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Milk club may get new co-president

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Kaylah Williams is expected to be nominated to co-lead the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club. Photo: Tumay Aslay
Kaylah Williams is expected to be nominated to co-lead the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club. Photo: Tumay Aslay  

In the aftermath of an email sent by the president of the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club that accused San Francisco Mayor London Breed of "hobophobia" regarding her homeless policies in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the organization may soon have a new co-president.

Kaylah Williams, a longtime club board member and the manager of Chesa Boudin's successful run for San Francisco district attorney last fall, will be nominated at the club's next general membership meeting May 19, with a confirmation vote at the following meeting on June 16.

Williams, who identifies as bi, will serve alongside Bard, a gay man who has been president of the club since last year. Bard and Williams will be the first black co-presidents in club history.

"I look forward to getting the chance to run as co-president alongside Kevin Bard," Williams wrote in a text message. "I hope to maintain the Milk club's legacy of inclusive queer leadership. Especially now in light of COVID-19 we need to work together to protect our city's most vulnerable, and I'm ready to keep doing that work with our E-Board and members."

The club's May 9 email explained the leadership change.

"After a long and healthy discussion among the entire board, including President Bard, we mutually agreed that pursuing a co-presidency and expanding our leadership structure was the best path forward, particularly at a time when many of us and our peers are struggling in various ways during the COVID-19 emergency," the email states. "Having said that, further recourse is available to the membership should any member wish to pursue it. We are a 'small-d' democratic club and serve at your pleasure. Our bylaws provide a process for dismissal of club officers and other remedies that fall short of dismissal."

"After a long and healthy discussion among the entire board, including President Bard, we mutually agreed that pursuing a co-presidency and expanding our leadership structure was the best path forward, particularly at a time when many of us and our peers are struggling in various ways during the COVID-19 emergency," a May 9 Milk club email states. "Having said that, further recourse is available to the membership should any member wish to pursue it. We are a 'small-d' democratic club and serve at your pleasure. Our bylaws provide a process for dismissal of club officers and other remedies that fall short of dismissal."

As previously reported, the leadership shakeup comes in response to controversy Bard generated last week when he authored an email from the club that, in criticizing Breed's homelessness policies, accused her of "hobophobia" and "black on black crime."

Bard's email hadn't been reviewed by any other member of the club's executive board before it was sent out.

Bard and the club apologized for the email and, after a meeting May 3, delineated a new process for sending out emails from the club's account.

"The club correspondent will resume their lead role of drafting all emails — as is their responsibility — in collaboration with, and review by, other board members and mandatory sign-off by the board's vice president of internal affairs or their designee," the club stated in the May 9 email.

The email repeated the club's apology for the insensitive language in the email, but also made clear what it does not apologize for.

"It is unacceptable that the mayor has been showered with praise for her administration's response to this crisis while refusing to move swiftly to protect San Francisco's houseless residents, people living in single-room-occupancy hotels, and black and Latino communities," the email states. "These failures are the culmination of decades of anti-homeless policy, upon which San Francisco's mayor, California's governor, and members of our state legislative delegation have built their political careers."

Bard did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Updated, 5/13/20: This article has been updated with a comment from Ms. Williams.

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