effective Feb. 1 amid an ongoing City Hall corruption scandal involving her husband, Harlan Kelly, former General Manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. Federal prosecutors allege Harlan Kelly accepted bribes from contractor and permit expediter Walter Wong. Naomi Kelly was not named in the complaint or charged with a crime and has repeatedly claimed allegations against her husband are false.

Chu has served The City for a number of years, including an appointment by then Mayor Gavin Newsom to serve as District 4 supervisor during another City Hall scandal involving former Supervisor Ed Jew. Chu won her election in 2008 and reelection in 2010.

Former Mayor Ed Lee appointed Chu to the assessor-recorder post in 2013 after the seat was vacated by Phil Ting when he won his election to the State Assembly.

Breed touted Chu’s reputation as a fiscal conservative in serving as the Board of Supervisors budget chair and in her time at the assessor’s office where she worked to generate billions of dollars in property tax revenue.

The mayor said:

“Under her leadership the assessor’s office has successfully reversed a decade’s old backlog of assessment cases, while generating over $3.6. billion in property tax revenue annually to support public services in San Francisco.”

Ching Wong/SFBay San Francisco Mayor (and former District 5 Supervisor) London Breed, center, and Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu, right, give remarks after Katy Tang, left, declines to seek reelection for District 4 supervisor in November during a press conference held in San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, June 13, 2018.

Chu also co-chairs the mayor’s Covid-19 Economic Recovery Task Force, which was tasked with developing recommendations and strategies to help local small businesses during and after the pandemic.

Breed said:

“With her leadership the task force developed 41 recommendations and policy ideas to make the city’s economy stronger, more resilient and more equitable.”

A daughter of immigrants, Chu said she and her sisters worked at their parents’ small restaurant, which helped ground her experiences in life serving as a public servant.

She said:

“I think it’s recognizing that so many people start off from different places that it’s a privilege, when any of us have the ability to serve in the public capacity.”

The City Administrator’s Office oversees dozens of city departments, including the Department of Public Works, Office of the Medical Examiner and Animal Care and Control.

Supervisors will need to confirm Chu’s appointment to serve the remainder of Kelly’s term until the next election is held.

Breed was asked by a reporter if she asked Naomi Kelly to resign, but Breed declined to discuss the resignation as it is a personnel matter.

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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