- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 10, 2003

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Gavin Newsom, soon to become San Francisco’s youngest mayor in more than a century, will need all the help he can get to unify a city burdened with chronic problems and polarized by a surprisingly close election.

The 36-year-old Democrat not only will have to run the city with a shrinking budget; he will also have to get his ideas past the Board of Supervisors, which is led by the man he defeated in Tuesday’s election.

“This is a very difficult city to be mayor of,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who spent nine years as mayor here and supported Mr. Newsom. “This is a city, as they say in Washington, that will roll you 67 ways to Sunday.”

Mr. Newsom, a wealthy businessman, city supervisor and protege of outgoing Mayor Willie Brown, benefited from the Democrats’ get-out-the-vote effort in Tuesday’s race against Green Party candidate Matt Gonzalez.

Mr. Newsom won by 53 percent to 47 percent — a close race, considering Mr. Newsom outspent his rival 8 to 1 and the Green Party makes up only 3 percent of the city’s registered voters.

Mr. Gonzalez, the Board of Supervisors president, ran an anti-establishment campaign that stoked voter anger over the autocratic style of Mr. Brown, who was prevented by term limits from running again.

Still, it was a good night for Mr. Brown, whose endorsements had been considered a liability in the city after he became a symbol of patronage and cronyism in City Hall. Mr. Brown’s connections paid off for a new generation of Democrats, including his choice for district attorney, Kamala Harris, a 39-year-old former girlfriend.

Miss Harris unseated Terence Hallinan, a two-term incumbent and Brown nemesis, to become the state’s first black district attorney. Mr. Hallinan, 67, had campaigned as “the nation’s most progressive D.A.” but came under fire for indicting the city’s police chief in an ill-fated grand jury probe.

Miss Harris promised better relations with police, criticized Mr. Hallinan as soft on crime and blamed his office for a huge backlog of cases.

The mayor-elect vowed to reach out to his rivals’ supporters on election night. But Mr. Gonzalez, who is up for re-election as supervisor next November, urged his supporters to regroup and be ready to oppose Mr. Newsom’s policies.

Mr. Newsom, who will be sworn in Jan. 8, will need the Board of Supervisors’ help to turn his 21 position papers into city policy on such issues as crime, homelessness and the city’s sagging economy.

His proposals include creating a single telephone number for city services, importing a crime-mapping system that New York uses, and creating an office to improve San Francisco’s ability to attract state and federal funding.

“This guy is a policy wonk. He knows how to implement things,” said Jim Illig, a longtime advocate for San Francisco nonprofit agencies. “The good side of policy wonks is they think things through.”

Mr. Newsom’s supporters call him a left-leaning Democrat, but opponents cast him as a Republican in liberal’s clothing who would drive out poor and working-class residents.


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