Campaign Trail

Sup. Brown concedes in D5 election

It's official: Dean Preston will take office in December.

Five days after the results made clear that Dean Preston has been elected supervisor, incumbent Sup. Vallie Brown has conceded.

Brown called Preston this morning and told him she was not going to ask for a recount or contest the close election.

It’s official: Dean Preston will take office in December.

“She congratulated me on my victory and I thanked her for her years of service to the city,” Preston said. “With the campaign now officially over we are moving full-steam ahead with the transition.”

The Department of Elections still has to certify the results, which could take a couple of weeks. That means Preston will likely be sworn in and take his seat in early-to-mid December.

In the meantime, he will need to hire staff, prepare for the job – and get ready for the next campaign. Since Preston is technically filling the term that London Breed was elected to in 2016, he will be back on the ballot in November 2020.

The future of SF politics

Chesa Boudin offered a race-based overhaul of the criminal-justice system.

If you spent any time in the headquarters of the campaigns for Chesa Boudin or Dean Preston, if you spent any time on the streets with the volunteers, if you stopped by their election-night parties, then you’d have noticed:

The two candidates won on the ground. These were grassroots efforts, in both cases up against big money that went to mail and TV ads.

And the people who made it happen, to a great extent, were young, diverse, excited about progressive change – and the future of San Francisco politics.

It’s really exciting.

Chesa Boudin offered a race-based overhaul of the criminal-justice system.

I couldn’t reach Boudin on Saturday night, when it was clear he was winning; he was out of town, visiting his father in prison. But he sent me this statement:

When we started this campaign, we believed that the people of San
Francisco wanted a different vision of justice. We believed they
valued second chances for those who have made mistakes, prized
compassion over punishment, and wanted equal justice for all,
regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, and citizenship.  We
were right. In voting for this campaign, the residents of San
Francisco have demanded radical change and rejected calls to go back
to the tough-on-crime era that did not make us safer and destroyed the
lives of thousands of San Franciscans.

There can be no justice when we utilize prison and jail as the
solution to all of our problems. We must think differently. We will
think differently. I am so humbled by the groundswell of support we’ve
received from all parts of the city, from people of all races and of
all classes, throughout the campaign and with your votes. I promise
you that we will not waiver as we work to make sure that San Francisco
treats everyone with the human dignity that we all deserve. Thank you,
and onward.

Preston won, it’s worth noting, with the ranked-choice voting system. He was narrowly ahead in the first-place votes, but the second choices of two minor candidates took him to a clear victory. Boudin got enough first-place votes that the RCV didn’t matter, even though the supporters of the two lowest-ranking candidates, Leif Dautch and Nancy Tung, were slightly favorable to Suzy Loftus.

Dean Preston won with the RCV system

Would Preston or Boudin have won in a December runoff, with far lower turnout – and all of the power of the Breed Administration, the police, the real-estate industry and other interests pushing to block the two progressives?

I don’t know. Jane Kim won the primary over Scott Wiener for state Senate. Then Wiener’s team launched a nasty campaign of negative ads and cranked up the big money, and Kim lost the general.

Worth thinking about.

We have not yet heard a statement from the Mayor’s Office. But the results are a clear defeat for Mayor London Breed, and suggest that she is going to have to work with the progressives – instead of trying to use sleazy tactics to undermine them– if she is going to get anything done.

People who generally believe that the big tech companies should be regulated and taxed, that that office developers should pay for the costs of the housing impacts that they create, that the city can play a much larger role in providing mental-health services, that the criminal-justice system is totally broken … they are now in the majority at City Hall, and they clearly have the support of the voters.

And yet: The mayor does not seem yet to have gotten the message. On Thursday/14, the Rules Committee will consider the mayor’s poison-pill mental health measure. The committee can’t block the proposal – the mayor has the authority to put anything on the ballot with just her signature.

But the committee will be able to discuss the problem with two competing measures that will (perhaps intentionally on the mayor’s part) confuse the votes.

As Sups. Matt Haney and Hillary Ronen, who have worked for a year to craft an effective proposal on mental-health services, said after the mayor put her plan on the ballot:

We have been working with nurses, psychiatrists, front-line mental health workers and conservators on drafting Mental Health SF for more than a year now. And we are proud that this collaboration has resulted in decisive legislation rooted in common sense that will fix our broken system and get people with mental illness off the streets and into care.

We’ve repeatedly asked the Mayor’s Office to engage with us and to move forward with shared legislation to address the mental health crisis. But the repeated walking away from the table and unexpected announcements from the Mayor and DPH are frustrating, and the people of San Francisco are fed up with it.

