Party-goers react when Prop. C pulls out to a 57.5 percent tally in the latest tabulation. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez

Prop. C garners 60 percent; Mandelman wins; Haney holds commanding lead; Mar, Stefani, Walton win initial ranked-choice tally

“Our opposition worked to our advantage, because they fucking sucked,” crows Prop. C architect Jennifer Friedenbach

Update, 1:35 a.m., Nov. 7: 

See Wednesday analysis here. 

The final report of the day has been posted by the Department of Elections, and preliminary ranked-choice tabulations have been run. It’s late, so we’ll be brief.

District 6: You needn’t run ranked-choice voting when one candidate has nearly 57 percent of the vote — which, with 14,000 ballots in the box, Matt Haney does. So much for the 1-2 strategy.

Christine Johnson trails with 25.2 percent and Sonja Trauss comes third with 18 percent. Haney declared victory on Facebook (where he’s also pictured alongside E-40). So that makes it official.

Haney’s own campaign was predicting a tight race, as were other city political observers we spoke with. Trauss’ side seemed to buy into polls they cited showing a dead heat. How everyone got this so wrong is food for thought … Wednesday.

Presumptive Supervisor-elect Matt Haney boogied onto the stage to James Brown’s “Get Up Off That Thang.” Photo by Lauren Smiley.

District 2: Supervisor Catherine Stefani wins with 53.5 percent of the vote in the initial RCV run. A few more of Republican John Dennis’ No. 2 votes went to Nick Josefowitz, but far more of Schuyler Hudak’s went to Stefani. This race will likely take days longer to settle.

District 4: Gordon Mar comes out way on top, 56.2 percent to Jessica Ho’s 43.8 percent after the initial RCV run. How’d that work? Well, 1,500-odd votes for Trevor McNeil did not transfer. And those that did went not to Ho but Mar by an 855-546 margin. So much for the 1-2 strategy.

District 8: Still Rafael Mandelman.

District 10: With Theo Ellington’s seconds — which went to Shamann Walton by a 3-to-1 margin — Walton won easily, with 63 percent of the vote to Tony Kelly’s 37 percent.

Propositions: Everything won or is winning. Prop. C is at 59.9 percent. Prop. D, the pot tax, is at 65.9 percent — it would need to clear two-thirds to avoid any chance of future litigation.

School Board: Collins, Lopez, and Moliga remain a solid 1-2-3. Zhao is polling a paltry 3.5 percent.

Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow. We will have much to analyze.

Update, 10:45 p.m.:
by Joe Eskenazi

Just like that, more votes have been counted — we’re up to nearly 44 percent of the electorate, some 220,000 votes.

District 6: With not quite 14,000 votes counted, Matt Haney’s lead is growing. He’s at nearly 57 percent of the vote. Christine Johnson is at 25.2 percent, and Sonja Trauss is at 17.8 percent.

Haney’s campaign — and every knowledgeable politico or strategist I spoke with — predicted things would be tight in this race. So, either we’re in for a dramatic turn of events, everybody got this wrong, or we were all shined.

I think the middle option is most likely.

District 2: With nearly 21,000 votes counted, the race continues to tighten: Catherine Stefani has 42.4 percent; Nick Josefowitz 37.4 percent; Schuyler Hudak 10.8 percent and John Dennis 9.3 percent. This will be a ranked-choice nail-biter that may well take days if not weeks to settle.

Shamann Walton talking to Raphael Mandelman, District 8 Supervisor. Photo by Jennifer Cortez

District 4: Not quite 17,000 votes have been cast here in the Sunset and Gordon Mar is separating himself a bit. he has nearly 35 percent of the vote, while Jessica Ho has 26 percent. But Trevor McNeil has 12.4 percent and Arthur Tom 9 percent. Where McNeil and Tom’s No. 2 votes go looms large.

District 8: The winner and still District 8 champion of the worrrrrrrrrld … RAF-A-ELLLLLL MANNNNNNNN-DEL-MANNNNNNN.

District 10: We’re up to 12,400 votes and change here in D10 and Shamann Walton is holding steady at 41.8 percent. Tony Kelly is a distant second at 24 percent; Theo Ellington has 20 percent.

Propositions: Prop. C proponents are claiming victory as the homeless services tax on big businesses is standing at 60 percent. With government unity, this measure all but certainly would have hit 66.7 percent, which would have opened up those funds to be spent immediately — instead of years from now, if ever.

Kind of makes you think.

Coalition on Homelessness director Jennifer Friedenbach seemed to be in a good mood. Nina Sparling reports she told the gathered masses at the Prop. C party that “People who have traditionally never agreed on anything agreed on this measure … “We fucking paid then 20 bucks an hour and it was AWESOME!”

Jess Montejano, the spokesman for No on C, sent out a press release stating that “The Yes on C campaign’s last-minute, multi-million dollar investments failed to effectively move the needle because voters were clearly divided.” What’s more, “The Yes on C campaign’s lack of an inclusive process came to be its ultimate downfall. Proposition C was full of empty promises from the start.”

