Newsom's move progressive, but not necessarily liberal
SF State professors analyze the mayor's picks for prominent city positions
February 10, 2004 4:07 PM
For the third time in less than a month, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom threw what some might consider another curveball at those who criticized him for not being liberal enough during his successful campaign for office.
Today, Newsom named Amy Hart as chief of the city and county medical examiner’s office, just weeks after naming Heather Fong as interim police chief and Joanne Hayes-White as fire chief.
The move is a promotion for Hart, who served as assistant chief medical examiner to the departing Dr. Boyd Stevens. She is a board certified forensic pathologist with specialized training in forensic neuropathology. The appointment is effective July 1.
But does appointing a woman to a high-ranking office necessarily equate progressiveness? According to Associate Professor Loretta Stec, Ph.D., of the humanities department, the answer is a resounding no.
“Just because she’s a woman it doesn’t mean she’s a progressive,” said Stec, drawing a comparison to former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, who was appointed to the position by former President Bill Clinton, but who according to Stec, didn’t pursue the most progressive of policies.
Political science Professor Suijan Guo agreed. “I don’t think it’s automatically a liberal move,” he said. “Sometimes a conservative group can deliberately pick a woman to a high-ranking position for some political purpose. In either the liberal camp or conservative camp you can find women.”
Corey Cook, an assistant professor in the political science department, said the recent appointments are perfect tools for Newsom to disarm his critics.
“Politically it’s a brilliant move,” Cook said. “But whether or not he says he’s a liberal, I wouldn’t necessarily say that’s the criteria.
“(Newsom) vowed when he was elected that he was going to appoint the best people.” Cook also believed Newsom's recent appointments are a means to separate himself from the policies of former Mayor Willie Brown.
“Willie Brown was accused of sort of working with an ‘old boys’ mentality with rewarding all of his supporters. Gavin Newsom is clearly not doing that.”
He said regardless of whether Newsom’s motivation is wanting to promote women to enhance their contributions to city politics, or whether he wants to promote women because it helps him politically, his politics are very different, as evidenced by his public strategy.
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