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San Francisco supervisors unanimously Tuesday confirmed Mayor London Breed’s appointment of Assessor Carmen Chu to serve as the city administrator.

The Board of Supervisors lavished praise on Chu for her work as a former District 4 supervisor and at the assessor’s office. She will formally take over her new post on Monday.

The city administrator is seen as one of The City’s top non-elected officials who oversees 25 city departments, including the Department of Public Works, the 311 customer service center and the real estate division.

Prior to the vote, Chu said:

“The city administrator has really a large role to play in terms of setting policies helping to create good guidance for all of our city departments when it comes to things that impact all organizations, whether we’re talking about infrastructure for our IT, whether we’re talking about how it is that we procure contracting to even where it is that our city employees work.”

Chu began working at City Hall in 2005 as former Mayor Gavin Newsom’s deputy director of policy and finance and was later appointed by Newsom in 2007 to serve as the District 4 supervisor, replacing embattled former Supervisor Ed Jew. She went on to win the November 2008 election and was reelected in 2010.

The late Mayor Ed Lee appointed Chu to serve as The City’s assessor in 2013 when then Assessor Phil Ting was elected to the state assembly. Chu was recently tasked by Breed to co-chair the Covid-19 Economic Recovery Task Force.

Breed nominated Chu when City Administrator Naomi Kelly submitted her resignation earlier this month. The resignation came weeks after federal prosecutors filed charges against her husband, Harlan Kelly, former San Francisco Public Utilities Commission general manager, for allegedly accepting contractor bribes.

Supervisor Hillary Ronen said Chu’s nomination was a “brilliant” pick, adding:

“What San Francisco desperately needs right now in a city administrator is competency, honesty and integrity. Carmen Chu has all three of those things in abundance.”

On Wednesday, Breed announced that she has chosen Joaquin Torres to fill the role as The City’s next assessor.

Breed said:

“He has a well of experience working with businesses both large and small, as well as communities throughout our entire City that are too often ignored, and he understands how important this office is to our economic recovery.”

Torres has led the Office of Economic and Workforce Development as director since 2018. The office has been a hub for small businesses to find information about grants, loans and support during the Covid-19 pandemic. He also serves as the current president of the San Francisco Housing Authority Commission.

Torres has served The City in a number of capacities over the past decade, including as director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services and director of San Francisco Invest in Neighborhoods initiative

In a statement, Torres said:

“I’m honored to assume these responsibilities essential to our economic stability and recovery and to build on the improvements of Assessor Chu to continue serving the City and County in this new role.”

Drawing on their work together as Covid-19 task force co-chairs, Chu issued a statement praising Torres’ appointment, saying: 

“During this pandemic, I saw him work tirelessly to get help out the door as quickly as possible to serve small businesses and workers. He is a compassionate leader who understands the significance of the Assessor’s work in supporting critical City services.”

Torres will assume the assessor position for the remainder of Chu’s term. Voters will determine who later fills that role in the June 2022 election

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. Send tips to jerold@sfbay.ca or at Twitter @Jerold_Chinn.

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