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Mayor Lee Appoints AIDS Activist Jeff Sheehy As District 8's New Supervisor

Jeff Sheehy (center), photographed in 2011 at the building dedication ceremony at the Institute for Regeneration Medicine. (Photo: Viva Vivanista/Flickr)
By Shane Downing - Published on January 06, 2017.

District 8 has a new supervisor.

Today, Mayor Ed Lee announced that longtime HIV/AIDS activist Jeff Sheehy will succeed Scott Wiener as District 8’s supervisor. Wiener vacated the seat in early December when he swore in as District 11 state senator in Sacramento.

By way of his appointment, Sheehy will become the first HIV-positive supervisor in San Francisco’s history.

The Chronicle reports that Lee had reportedly been deciding between Sheehy and Alex Randolph of the City College of San Francisco’s board of trustees. Even though the mayor met with both men—and some speculated that Randolph was more in line with the mayor’s ideologies—Lee chose Sheehy.

Politically, the Glen Park resident—who has an 11-year-old daughter in public school—has a progressive track record. Sheehy is a past president of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, and he established himself as a progressive while serving on the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee.

Sheehy’s background is rooted in his work with HIV/AIDS. He most recently worked as the communications director for the UC San Francisco AIDS Research Institute and was an advisor on HIV/AIDS issues for former Mayor Gavin Newsom.

In 1996, Sheehy helped to pass the equal benefits ordinance, further solidifying his role as a leader in the gay community. The pioneering ordinance prohibited San Francisco from contracting with businesses that did not provide equal employee benefits for domestic partners.

The mayor's appointment means that Sheehy will at least be District 8's supervisor for two years. Sheehy will stand for election, if he chooses to run, in 2018. He could potentially serve 10 years as District 8’s supervisor (the remaining two years of Wiener’s term plus two-four year terms).

Some speculate that Lee selected Sheehy because he appeals equally to moderates and progressives, and could survive a challenge from CCSF board of trustee member Rafael Mandelman (two of Lee’s past three appointees have lost in the subsequent supervisor election). Many progressives tout Mandelman as the favorite to run for the District 8 seat in 2018.

Of his decision to select Sheehy, Mayor Lee offered the following statement:

“Jeff is tested, mature, passionate, and pragmatic. He will be a champion and a tireless advocate for better transportation, common sense housing policies and public safety for the district and for the rights and hopes of the LGBT community across the city at a time when our progress and values are under dire threat from Washington.”

Sheehy will be one of four new members of the board. Voters elected Sandra Fewer to serve as District 1 supervisor, Hillary Ronen for District 9 and Ahsha Safai for District 11 this past November.

In a statement issued earlier today, Sheehy said:

“It is a privilege to follow Senator Wiener, and I hope to build on his legacy and his outstanding leadership on housing, transportation, and public safety. … With our immigrant communities and expanded healthcare access under direct assault, I also will fight to ensure that the city’s efforts to address disparities are not undermined and I will defend our San Francisco values so that our great city remains a beacon of hope across the nation.”

In preparation for Monday's board of supervisors meeting, new members will swear-in Sunday at events around the city.

Stay tuned for future coverage of where Sheehy stands on issues affecting District 8, such as housing, homelessness and transportation.

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