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Mayor London Breed, Board of Supervisors spar over rejected SF police commission candidate

PIX Now - Morning Edition 6/7/24
PIX Now - Morning Edition 6/7/24 11:30

San Francisco elected officials got into an escalating war of words this week after the Board of Supervisors' Rules Committee rejected one of the mayor's choices for a police commissioner.

The mayor criticized the decision as being driven by politics instead of safety, leading to a rebuke from one lawmaker and support from others.

The nominee, Debra Walker, is a current member of the Police Commission who was first appointed by Mayor London Breed in 2022. The seven-member commission sets Police Department policy and conducts disciplinary hearings and related matters. Four are appointed by the mayor and approved by the Board of Supervisors, while three others are nominated by the Rules Committee.

Walker is an artist and former member of the San Francisco Arts Commission and Building Commission who has been involved in city politics for decades, including as president of the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club.

In a statement on Wednesday, Breed criticized the two committee members who shot down the nomination, accusing them of "prioritizing obstruction and theater over a safer, stronger, more inclusive San Francisco."

"Debra does more than just engage with the community—she listens and she moves forward policies that make San Francisco a better place for all," Breed said.

"I'm calling on the Board of Supervisors to move past politics and division, and support Debra Walker to serve on the Police Commission. This is a pivotal time for public safety in San Francisco. We are seeing progress. We can't go backwards," she said.

Walker's nomination was rejected 2-0 by the rules committee, which had one member absent and another excused. Supervisors Ahsha Safai and Shamann Walton both voted against Walker's reappointment.

Safai released a statement denouncing the mayor's response to the vote.

"Mayor Breed blasting the Board for not reappointing Debra Walker to the Police Commission is her usual petty politics," he said.

"I approached Ms. Walker's reappointment with an open mind, but the Rules Committee ultimately rejected her because she came to the meeting unprepared and demonstrated an unwillingness to perform her duties of overseeing the police department. Despite serving on the Police Commission for two years, she couldn't answer basic questions about its functions, policies, or goals," Safai said.

Walker did not respond to a request for comment.

Supervisors Matt Dorsey and Rafael Mandelman both spoke out on social media in support of Breed's statement and Walker's nomination.

"Thank you, @LondonBreed, for putting safety ahead of politics, and fighting for a reappointment that has my full support," Dorsey wrote. "Debra Walker is a respected LGBTQ+ leader and veteran public servant who deserved better than getting mansplained to about what a city commissioner's job is," he wrote.

Mandelman reposted Dorsey's comments saying he agreed.

Breed's other nominee, retired Alameda Superior Court Judge C. Don Clay was approved 2-0. The term runs through April 30, 2028.

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