Breed still on ballot as ‘acting mayor’

Election officials say they can't change her ballot designation without a court order

Unless someone goes to court to demand a change, Sup. London Breed will appear on the June Ballot as “acting mayor.”

John Arntz, head of the Department of Elections, has rejected a challenge from District Five resident Karen Fishkin, who argued earlier in January that Breed couldn’t list the “acting” job because she was never elected mayor.

Breed is on the ballot as ‘acting mayor,’ a job she no longer holds

After the Board of Supes elected Mark Farrell as interim mayor, Fishkin again appealed to the department, saying that Breed was no longer acting mayor and that the ballot designation was misleading.

In a follow-up sent Jan 25, Fishkin argued that “it would be highly misleading to allow London Breed to claim to the voters on the official ballot that her current public office is “acting mayor,” since it is an office she no longer occupies.”

Within less than 24 hours, Arntz replied: “The Department of Elections cannot change a ballot designation after the statutory deadline has passed, except through a court order.”

So it’s possible that in June, people will go to the polls and see Breed described as acting mayor, even though she left that job in January.

Also today, the first super-PAC, unlimited independent expenditure committee was created for the June election. It’s called “It’ Our Time: Women Supporting London Breed,” and the principal officer is Andrea Shorter. The treasurer is Andrew Sinn, who works for 50+1 Strategies, an Oakland political consulting firm that has worked for numerous San Francisco candidates.

The group reports no funding yet. But if Ron Conway is involved, it will have all the money it needs to attack Breed’s opponents, which is what these IEs typically do.

Mark Leno called on Breed and all candidates to reject super-PAC funding:

“Now that the first Super PAC has been created, it’s time to take a stand, and I sincerely hope Supervisor Breed will join me in rejecting the corrupting influence of Super PACs,” said Leno. “Hopefully all candidates can agree that we’ve had enough of billionaires throwing money around in San Francisco politics. Deep-pocketed donors have enough power, and the candidates should stand together to put the power back in the hands of the people fighting to make San Francisco affordable for everyone.”

Sup. Jane Kim has signed off on the pledge to reject and denounce super-PAC funding. Breed so far has not.

18 COMMENTS

  1. Except the mistake was not listing the ‘acting mayor’ designation in the first place. Somebody let her know after the deadline that she could get away with it.

    Is it her decision to make at this point?

  2. I guess she wouldn’t….unless she was honest and did not want to take advantage of a mistake. Oh wait, what am I thinking?

  3. In the Jan 19th post, a scan of Breed’s application shows “acting mayor/supervisor”. So a voter should see supervisor in her occupation. As a hypothetical, what if Farrell is long term incapacitated(heaven forbid) in Feb? Would two wrongs make a right?

    As you discovered here, writing laws that are totally unambiguous is about as impossible as writing software that has no bugs. Language(natural, computer, mathematic) is a human construct that imperfectly models physical reality.

  4. But it’s not a lie she was ‘acting mayor’ when she filed to run. She did list herself as ‘supervisor’ and I believe she will have a dual designation.

    It’s a legal matter along the lines you’ve proposed when you said ‘virtue of succession.’ But there are other legal issues:

    Why was Breed allowed to change her designation after the deadline?
    Who at DOE allowed Breed’s associate access to make the change?
    Was Breed’s office contacted by the DOE?
    Has the DOE shown favoritism?

    It’s a black eye for DOE, and we deserve a better explanation.

  5. Hahaha. I agree! I’m just saying I am sure there are people in her campaign saying “hey you know that local news mentions “mayor Farrell” five times a day?” Are you sure you want to lie to people on the ballot after 5 months of that?

  6. Not buying that it cuts both ways. It’s clearly an advantage for Breed to keep the designation.

    You think she woke in the middle of the night, suddenly realizing she needed to ammend her paperwork? Somebody else caught it and saved her butt — two days after the filing deadline.

  7. She is not Acting Mayor, so it is confusing and misleading. I guess she wanted “incumbent” or “mayor” to appear next to her name if she WAS the interim mayor, but she was never named interim mayor, never took the oath and has already been replaced by an official interim mayor appointed by the board.

    Now, imagine if the mayor’s office did something really really publicly stupid between now and June. She’d prob wish her designation wasn’t “Acting Mayor.” It can cut both ways. Does she want voters to not know she is D5 Supe and Prez of the Board? Seems very odd for things to continue this way.

  8. I agree. At the time it seemed like, what else could one do? She was acting mayor, it was possible she would be replaced by the board, but also possible she would not, which is why I think the elections dept allowed her to go forward with that designation.

    However the designation should be changed and I would hope she would want it changed.

  9. The question becomes whether holding a seat that is an elected position counts, or they meant you actually had to be elected into that seat.

    You can go through most of SF’s codes and and find similar ambiguity.

    What I don’t see happening is the city attorney declaring she misrepresented her role, or a judge throwing her off the ballot as a result of this.

    The ballot should be changed. Breed should want it changed.

  10. Update I found the code section http://www.sos.ca.gov/administration/regulations/current-regulations/elections/ballot-designations/

    It doesn’t say anything about “acting” offices that a candidate was not appointed or elected to. I am not sure whether there is a legal argument that an “acting” mayor is appointed by virtue of line of succession.

    it does say “If the candidate holds elected office and is submitting his or her
    proposed ballot designation pursuant to Elections Code Section 13107,
    subdivisions (a)(1) or (a)(2), the candidate shall indicate the elective
    office he or she currently occupies and may attach a copy of his or her
    Certificate of Election”

    …. shall indicate the ELECTIVE OFFICE CURRENTLY OCCUPIES. Seems like that could not be Acting Mayor, it should be District 5 Supervisor, because that was the office she was elected to occupy.

    So the question is whether someone can claim to hold “elective” office if they were not elected or appointed to the position but via line of succession. The answer, according to Director of Elections on 1/20 was “Yes.”

    If that was all factually true at the time of filing, then it is not misleading. The next question is, what happens if that changes AFTER the filing. Clearly, the current ballot designation IS misleading and not factual. But what happens now? Are these things set in stone?

    What I’ve read says it would require a court order to change at this point.

  11. So wait a minute. The original SF Gate story about this was published on Jan 20. Farrell was appointed official interim mayor in January 23. The story says that on Jan 19, sf elections accepted Breed’s ballot designation of “acting mayor” because at that time she was acting mayor.

    Two things:

    1. Allegedly, CA election code says that candidates can only list designations of office in which they were elected or appointed. It’s hard to find that citation on my phone. Can anyone corroborate?

    2. London Breed is definitely NOT acting mayor as of Jan 23, so leaving this ballot des. IS very misleading, it is simply false.

    So how can it remain on the ballot? I’m confused.

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