We are glad to see that the Mayor is finally prioritizing mental health reform. Unfortunately, rather than join us on Mental Health SF, the Mayor is creating confusion by putting forth a dueling ballot measure that does only a fraction of what Mental Health SF will do.

While the Mayor’s initiative puts forward a much-needed expansion of our struggling mental health system—which we wholeheartedly support— it just doesn’t go far enough. This initiative is the same incremental set of policies that DPH and the Mayor announced three weeks ago as “Heal our City,” now repackaged as a poison pill legislation they are calling “Urgent Care SF.”

What makes Mental Health SF so effective is that it will hold City Hall accountable and make sure that city departments are enacting structural changes that will stop mentally ill people from being abandoned on our street— the Mayor’s initiative just gives more money to the same people who have already failed us.

There are significant differences between our two ballot initiatives:

First, the Mayor’s initiative only serves severely mentally ill people who are already on the street.

Mental Health SF also address the crisis on our streets by getting people with mental illness out of homelessness and into care, but it goes even further. Mental Health SF stops the cycle of new people slipping into homelessness, by providing services to the severely mentally ill who don’t have insurance before they become homeless. Serving the mentally ill becomes even more difficult once they are on the street, and Mental Health SF stops this cycle.

Second, the Mayor’s initiative is mostly focused on spending more money on the same programs that have more often than not failed to keep people with mental illness off the street.

Mental Health SF, however, creates oversight to prevent overspending and uses solid data to determine where money should be allocated. Mental Health SF creates an implementation working group that will study where we’re spending too much money and where we need to reinvest. We need an expansion of our mental health system, but we also need oversight and common sense. Mental Health SF does both.

Third, the Mayor is relying on the same bureaucrats at DPH who have been mismanaging this department and failing at addressing the crisis on our streets for years to regulate themselves.

Mental Health SF was drafted with front-line workers, nurses, psychiatrists, mental health experts, and with direct input from the service providers who work with people who are suffering on the streets.

We once again offer to sit down with the Mayor to work out a compromise and address any concerns she may have with our initiative. We would be happy to work together to create one ballot initiative that truly addresses the problems in the Department of Public Health.

But the Mayor’s stalling and political gamesmanship is not going to do anything to solve the crisis on our streets. Big problems need big solutions, and that’s unfortunately not what’s being offered here.”

Sup. Aaron Peskin is taking direct aim at commercial landlords who are holding property off the market. It’s a growing problem in the neighborhoods – instead of leasing out space, the owners are presumably waiting for even more gentrification to drive up prices even more.

Peskin wants to place a measure on the March ballot that would impose

An excise tax on persons keeping ground floor commercial space in neighborhood commercial districts or neighborhood commercial transit districts vacant, to fund assistance to small businesses.

The Budget and Finance Committee will consider that measure Wednesday/13 at 10am.

Preston, Boudin are winners as vote-count nears finish

Dean Preston and Chesa Boudin won stunning victories for progressives.

With all but a handful of ballots counted, Dean Preston declared victory today in the D5 supes race and Chesa Boudin was far enough ahead in the district attorney’s race that he’s certain to be the winner.

With only 1,200 votes still to count, Boudin is ahead by 2,439 votes. Preston is ahead by 170 votes.

Dean Preston and Chesa Boudin won stunning victories for progressives. Photo by Ebbe Roe Yovino-Smith.

“Today is a victory for all San Franciscans seeking bolder answers for the challenges our city faces,” Preston said in a statement released a few minutes after today’s result were posted. “This was a hard-fought election and I am so grateful for the long hours of volunteer effort and grassroots, community support that brought our campaign across the finish line. But now the campaign is over, and I am ready and eager to begin serving our city as soon as possible.”

We are still awaiting statements from Brown, Boudin, and incumbent DA Suzy Loftus.

The results are a stunning victory for progressives, particularly in a low-turnout election – and a major defeat for Mayor London Breed.

Breed, of course, won re-election without any serious opposition – although when you consider that almost 27,000 people didn’t cast a vote for mayor, she won only 60 percent of the vote. That means 40 percent of the voters cast a ballot for one of the minor candidates who had non name recognition and no serious campaigns or didn’t vote for mayor at all. That’s not exactly a mandate.

But the mayor went all-in promoting Brown and Loftus. She campaigned with Brown, and went so far as to appoint Loftus to the interim job just weeks before the election, allowing Loftus to run as an incumbent.

Mayors in San Francisco typically don’t have a lot of coat-tails – but these results are still remarkable. With no serious opponent of her own, Breed spent her time pushing for her allies, and the voters rejected those candidates.

