Mayor London Breed Appoints Matt Dorsey to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors
City government veteran and acknowledged member of the substance-use recovery community will represent a district hard hit by City’s drug overdose crisis
San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed today appointed Matt Dorsey to serve on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, making him the first self-identified member of the substance use disorder recovery community to serve on the Board in a generation. The appointment comes at a time when San Francisco is experiencing an addiction and overdose crisis that is impacting many neighborhoods, including District 6.
Dorsey is a respected City government veteran who currently serves on the staff of the San Francisco Police Department as the communications director. Previously, Dorsey served for fourteen years in the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, where he worked to support groundbreaking cases around marriage equality, education access, public health, tenants rights, and worker protections. He will complete the unexpired term of former supervisor Matt Haney, who was elected to the California State Assembly last month. Dorsey is an out gay man who will join Supervisor Rafael Mandelman as the Board’s second LGBTQ member.
“Matt Dorsey is uniquely positioned to understand our city government and its current challenges — professionally and personally, from public health to public safety,” said Mayor Breed. “San Francisco needs a strong voice and forceful advocate to help lead our efforts through a drug crisis that is costing lives and devastating neighborhoods — including many in District 6. As an accomplished City government veteran, and as a member of the recovery community, Matt is ready to not only make the hard decisions, but to understand the impacts those decisions will have on people’s lives. I trust Matt to work cooperatively, creatively, and effectively to help solve the problems facing our city.”
In addition to leading on solutions around substance use and recovery, Dorsey will bring his personal and professional experience to focus on the issues impacting San Francisco and District 6, including building more housing, protecting tenants, addressing transportation and traffic congestion, supporting small businesses, advancing LGBTQ rights, and supporting San Francisco’s recovery from the pandemic.
“I am honored and humbled by the trust Mayor Breed has placed in me to serve my City and my District 6 neighbors on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors,” said Matt Dorsey. “I’m a believer in what good government can accomplish, and I intend to be a full partner with Mayor Breed and my board colleagues in governing our city responsibly, accountable, and effectively. I am also a three-time drug rehab graduate. I know well the challenges facing those, in my district and elsewhere, who grapple with substance use disorder. I believe in the promise of recovery, and I think our local government has an essential role to play in helping fulfill that promise. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve, and excited to get to work for my City.”
Dorsey served on former City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s executive staff for 14 years, whereas senior advisor and communications director he helped to lead high-profile efforts by that office on history-making cases that won marriage equality for lesbian and gay couples in California; saved City College of San Francisco from imminent closure; protected countless renters from evictions; recovered millions of dollars from predatory employers for victims of wage theft; and more. He was among the progressive slate candidates elected to a four-year term on San Francisco’s Democratic County Central Committee in 2012. As San Francisco’s only openly HIV-positive elected official during his term on the DCCC, Dorsey authored resolutions to elevate awareness for San Francisco’s “Getting to Zero” initiative and helped to defeat the controversial 2016 statewide ballot measure, Prop 60, which would have imposed draconian restrictions on the State’s adult film industry and delegitimized public health advances in pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP.
Prior to joining SFPD in 2020, Dorsey led Tobacco-Free Kids’ communications strategy for the 2019 No on Prop C campaign, soundly defeating a multimillion-dollar ballot measure by vaping giant JUUL Labs, Inc. that became the most expensive per-vote loss in San Francisco history. He is also a founding board member of the nonprofit neighborhood advocacy organization, Mid-Market Neighbors.
“This is bittersweet news for all of us in the San Francisco Police Department, but great news for the City and County of San Francisco,” said Chief of Police William Scott. “We look forward to working with Matt on the Board of Supervisors, but we will miss the thoughtful and principled leadership he brought to our staff. Matt Dorsey has earned the respect and appreciation of the men, women, and nonbinary members of SFPD for his service here. We’re grateful for the wealth of knowledge he will bring to City Hall about the public safety and police staffing challenges facing our city, and the promise of 21st century police reform. We applaud Mayor Breed’s pick, and we wish Matt well in his new public service role.”
“Matt Dorsey is an inspired choice for the Board of Supervisors, and my congratulations to Mayor Breed for recognizing how extraordinarily well matched Matt is to the challenges facing San Francisco,” said SFPUC General Manager and former City Attorney Dennis Herrera. “I’ve known and trusted Matt for more than two decades, and he is widely respected among the City government colleagues and journalists with whom he has worked over the years. He created the City Attorney’s Good Government Guide, which has become a cornerstone of ethics and Sunshine training citywide. He is a fearless champion for good government and public integrity, and I know he will work tirelessly to fight waste, fraud and abuse. San Franciscans will be well served by his leadership.”
According to monthly data reports on accidental drug overdose deaths from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood, which is part of District 6, typically ranks second or first in the number of fatal overdoses based on locations of death and victims’ residential neighborhoods. Only the Tenderloin, which is now in District 5, occasionally surpasses SOMA as a locus of San Francisco’s drug OD and open-air drug dealing crisis.
Former San Francisco Supervisor Bill Maher, who served on the Board of supervisors from 1983 to 1995, was the prior board member to publicly acknowledge his history with substance use disorder. Maher and his brother, John, founded the Delancey Street rehabilitation center in San Francisco in 1970.