New lineup of S.F. supervisorsSan Francisco Chronicle
November 06, 2008
(11-05) 14:20 PST SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco voters seem to have kept the current political makeup of their Board of Supervisors, as they chose new leaders in three critical races, while two incumbents who faced no significant opposition held onto their seats.
Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi in District Five and Sean Elsbernd in District Seven won big in their bids for re-election Tuesday night. With 100 percent of the precincts counted, Mirkarimi won with 77 percent of the vote. Elsbernd won with more than 69 percent on the vote. In three hotly contested races between moderate and more liberal candidates, the further left candidates appeared to be holding on to the seats vacated by three termed-out supervisors of the same political faction.
A moderate victory in two or more would mean a board more aligned with the mayor. That is something absent in city politics since 2000, when several of the termed-out supervisors - like Aaron Peskin, Jake McGoldrick and Gerardo Sandoval - were first elected, but more liberal candidates were leading in all three of those districts.
The final outcome might not be known for several days, however, because of San Francisco’s ranked-choice voting system, which ensures a candidate with more than 50 percent of the vote wins without a runoff. The winner will depend on who voters picked as their second and third choices.
Several rounds of ballot counting are necessary before elections officials can declare a winner.
With 100 percent of the vote counted, Eric Mar was leading in District One, which covers the Richmond, with 42 percent of the vote. The more moderate Sue Lee was in second with 32 percent of the vote.
In District Three, which covers North Beach, Chinatown, Telegraph Hill and Russian Hill, David Chiu led with 39 percent of the vote with 100 percent of precincts reporting. Joseph Alioto Jr. was in second with 23 percent of the vote. Chiu claimed victory in front of supporters Tuesday night.
District 11, which was the clearest battleground between moderate and more liberal forces, John Avalos, a former aide to Supervisor Chris Daly, was leading with 30 percent of the vote. Ahsha Safai, a former aide to Mayor Gavin Newsom, had 24 percent of the vote.
Incumbent Supervisor Carmen Chu was just above the 50 percent mark with 100 percent of precincts counted. Challenger Ron Dudum had 36 percent of the vote.
And in District Nine, which was a contest to represent the city’s most liberal district, David Campos was leading with 35 percent of the vote, followed by Mark Sanchez with 29 percent and Eric Quezada with 21 percent. All the precincts in that district have been counted.
The incumbent winners expressed their gratitude to the city’s voters.
"I’m excited and very much look forward to the next four years," said Elsbernd, who called his expected victory "a ratification of the previous four years."
Mirkarimi, who is expected to become the first Green Party candidate re-elected to office in the city, also said his win was "evidence of a strong first term."
"I’m absolutely proud to be (District Five’s) representative and shall continue to vigorously champion the needs of the people of the district and San Francisco."
The election and months-long campaigns of the host of candidates has "illustrated the San Francisco political community’s maturity vis-a-vis ranked-choice voting," said Alex Clemens, a political consultant who is not working for any of the candidates. Clemens maintains a Web site that has been closely following the various races for months.
While he has seen more candidates explicitly run for second-place spots, Clemens said predictions that this system would lead to less expensive and less hostile campaigns did not come to pass this cycle.
The final expenditures have yet to be calculated, but the cost of the races citywide - including soft-money donations - is likely to be in the several millions of dollars. Negative attack ads have proliferated in the three battleground districts.
Despite the contentious campaigns, both Mirkarimi and Elsbernd said they expect a fresh sense of collegiality to accompany the new board, whoever ends up winning.
"Hopefully we will move beyond the politics of personality to the politics of public policy," Elsbernd said.
See this article in the San Francisco Chronicle