Preston ran as a democratic socialist (and is the first person elected with that affiliation since Harry Britt in 1980). He also ran – very specifically – as someone who would stand up to the mayor and her agenda.

Boudin ran as a criminal-justice reformer while Loftus moved in her first days on the job to present herself as a law-and-order candidate.

It’s also a major defeat for the Police Officers Association, which spent more than $650,000 on ads attacking Boudin. I think a lot of that effort backfired; the DA race was fairly low-key for much of the fall, but when the cops started putting out vicious, Trump-style attack ads, a lot of voters decided that a candidate the POA opposed was worth supporting.

The POA’s political clout has been declining in this city for the past few years. Now, the results suggest, the POA is just political poison.

Preston and Boudin presented campaigns that argued the current administration is going in the wrong direction – on housing, on economic inequality, on criminal justice. And the voters agreed.

That’s going to define local politics for the next few years.

Boudin now in the lead, Preston still ahead

Chesa Boudin offered a race-based overhaul of the criminal-justice system.

Well, my fuzzy math wasn’t all bad.

I predicted last night that if the trends from the past day continued, Chesa Boudin would be in the lead in the DA’s race:

Here’s the (very, very sketchy) math for the DA’s race. Over the 32,000 ballots counted today, Boudin picked up 1,326 votes. If that exact trend continues over the next 25,000 votes, he would pick up 1,035 more – enough to put him ahead by 156 votes. Not counting the provisionals.

Guess what? Boudin is up by 156 votes. Exactly.

Chesa Boudin offered a race-based overhaul of the criminal-justice system.

I didn’t do as well in D5, where I predicted Dean Preston would pick up an additional 88 votes. He’s still just 35 votes ahead.

But the bottom line is that, with virtually all of the vote-by-mail ballots counted, the progressive candidates are in the lead.

There are still 1,500 VBM ballots to count, but it seems highly unlikely the trends of those votes will change dramatically.

Then it comes down to the provisional ballots. There are about 2,107 of those in D5, and 13,000 citywide.

Again: If they reflect the same trends of the past two days, then Boudin and Preston will be elected. But we have no idea whether that will happen.

Still: What an amazing week for progressive candidates, up against huge sums of real-estate and police money, and it now appears possible that they will both emerge victorious.

We will know tomorrow at 4pm how the provisionals are breaking.

Late ballots break in progressive direction

Volunteers crowded into Dean Preston's headquarters to do last-minute GOTV.

The VBM ballots counted today are breaking much more the way the Election-Day votes did: Dean Preston is now 35 votes ahead of Sup. Vallie Brown in D5, and Chesa Boudin is only 879 votes behind interim District Attorney Suzy Loftus.

In fact, Boudin is 3,726 votes ahead of Loftus in the first-place round – a clear signal that a sizable number of San Franciscans want dramatic change in the criminal-justice system.

Volunteers crowded into Dean Preston’s headquarters to do last-minute GOTV.

But under the ranked-choice voting system, Loftus pulls ahead as the second-place votes from two more traditional law-and-order candidates are slightly favoring her.

But the trends are looking good for both progressive candidates.

There are, the Department of Elections says, about 38,000 more votes to count – 25,000 vote-by-mail ballots that were either dropped off on Election Day or have just arrived from the Post Office, and 13,000 provisional ballots. Department of Elections Director John Arntz says that 1,880 of the provisional ballots are from D5.

If you voted by mail (or dropped off a VBM ballot) and want to be sure it was properly processed, you can track your ballot at this link.It’s going to be very, very close, and every single vote is going to count.

If the remaining 25,000 break the same way that these did, it will put Preston further ahead. He picked up 123 votes out of (my guess) about 3,200 counted in D5. (The DOE counted 32,000 votes today. If they were evenly distributed through the districts, that would be 2,900 per district. It’s safe to assume that D5 is running at least 5 percent higher than average; it’s always a high-turnout district and the supes race may push it further.) That exact trend would give Preston another 88-vote advantage when the remaining VBM votes are counted.

We have no idea what will happen with the provisionals.

Here’s the (very, very sketchy) math for the DA’s race. Over the 32,000 ballots counted today, Boudin picked up 1,326 votes. If that exact trend continues over the next 25,000 votes, he would pick up 1,035 more – enough to put him ahead by 156 votes. Not counting the provisionals.

These margins are so tiny, and the trends so unpredictable, that my numbers are by no means reliable.

But the direction of the votes so far is positive for the progressive candidates.

