Cisneros sworn in
by Cynthia Laird
Jose Cisneros was sworn in to his first full four-year term as city treasurer-tax collector before a crowd of local political leaders and friends Thursday, January 5 in the City Hall Rotunda.
Cisneros, 49, easily won the nonpartisan post in last November's election. Appointed treasurer in September 2004 after then-Treasurer Susan Leal was named general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Cisneros ran his first campaign last year and beat his three opponents.
Mayor Gavin Newsom swore in Cisneros, and joked that he had never seen a more stressed candidate during last year's election. Cisneros was basically running unopposed, Newsom said, alluding to the fact that all three challengers were relatively unknown and Cisneros had the power that comes with being an incumbent.
"He represents the values of San Francisco," Newsom said of the openly gay Cisneros, who is Latino. "He got out and worked with real people and got the working families tax credit. Close to 10,000 people benefited from Jose's work."
Cisneros also is working on a "Bank on San Francisco" initiative that aims to establish bank accounts for lower income residents so that they do not have to use check-cashing businesses, which charge high fees.
During his remarks, Cisneros thanked his partner, Mark Kelleher, his supporters, and the staff in the treasurer's office. He pointed out that the office collected more revenue than expected in 2005. He also talked about various improvements in the department to make it easier for residents to pay their taxes.
"Our on-time payment for property taxes approaches 99 percent," Cisneros said. "We've made it easier to get questions answered."
The tax money collected funds numerous city services, ranging from health care to police and fire to street maintenance and parks.
"We also have a responsibility to manage the city's investments," Cisneros said, "and our yield ranks among the highest in counties in California."
As for the future, Cisneros is pushing ahead and working with the Board of Supervisors to craft legislation to curb what he called "predatory" check cashing businesses and will serve as vice chair of the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, along with openly gay San Jose City Council member Ken Yeager, who was named chair.
"Fifty-thousand San Franciscans don't have any bank," he said. "I want to offer the unbanked truly affordable banking needs to make sure everybody is offered appropriate banking so they can keep the money they earn."