The leading candidates to become San Francisco's next mayor rallied behind Greg Suhr, the 30-year veteran who was sworn in Wednesday as the city's new police chief.
The broad display of support suggests that Suhr will continue to lead the San Francisco Police Department after interim Mayor Ed Lee, who made the appointment, steps down in January. The next mayor will have the authority to name his own police chief.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu and former Supervisor Bevan Dufty -- all of whom have declared themselves as candidates -- gushed over Suhr.
“I can’t imagine a better choice to lead the San Francisco Police Department,” Herrera said. “I fully anticipate that he’s going to be there to provide the continuity and consistency that the police department needs, and I’m hopeful that it’s going to be a long-term basis.”
Chiu said he was “confident that Chief Suhr has the experience and vision to lead the department in the long run.”
Another leading candidate, state Sen. Leland Yee, also responded positively to the selection. "As a Supervisor, I worked closely with Greg when he was captain of the Mission District and I have seen him effectively reduce crime in the Bayview," Yee said in a statement. "He has the skills to effectively lead the department."
City officials who have spoken to Lee say the mayor hoped to leave behind a long-term pick with enough broad political support to remain in the post.
"While I'm an interim mayor, I don't make interim decisions," Lee said at Suhr’s swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday. In the weeks leading up to the appointment, the mayor reportedly interviewed Suhr twice and spoke to City Hall officials extensively to gauge their opinions.
In addition, officials said, the mayor sought a chief who commanded the respect of rank-and-file officers and could enforce discipline following an embarrassing scandal last year involving illegal drug raids at SRO hotels.
Lee also did himself a favor on another front: the delicate pension reform negotiations that Lee has said would define his legacy as mayor.
The appointment came with Lee in the final stages of stitching together support among the city’s public unions for his pension reform initiative. The talks nearly fell apart three weeks ago, but Lee has since repaired ties with all of the unions except the Service Employees International Union Local 1021.
Gary P. Delagnes, the head of the police union, said that he was “very open with the mayor very early” that the union strongly backed Suhr to lead the department, and that Lee could demonstrate his good faith on other issues, like pension reform, by making the pick.