Earlier this month, San Francisco Police Officers’ Association president Tony Montoya told Mission Local he was expecting his forthcoming police union election to be “a nail-biter.”
Well, when you’re right, you’re right.
Results of the election to lead San Francisco’s wealthy but politically diminished police union are in — and, barring unforeseen lunacy, we’re going to have to do it again.
Of the 2,300-odd sworn officers, 1,703 cast a vote. Montoya received 836. Challenger Sgt. Rich Cibotti, who is being backed by ousted former POA president and consultant Gary Delagnes, received 821. A third candidate, Joe Valdez, received 46 votes. As such, no candidate reached a majority; Montoya clocked 49.1 percent.
Calls to the POA and to Montoya have not been returned. But a copy of what we believe to be the most current POA bylaws obtained by Mission Local clearly state that, in the event of “a tie or a lack of simple majority” a runoff between the top two vote-getters must be held within 15 days.
Montoya was, in essence, being primaried from the right by Cibotti. So it will be interesting to see which way the POA’s membership goes.
Under former president Chris Cunnie and, later, Delagnes, the police union prospered, going from being the 92nd-best-paid cops in California to the state’s best-compensated big-city officers. The last several years, however, have not been great — especially on matters transcending wages and benefits. As we have written before:
The POA alienated Supervisor — and later, mayor — London Breed; it has, in recent years, grown more and more politically ineffective. Its attempts to bypass the Police Commission and write its own rules regarding Tasers, Proposition H of 2018, was obliterated by a 60-40 margin, despite the police union outspending its foes by a factor of five. In 2019, some $700,000 marshaled by the POA was put into ads labeling DA candidate Chesa Boudin “The No. 1 choice of criminals and gang members.” Boudin won his race, and the POA’s negative ads were credited with galvanizing his supporters.
Delagnes has portrayed Montoya as soft, with Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer’s chant of “Fuck the POA” at Boudin’s election night gathering as proof of this. And yet, as Mission Local revealed last month, Delagnes in 2018 threatened to release the confidential police records of Fewer’s husband, retired Sgt. John Fewer. “You can tell Sandra the next time she opens her mouth, I’m going to release John’s record to the Board of Supervisors,” was Delagnes’ explanation of his June 2018 message.
Sandra Lee Fewer admitted that this action — from Delagnes — in fact loomed large in her decision to lead that chant.
Despite the POA’s heavy expenditure on anti-Boudin attack ads, Montoya said he enjoyed a productive 45-minute sit-down with the DA. Montoya, in fact, said he’s made meeting with every elected official (“except Sandy Fewer”) part of his leadership style. He talked to Mission Local prior to the election about the need for officers to receive mental health intervention training and — echoing Boudin — said that incarceration should not be the major leverage and stock-and-trade of law enforcement.
The rest of San Francisco’s so-called “City Family” will wait to see which way the police union goes. The POA’s membership will decide between a candidate who, at least, pays such ideas lip service or the candidate endorsed by Delagnes, who feels the police union has grown too soft and liberal.
And, per the bylaws, it’ll all be happening in the next two weeks.