Mayoral candidate Mark Leno last week took legal action to compel rival London Breed to alter her ballot designation as “acting mayor” because she is, in fact, not acting mayor.
That, Mission Local has learned, led Breed’s representatives to initiate discussions, which postponed a scheduled Thursday hearing. And, today, an agreement has been publicized between Breed, Leno and the Department of Elections to change Breed’s designation.
A “Stipulation and [Proposed] Order Replacing Ballot Designation” was today filed in Superior Court. Breed, Leno and Elections boss John Arntz “agree to resolve this dispute without the need for further legal proceedings,” and “have agreed to an alternative [Breed] ballot designation, ‘President, Board of Supervisors,’ that resolves the issues herein.”
Thus concludes what political observers believed could have been an embarrassing legal drama for the board president.
Breed, as president, assumed the position of acting mayor upon Mayor Ed Lee’s untimely Dec. 12 death. She filed to run for mayor in early January, listing her ballot designation as “acting mayor/supervisor.” But, on Jan. 23, she was voted out of the acting-mayor position when six of her colleagues opted to put Mark Farrell in City Hall Room 200.
Arntz claimed, however, that the deadline for him to proactively alter Breed’s ballot designation had passed by that time. And Breed did not seem inclined to push the issue. When we asked her in late January if she’d change it, she laughed. “No!” she replied forcefully. “Why would I?”
The answer to that question became clearer last week, when Leno moved to put the matter before a judge. And this could have gone badly for Breed; had the judge found in Leno’s favor, she could have been accused of actively attempting to mislead San Francisco’s voters.
Oddly, within today’s legal stipulation, Breed maintains the designation “acting mayor/supervisor” and occupational designation “acting mayor, San Francisco” remains “valid pursuant to the Elections Code and applicable to Secretary of State regulations.” And yet she still concedes the matter.
“London Breed was acting mayor when she filed her papers; she is President of the Board of Supervisors,” said Breed’s campaign in a statement. “We’ve always stated that we are fine with changing the ballot title to President of the Board of Supervisors. Let’s get back to the real issues facing the city.”
Leno’s team, however, noted that, “facing a lawsuit, Breed’s ‘why would I?’ wilted, quickly morphing into ‘why can’t I?’ Unfortunately, the answer was clear — under state law, using the title of a position held for only a few short weeks is grossly misleading to voters.”