Last night was a rollercoaster for political wonks and hardcore progressives in San Francisco, and for everyone else it was just another local election. Most notably, former Board of Supervisors president Aaron Peskin returns to the Board after a six-year absence in a victory many are calling a referendum on the mayor and city's slip toward too much big-business friendliness. Peskin's return will mark a shift in the political balance on the Board, adding one more vote back to what's known as the "progressive bloc," giving the city's more liberal side the 6-5 advantage going into next year a year in which we'll see much higher voter turnout during a presidential election, as well as six Board seats up in the air.
As the Chron reports, Peskin and his opponent, incumbent mayoral appointee Julie Christensen, were longtime friends until this election came along. Christensen said of the result, "I’ll miss getting stuff done. I’ll miss my colleagues on the board and my good friends that was the best part."
Also, as was expected following a 2012 scandal involving his wife and a video alleging domestic violence or at the very least a bruise on the arm and a bad temper Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi lost his reelection for sheriff. This is actually a victory for the mayor and tech-world supporters like Ron Conway who helped support the campaign of his main rival, Vicki Hennessy, who took over 60 percent of the vote. Hennessy, as you may recall, served as interim sheriff during Mirkarimi's scandal-related suspension (and the New York Times and others are also crediting the sanctuary city scandal as helping Hennessy win).
Mayor Lee won his reelection, though not with as wide a margin and he'd probably hoped, taking only 56 percent of the vote while his woefully under-funded challengers took an impressive 44 percent of votes away from him. That means they came within seven percent of causing the ranked-choice system from going into effect, which likely has the Lee camp a little worried.
But back in the good news column for Lee, and the bad news column for the city's recharged progressives, the two big progressive-backed propositions, F (the Airbnb thing) and I (the Mission moratorium) both got voted down. Prop F was voted down by 55 percent, as the Chronicle reports, thanks in large part to the $8 million ad campaign against it funded by Airbnb and supporters are vowing to bring it back to the table in 2016.
Airbnb spokesperson Christopher Nulty released an official statement calling the vote "a decisive victory for the middle class."
Prop I, meanwhile, also failed to get a majority, with 57 percent of voters saying no, as KQED reports. SFist spoke to Supervisor David Campos, who backed the measure, at the Mission progressive-HQ election party (i.e. El Rio) last night, and he said, "The fact that [the moratorium] was on the ballot, and the fact that we got it to this point, is a victory... The development community spent a lot of money against Prop I, and I think the fact that they spent as much as they did tells you that they're really scared... We're not gonna give up on this city without a fight, and the next fight will be next year. I don't know exactly what will be on the ballot, but it'll be something."
The mayor's affordable housing bond initiative, Prop A, passed overwhelmingly to no one's surprise, and everyone seemed to get the message about Props G and H, with the PG&E-backed G going down in flames, and H passing with a large majority.
And in a victory for progressives, the little talked-about Prop J, the (potentially expensive) fund to help preserve legacy businesses that have been in operation over 30 years, passed by a decent margin too. This will, as the Business Times notes, provide grants of up to $500 per full time employee per year to legacy businesses, as well as additional grants to their landlords of up to $4.50 per square foot of leased space if they extend long-term leases to the businesses.
Overall voter turnout, as you can see here, was a dismal 29.6 percent, with only 15 percent showing up at the polls, and the other half voting by mail.
Below, the rundown of results. See more detailed results here.
Mayor - Ed Lee (68% after ranked choice round 2)
Sheriff - Vicki Hennessy (65% after ranked choice round 2)
District 3 Supervisor - Aaron Peskin (53%)
Community College Board - Alex Randolph (48%)
Prop A, Affordable Housing Bond - YES (73%)
Prop B, Family Leave - YES (66%)
Prop C, Expenditure Lobbyists - YES (75%)
Prop D, Mission Rock Building Height - YES (73%)
Prop E, Meetings Broadcasts - NO (67%)
Prop F, Airbnb Thing - NO (55%)
Prop G - NO (77%)
Prop H - YES (80%)
Prop I, Mission Moratorium - NO (57%)
Prop J, Legacy Businesses - YES (57%)
Prop K, Surplus Public Land - YES (73%)