SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco's newest supervisor says his background and experience will help him address some of the city's biggest issues. Matt Dorsey attended his first Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday morning just one day after being sworn into office.
Dorsey took his first votes as the city's newest supervisor for District 6. Dorsey is no stranger to City Hall, having worked on the staff of former City Attorney Dennis Herrera. "I started work here over 20 years ago, and I never thought I would be a member of the Board of Supervisors here," said Supervisor Dorsey.
Supervisor Dorsey's district includes a portion of the city's South of Market neighborhood, one of the areas in the city facing the challenges of homelessness, mental illness and open air drug use. "If we could pick one issue to make progress on, getting people who are active in their addiction on the other side of it, into rehab into recovery I think we would see progress on things like retail theft and auto burglaries," said Supervisor Dorsey.
The supervisor says his background as a recovering addict himself gives him a unique insight into the issue. Supervisor Dorsey says his experiences working for San Francisco's Police Department, including a regular call with the Medical Examiner’s Office opened his eyes to the human toll addiction and mental health struggles were having. "It's the monthly death call, it's the number of people over the last month that died from drug overdoses."
Supervisor Dorsey said at around the time the mayor issued the Tenderloin emergency order in December, he realized that he could help look for long term political solutions; including what he calls a right to recovery plan, looking to eliminate any obstacles to getting people to enter and stick with treatment programs. He's also looking to propose what he calls a sober new deal, putting former addicts to work.
"I feel very strongly that the solution to our shortage of drug counselors are the people who are doing drugs right now in the Tenderloin. Let's get them on the other side of their disease and let’s get them on solving the problem," said Supervisor Dorsey.
Until last month South of Market and the city's Tenderloin were part of one supervisory district. New redistricting has put the Tenderloin into District 5, with Dean Preston as the supervisor. Supervisor Preston says he looks forward to working with the city's newest supervisor on issues that impact the adjoining neighborhoods. "How do we bridge some of the divides that were created through this redistricting process, and make sure that these two neighborhoods that have worked so closely together for so many years can continue to do so and have support both from his office and from mine," said Supervisor Preston.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed appointed Dorsey to serve out the remainder of Matt Haney's term, after Haney won a seat in the state Assembly. Supervisor Dorsey says he is already preparing to run for a full term in November.