Now Playing

Five Big Takeaways From Ed Lee's District 3 Appointment

What the naming of Julie Christensen to the Board means for city politics. 

Julie Christensen

Julie Christensen 


San Francisco is back up to a full slate of supervisors, as Ed Lee announced this afternoon he would be appointing politically active North Beach businesswoman Julie Christensen to the seat vacated by David Chiu. A first-time officeholder, Christensen is a product-design consultant, and worked for the new North Beach Library and an extension of the central subway line. Here's a few quick thoughts about what it all means:

The center holds: Of the two leading candidates vying to be appointed, Christensen was the more moderate—and the closer to the mayor's political preferences. Planning Commission President Cindy Wu, who had big support from Chinatown, including from Rose Pak, voted against the 8 Washington condo project that the mayor supported. On the fundamentals, then, it's not much of a surprise that the mayor found a choice that hewed closer to his pro-tech, pro-development positions. 

Once bitten twice shy: It's hard to see this appointment without the context of the Mayor's two previous appointments: The one that didn't work out for him—Christina Olague; and the one that did—current Board president Katy Tang. In appointing Christensen, Lee appears to have moved to avoid repeating what was for him a costly mistake in his first appointment. Whether or not his third looks like his second remains to be seen.

The board stays the same: A Wu-for-Chiu swap would have pulled the board to the left, perhaps even enough to put in doubt Katy Tang's hold on the presidency. By contrast, a Christensen-for-Chiu swap keeps the balance of the moderate and progressive camps at the same levels they were before Chiu went to Sacramento.

Peskin is in play: The former North Beach supervisor is making noise about attempting to reclaim his old seat, telling us "I'm thinking about it. I'm getting encouraged." Should he get in the race it sets up what could be a bruising contest between the two Telegraph Hill dwellers this November. 

The mayor is feeling free: Without any declared challengers for his reelection, Lee doesn't have to worry quite as much about his political capital. If he had been facing a tough race—say Mark Leno had jumped in—it would have made more sense for Lee to appoint Wu to curry favor within Chinatown. But without any credible opponents, Lee is free to appoint a supervisor closer to his point on the spectrum.


Have feedback? Email us at
Email Scott Lucas at
Follow us on Twitter @sanfranmag
Follow Scott Lucas on Twitter @ScottLucas86