Latest ballots are trending conservative

Mayor London Breed outside Sup. Vallie Brown's headquarters

The first round of Election-Day vote-by-mail ballots have shown a shift to the conservative side. It’s not as pronounced as the first-round VBM, but the 16,000 votes counted today have put Sup. Vallie Brown on top in D5 and given interim DA Suzy Loftus more of a lead in the district attorney’s race.

Mayor London Breed outside Sup. Vallie Brown’s headquarters

With the ranked-choice voting algorithm, Brown is now ahead of Preston by 88 votes. The second-place votes of the other two candidates continue to break in Preston’s favor, but Brown is getting more first-place votes.

Chesa Boudin still leads in the first-place votes – a remarkable statement from local voters who clearly want major criminal-justice reform. But the RCV count puts Loftus ahead by 2,205 votes.

It’s worth noting that while Mayor Breed, according to the Chron and KQED, breezed to a powerful victory, only about 60 percent of the people who went to the polls voted for her. More than 15,000 people voted in the election but didn’t vote for anyone for mayor. Given that she had no credible opposition and nobody with any serious money or campaign against her, 60 percent doesn’t seem like a huge mandate.

The votes that were counted today, according to the Department of Elections, were ballots that arrived in the mail this morning. That meant they were dropped in mailboxes a day or two ago.

It’s not clear at this point where the remaining 57,000 VBM ballots and 13,000 provisional ballots come from and whether they will be more like the Election Day voters or like the most recent VBMs.

But we will need at least another day or two before we can say what the final results will look like.

Now then: I don’t want to dignify this with its own story, since it’s not a story, but because the Chron, the Ex, and KQED are making a big deal of it, let me just say:

The reports on Sup. Sandra Lee Fewer’s Fuck the POA chant are a big deal about nothing. (And why does the Chron still use F—? As if anyone under 50 even reads that paper. Note to editors: We have all seen the word Fuck before.)

The reports on this non-story just got the POA leadership all agitated and gave them a chance to attack Fewer (who has been married for 35 years to an SF cop).

Fewer released a statement today which reads:

Dear Rank-and-File Members of the San Francisco Police Department,

It has been brought to my attention that the comments that I made last night, directed at the leadership of the Police Officers Association, were construed as an insult and an attack on the members of the San Francisco Police Department.

As this was not at all my intent, I would like to issue an apology to the 2,000 officers of the San Francisco Police Department; I am sorry for any offense that my comments may have caused.

As most of you may know, my husband served for 35 years as a San Francisco police officer and is a five-time Medal of Valor recipient. I deeply respect the work that he and his fellow officers have done and continue to do on a daily basis. The job that police officers perform is honorable, respected and necessary. I want to take this moment to thank and appreciate each of you for what you do every day to keep San Francisco safe. I apologize if my comments were misinterpreted to be an attack on you, as individual officers. That could not be further from the truth. I know and understand how difficult the job is and am deeply appreciative of your service.

That said, I cannot apologize for my comments last night directed at the leadership of the Police Officers Association (POA).

The leadership of the POA— which is referred to as a union although not recognized as such by the AFL-CIO— has had a long and sordid history of opposing police reforms, publishing explicitly racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric, and directly threatening their critics, including my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors, myself and my husband, and its own members. This organization has and continues to incite fear in our city— contrary to the mission and goals of our own police department.

As a family who has paid POA membership dues for 35 years, I cannot stay silent and condone the behavior of the organization’s leadership. Their latest campaign materials against a DistrictAttorney candidate are just the most recent example of the organization’s tone-deaf and poisonous rhetoric attempting to influence city elections. There is simply no room for this type of Trumpian bullying and fearmongering in San Francisco politics.

Yes, I used profanity in my comments about the POA, but quite frankly, I don’t think it is language that we have not heard before. However, if that language has offended you, the members of the San Francisco Police Department, I deeply apologize.

This is a story?

The real story, Fewer told me tonight, is that “progressives are alive and well” and San Francisco voters have given a stunning amount of support to a public defender running for DA on a platform of profound criminal-justice reform.

I await the Chronicle story on that.

Really close races, and we won’t know for days

With all the precincts counted, it’s really, really close.

Dean Preston is ahead in D5 by 95 votes. Chesa Boudin is ahead in the DA’s race by a little more than 2,000 votes.

None of these results are final. There are going to be thousands of ballots – mostly VBM ballots dropped off on Election Day – still to be counted.

Then there are the provisional votes. And then the city has to run the ranked-choice voting algorithm.

Interestingly, in the first-pass RCV run, most of the votes from the two minor candidates in D5 went to Preston. Not a lot of votes, but Preston took about 200 votes more than Brown did when Ryan Lam and Namvula O’Meara were eliminated.

If the race is really close, that could matter.

