San Francisco Mayoral Succession Laws (December 2017)

In the wake of the tragic news of Mayor Lee’s death, many of our clients and colleagues have legal questions about what comes next at City Hall.  The law provides the following process for selecting Mayor Lee’s successor:

*    Supervisor Breed, as President of the Board of Supervisors, is currently the Acting Mayor.

*    The Board of Supervisors may officially appoint a successor – Supervisor Breed, another Supervisor, or anyone else – to serve as Acting Mayor until the June 2018 election.  The Board is not legally required to appoint a successor to Mayor Lee; if it does not act, then Supervisor Breed will remain as Acting Mayor and Board President until the June election.

*    At the June 2018 election, San Francisco voters will elect someone to fill the remainder of Mayor Lee’s current term, through the end of 2019.  Prospective candidates must file for this election by January 9, 2018.

*    San Francisco voters will then vote for Mayor again in the regularly-scheduled election in November 2019.

*    Supervisor Breed retains her seat as District 5 Supervisor while she serves as Acting Mayor.  However, if the Board officially selects her to serve through the June election, then her Supervisor seat will become vacant – at which point she will select her successor, and there will be an election to fill the unexpired term of District 5 Supervisor at the June 2018 election.

*    The person elected as Mayor at the June 2018 election may be able to serve two additional four-year terms, because the period in which this person will be in office – mid-2018 through the end of 2019 – is less than half of a full four-year term.  However, if the Board appoints someone to serve as Acting Mayor through the June election on or before January 8, 2018, and that same person runs in and wins the June election, then that person will only be able to serve one additional four-year term.

The upcoming June 2018 Mayoral campaign will also be governed by a new campaign finance law which goes into effect on January 1: Registered San Francisco “lobbyists” will be prohibited from making contributions in any amount to candidates for Mayor (or to candidates for Supervisor in District 8, which will also appear on the June ballot).  Lobbyists will also be prohibited from personally collecting and delivering contributions to campaigns (i.e., “bundling”), though they may continue to fundraise for candidates in other ways after the new year.

Feel free to contact a Sutton Law Firm attorney with any questions regarding these election or campaign laws.