Police Commission prepares for historic leadership
Reformist Theresa Sparks made history May 9 when she was elevated
by a 4-3 vote to head the San Francsico's Police Commission. Sparks'
elevation marks the first time in U.S. history a transgendered
woman will head a big city police commission.
By Tamara Barak
May 17, 2007
As they heard routine reports and cleaned up language in taxi
regulations at tonight's meeting, the San Francisco Police Commission
showed little hint that it was about to embark on an historic
On June 6, Commissioner Theresa Sparks will take over as president
of the civilian oversight body - making her the first transgendered
woman to head a city commission in San Francisco.
Sparks, a reformer who is working for more transparency in police
matters, was elected 4-3 at the May 9 commission meeting. Sitting
President Louise Renne promptly resigned following the vote.
Sparks, who is CEO of the San Francisco-based sex toy retailer
Good Vibrations, beat out Joe Marshall for presidency of the board.
Marshall had been Mayor Gavin Newsom's pick to head the commission.
Last week's fireworks were barely detectable at tonight's meeting,
however. Without a president of the commission, Vice President
David Campos ran the meeting.
Meanwhile, Sparks' ascent is a cause for celebration for the
Cecilia Chung, a transgendered woman who was appointed by Newsom
to the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, called Sparks' election
to president "inspiring and encouraging."
"This is quite symbolic. I believe this is a great way to
really build bridges between communities that historically have
had many misunderstandings with the Police Department," Chung
Cecilia Chung (right).
Chung said she is confidant Sparks will excel as president of
"Theresa is definitely a strong leader. Not only does she
have experience from a business and management background, but
she has been communicating and building relationships with the
front line staff at the Police Department."
While Chung hopes Sparks' public role will inspire other transgendered
people to get involved in local government, she also stressed
that Sparks earned her new position through her qualifications.
"I think Theresa and I share the same sentiment that in
an ideal world, (the fact that she is transgendered) wouldn't
have any significance.
In an ideal world, everyone would have the same chance to lead
by their abilities and qualifications," she said.
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