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California’s new secretary of state, Kevin Shelley, has tapped San Francisco Deputy City Attorney Randy Riddle to be general counsel. “This seemed like a very exciting opportunity,” said Riddle, currently chief of the city attorney’s government litigation team. “I’ve done election law in the past as a deputy city attorney, and that’s one of the primary areas the secretary of state is involved in.” Deputy City Attorney Wayne Snodgrass, a member of the government litigation team, will take over as its chief, Riddle said. Friday marks the last day of Riddle’s roughly 15-year presence at the city attorney’s office, a tenure that was interrupted once when he “decided to do something a little different for a while.” He worked for the Republic of Palau — a group of islands about 500 miles from the Philippines — as one of two legal counsel in its national senate, from 1995 to 1998, he said. At the city attorney’s office, Riddle headed the five-member section of the government team that defends city ordinances, policies, procedures and administrative proceedings against legal challenges. For example, the group defended the city’s rent-control ordinance, as well as an equal-benefits law that requires companies doing business with the city to offer gay and lesbian domestic partners the same benefits as married couples. In addition to working on the legal issues that arise in the secretary of state’s election, business and political reform divisions, Riddle said he’s looking forward to renewing a working relationship with Shelley, a former San Francisco supervisor and state assemblyman, who took office in January. “I knew Secretary Shelley from his days on the Board of Supervisors,” said Riddle, a Golden Gate University School of Law graduate. “I worked on a number of projects for him,” he said, including the city’s Sunshine Ordinance. In about five years in the city attorney’s office — all spent on the government litigation team — Snodgrass, a graduate of Boalt Hall School of Law, said he has handled several cases involving the First Amendment and open-meeting laws. Riddle praised the office that he’s leaving behind, calling it a “tremendous place to work” and emphasized that he has made many friends and has had many opportunities there. “Randy Riddle has been a top-notch lawyer and invaluable asset to San Francisco for many years, and our disappointment in seeing him depart the city attorney’s office is ameliorated only in the knowledge that his skill and dedication will now benefit all Californians,” City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement. A spokesperson at the secretary of state’s office was unavailable for comment by press time.

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