Even CNN is covering today’s SF school board recall and state assembly special election, and while results could make national waves, a ho-hum San Francisco electorate is hardly turning out to vote thus far.
If you’d have told me two years ago that in 2022, San Francisco would be holding a February 15 (!) election for a few school board seats and a nine-month seat-filler spot in the State Assembly, I’d have told you that’s hardly worth showing up to get the “I Voted!” sticker for. And many San Francisco voters seem to agree. According to the latest SF Elections Department data on today’s school board recall and AD-17 state assembly special election, only 24% of SF voters have voted or returned their mail-in ballots before the polls had opened on election day. (For comparison, at that point in September's Newsom recall election, more than 45% of SF voters had already voted by mail.)
But that state assembly special election could end up completely overhauling the current SF Board of Supervisors. And more significantly, the school board recall is drawing national attention. On CNN, Jake Tapper’s The Lead did a segment on the school board recall in “blue bastion” San Francisco, declaring, “what you’re seeing in San Francisco is emblematic of a split that has developed within the Democratic Party.”
People, it would frankly be an enormous shock if all three school board members up for recall were not recalled. Aside from their well-publicized missteps on school renaming and one of them filing a bizarre $87 million lawsuit, the three school board members are facing an unprecedented $1.9 million effort to recall them. (Recall opponents have raised $89,136, so the school board members are at a 23-1 financial disadvantage. FYI those kinds of candidates usually don’t win!) For perspective on that $1.9 million in school board recall money, KQED reminds us that “The 38 candidates who ran for school board in San Francisco across four elections, from 2016 to 2020, collectively spent $1.05 million.”
The SF school board recall is just one front in the current national rage war against school boards, and this one at least seems free of violence or death threats (unless you count threats from prior to the recall certification). Mayor London Breed gets to appoint the replacement(s) for any school board member who does get recalled, and as you see above, she is 100% in support of recalling all three. Of course, London Breed herself appointed Faauuga Moliga, who is now up for recall. Will the recall crowd just try to run another recall on Breed’s appointments once they’re eligible to be recalled? I’ll bet you all of Garry Tan’s Etherium they will!
Hello San Francisco. I'm attending the AD-17 debate hosted by Telegraph Hill Dwellers, Barbary Coast Neighborhood Association, North Beach Business Association, NEXT Village SF, Russian Hill Neighbors, Lower Polk Neighbors, Coalition for SF Neighborhoods, and D3 Democratic Club. pic.twitter.com/GvfZyAMnKa— Robert Fruchtman (@_fruchtose) January 27, 2022
It’s odd for a mere school board race to so overshadow a state assembly race. But Assembly District 17 race only applies to the eastern half of the city, and considering we might be voting on this same assembly seat four times this year, it’s hard to get the electoral juices flowing. This is a special election for the AD-17 assembly seat pitting former D-9 supervisor David Campos against current D-6 supervisor Matt Haney, with small business owner Bilal Mahmood and CCSF board member Thea Selby also on the ballot. Haney and Campos are favorites to fill Davis Chiu’s former seat, but as KPIX notes, “Political watchers doubt either candidate will win more than 50% of Tuesday’s vote, which means a likely runoff in April to pick the person who will serve the remainder of the current term, which ends in November.”
If Haney wins the seat today (or on April 19, or on the November 8 general election), once again, Mayor Breed would get the pick to appoint whoever fills the vacancy for Haney’s Board of Supervisors seat. So she is just loving this special election.
If you need motivation to vote, some poll places will give you a free surgical mask along with your sticker! It’s way better than a cloth mask!
After the polls close at 8 p.m., you can watch the election results pour in via the SF Elections Department, or a more detailed tracker on the Chronicle’s website. Both sides of the recall Chesa Boudin debate will surely be watching to gauge San Francisco’s recall appetite.
And apparently, the eyes of CNN, Jake Tapper, and the whole nation will be on these results too.
Image: Joe Kukura, SFist