Political Notebook: SF supes seat gay historic preservation commissioner

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Tuesday July 20, 2021
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Jeffrey Wright, lower left, was approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to serve on the Historic Preservation Commission. Photo: Screengrab
Jeffrey Wright, lower left, was approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to serve on the Historic Preservation Commission. Photo: Screengrab

After months of debate about the need for LGBTQ representation on San Francisco's Historic Preservation Commission, the Board of Supervisors has seated a gay man on the oversight body. The supervisors unanimously voted 11-0 July 20 in approval of Mayor London Breed's appointment of Jason Wright to the commission's Seat 3, which is designated for an architectural historian.

If the mayor administers his oath of office in time, Wright could take part in the commission's Wednesday (July 21) meeting. He is replacing Commissioner Jonathan Pearlman, a gay man, and will be the only out person on the seven-member advisory panel.

Earlier this year Breed opted to also replace Aaron Hyland, a gay man who had been president of the commission. Her initial selection of three straight people for the trio of seats up for renewal this year drew criticism from both LGBTQ preservationists and members of the supervisors' rules committee, who review mayoral appointees.

Its rejection of the only non-incumbent appointee, Christina Dikas, led her to withdraw her nomination ahead of the supervisors' meeting in April where it was expected the board would refuse to seat Dikas. That led Breed to submit in June Wright's nomination for review by the board.

He has a background in both design and conservation, and has 18 years of work in preservation architecture. He has overseen both conservation and architectural projects and engaged in laboratory and other technical conservation methodologies.

"I am really excited and humbled to be considered," Wright told the rules committee July 12 when it voted 3-0 to recommend the full board approve his nomination.

Rules committee chair District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin thanked Breed for listening to the panel's concerns and selecting Wright for the seat. He called him a "qualified" and "independent voice" for the commission.

Gay District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman also praised the mayor for Wright's nomination.

"This seat has been a little bit of an effort for this committee and the mayor, but I think the mayor landed on someone good for this spot," he said. "I am glad and grateful the mayor has nominated Jason Wright. I am happy about this nomination."

Wright has also been active with the GLBT Historical Society's Historic Preservation Working Group, and leaders of the nonprofit praised his being selected by Breed to serve on the oversight body. It weighs in on such matters as the landmarking of LGBTQ historical sites in the city and can exert pressure on historic preservation staff at the planning department to bring forward properties that merit being deemed city landmarks.

"Having grown up gay in a small town in Ohio, and now experiencing and living the LGBTQ community's reality in San Francisco, has given me great appreciation for its history and value, not only to the city but to the nation and the world," he said.

Hyland also praised the selection of Wright, who two decades ago interned at the firm where Hyland worked. He expressed his faith in seeing Wright push for city officials to landmark more properties related to LGBTQ history in the city.

"Thank you Supervisor Mandelman for insisting this seat be held by a member of the LGBTQ community. It is more impactful for us to have a seat at the table," said Hyland.

SF Dems hire queer ED

The San Francisco Democratic Party has hired a queer mixed-race Filipina woman to be its new executive director.

The local party announced the selection of Jackie Prager for the position on July 15. The Bay Area native graduated from the University of San Francisco with a B.S. in politics and a master's degree in urban and public affairs.

Prager has experience working on myriad local political campaigns, including the elections of Mandelman and District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston, as well as nonprofits serving predominantly BIPOC women and youth. She has been serving as a delegate to the California Democratic Party, representing Assembly District 17, and on the executive board of the San Francisco Young Democrats.

Web Extra: For more queer political news, be sure to check http://www.ebar.com Monday mornings for Political Notes, the notebook's online companion. This week's column reported on the executive director search for the new American LGBTQ+ Museum in New York City.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBTQ political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/politicalnotes

Got a tip on LGBTQ politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail [email protected]

Updated 7/26/2021to correct Aaron Hyland's first name.

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