So we are all going to have to wait a few more days for the final results.

Election-day results shift dramatically in progressive direction

Dean Preston is now ahead

Election-day results are very dramatic: Dean Preston is now ahead in D5, and Chesa Boudin is ahead in the DA’s race.

In fact, Preston has won almost 57 percent of the Election Day vote so far. That’s a huge figure, and if it holds up as the rest of the results come in, it could be a major victory for the grassroots effort of the challenger.

Dean Preston is now ahead

We don’t know yet how many votes were case on Election Day, but the early results suggest that the stories about Brown’s eviction of tenants may have played a role – that news wasn’t out when the first votes were cast.

“It’s obviously close and we are riding each wave,” Preston told us. “But I had the best ground game I could ever ask for. Hundreds of volunteers on the streets.”

Hundreds of people were packed into the Preston party at Noir bar, and a deafening cheer went up when the latest figures came in.

Chesa Boudin is now in the lead in the district attorney’s race. Again, that suggests a very strong progressive vote on Election Day.

That’s also reflected in Prop. A moving past 66 percent.

First results look very conservative

Dean Preston is behind in early voting which appears very much leaning to the right.

Now, a bit late, we have preliminary results. These are from the 69,000 people who voted by mail early. It’s hard to tell what exactly will happen until we know how many people voted on Election Day, but here’s what it looks like so far:

Dean Preston is behind in early voting which appears very much leaning to the right.

Sup. Vallie Brown leads challenger Dean Preston by 667 votes, 3,443 to 2,776. That’s a big percentage, but not a lot of votes.

Suzy Loftus is ahead in the district attorney’s race with 28.8 percent of the vote, and Chesa Boudin is in second with 22.9. But in the preliminary ranked-choice voting run, Loftus comes in first and Nancy Tung is in second.

Proposition A, which needs 66 percent, it pretty close at 63 percent. Given how conservative this early vote total looks, that’s probably good news.

Everything else is over.

Prop. C, the Juul measure to overturn the city’s ban on selling vaping products, has lost. Prop. The Uber tax has passed. The teacher housing measure has passed. The dark-money measure has passed.

So now it’s all about what the Election-Day votes show in D5 and the DA’s race.

Election night: Ballot problems in D5

Mayor London Breed outside Sup. Vallie Brown's headquarters

Out in front of Sup. Vallie Brown’s headquarters this afternoon, Mayor London Breed was giving her pitch. With a lone TV camera in place, she said she wanted voters to support her candidates, Brown and interim District Attorney Suzy Loftus, because she wanted people who could “work together.”

Mayor London Breed outside Sup. Vallie Brown’s headquarters

That means people who can work with her and support her agenda.

She made a pitch for Prop. A, the affordable housing bond, and then said that money wasn’t the only problem – the city makes it too difficult to build housing

A few blocks away, challenger Dean Preston’s headquarters was a hub of activity. There’s nothing quite like the controlled chaos of a grassroots campaign on Election Night, and it was in full force – volunteers walking in and out, grabbing signs and voter-ID folders.

Volunteers crowded into Dean Preston’s headquarters to do last-minute GOTV

Both sides know what’s at stake – and both know that this election will be determined by turnout. It’s hard to get the voters to the polls when there’s no major national or statewide race – or even a contested mayor’s race – at the top of the ticket.

To make things more complicated, the D5 election operation was at best a little screwed up. Both sides reported to me that there were polling places with non D5 ballots. In one precinct, the D5 ballots didn’t arrive until 10am, after more than 40 voters had cast their ballots (without voting for a candidate for supervisor). In another precinct, a closed-down voting site sent voters across district lines to a place where there were, of course, no D5 ballots.

“We have reports of issues all over the district,” Jen Snyder, who is helping manage the Preston campaign, told me. “Polling places moved outside the district, power down until 9am, citywide ballots missing the D5 race.”

Brown agreed: “We have heard a lot of reports, and we have had to call the Department of Elections to make sure the ballots are in the right place,” she told me outside her headquarters.

I wanted to ask the mayor about that – and about whether she would sign and support the jobs-housing balance legislation by Sup. Matt Haney, which could bring in more money from developers than Prop. A will bring in from taxpayers.

But she refused to answer our questions and walked quickly away.

Breed knows that she will win re-election and serve another four years as mayor. She also knows that the outcome of the race for D5 supe and for district attorney will be in part a referendum on her administration.

Among the Vallie Brown and London Breed signs, a supporter of Chesa Boudin was in the back, holding up a sign that registered with the TV camera. The mayor and the supervisor, I am told, were not happy.

First results will be in around 8:45.