For the record, the City Attorney’s office is bullish that it will win the pending legal challenges. And the taxes levied on the city’s big businesses can be held in an escrow account.

“Our opposition worked to our advantage because they fucking sucked,” noted Friedenbach from the stage tonight, reports Pedro Cota. 

Every other proposition seems destined for victory as well.

Coalition on Homelessness director Jennifer Friednebach is all smiles as Prop. C coasts to victory — but not as big a victory as its backers would have wished for. Photo by Jennifer Cortez.

School Board: Collins, Lopez, and Moliga remain in pole position.

More totals as they come. More analysis as the fog lifts. Last report for the day coming prior to midnight, per John Arntz at the Department of Elections.

Update, 10:15 p.m.: 

Day-of votes trickle in; Haney holds solid lead in D6, Prop. C  at 57.5 percent

by Joe Eskenazi

For initial analysis of the 118,000 and change mail ballots processed tonight, see below. The Department of Elections momentarily added in some 35,000 day-of-election votes. The totals below reflect around 31 percent of the electorate, some 155,000 votes.

District 6: With 10,000 votes accounted for, Matt Haney continues to hold a commanding 56 percent of the vote. Christine Johnson is at second with 26.4 percent and Sonja Trauss is at 17.1 percent. “I think we won tonight,” Haney told his backers at tonight’s election party, reports Lauren Smiley — with an emphasis on “think” and a big smile.

Certainly, stranger things have happened. Johnson told Mia Li that “Who knows? You may see numbers switch. We’ll wait and see.”

But Trauss seemed well aware of her chances when she spoke moments ago with Julian Mark: “It’s the kind of thing that if we did win,” she said, “the story would be: ‘How is this fucking possible?’”

Yet after several moments, she conceded: “It would have been nice to be on the board.”

District 2: With not quite 17,000 votes in the can, Nick Josefowitz has gained on Supervisor Catherine Stefani. She has 43.3 percent of the vote, he has 36.3 percent, and Schuyler Hudak and John Dennis have 10.6 percent and 9.6 percent, respectively. Their No. 2 votes still figure to be the difference.

District 4: Only 10,800 voters in the Sunset to count so far. Gordon Mar has 31.9 percent of the vote while Jessica Ho has 28.5 percent. Ranked-choice voting purgatory seems imminent.

District 8: Mandelman won.

District 10: With an anemic 7,453 votes counted, Shamann Walton has a commanding 42 percent of the vote, far ahead of Tony Kelly and Theo Ellington. Long faces at Kelly’s gathering at Thee Parkside, reports Nina Sparling.

Propositions: All of the measures are gaining steam in this second tally, including Prop. C which is now at nearly 58 percent. If, somehow, it clears 66.7 percent, the money could begin flowing into city coffers in relatively short order, without barriers presented by all-but-certain litigation.

Update, 9:15 p.m.: 

What just happened?

Making sense of the results we’ve got

by Joe Eskenazi

The balloon-drop moment for San Francisco’s 2018 midterm elections may not come for quite some time. You likely have time to scout out the best deal on balloons. Tallying up elections in this city (and state) takes time. And this isn’t because of ranked-choice voting or migrant caravans or any other straw men.

Rather, most of us vote by mail. And most of the votes are still out there, waiting to be counted; ballots postmarked by today can trickle into City Hall until Friday.

But here’s what we can make of the 118,806 mail ballots the city has run through the machine and tallied up so far (nearly 24 percent of the electorate). Ranked-choice voting will, all but certainly, decide a number of these races. Several candidates, most notably Christine Johnson and Sonja Trauss, are running overt 1-2 campaigns. It is not yet clear how effective these campaigns will be.

In June, mayoral aspirants Mark Leno received an astonishing 77 percent of Jane Kim’s second-place votes. But Leno and Kim were both higher-profile, citywide candidates with more name recognition than any of the office-seekers running today. No supervisorial campaign has yet successfully executed a 1-2 strategy — and, it warrants mentioning, that for all the remarkable efficiency of the Leno-Kim campaign, an effort that required spectacular amounts of messaging and preparation, it wasn’t enough to win the race.

The Department of Elections will release at least three more sets of numbers tonight and into the wee hours Wednesday. Stay tuned.

Supervisorial contests

District 6

District 6 is the site of the majority of this city’s housing development in the last decade and is the headquarters of this city’s ascendant tech outfits. This is the eye of the storm for San Francisco’s demographic metamorphosis — and, in addition to the influx of affluent newcomers, the districts borders have changed since the last election, rendering it ostensibly less progressive-friendly.

Like an NBA playoff game that comes down to the last shot, every move in this race will be dissected by the winners, losers — and those taking notes for the future.

Also something to take notes on: The $700,000 and change in PAC money directed at Haney undoubtedly had an impact. That’s a lot of money to drop into a contest in which perhaps 13,000 votes is well enough to win.

The initial numbers in this race put Haney at 56.5 percent — Lauren Smiley reports raucous cheering at his election night party. Johnson is at 26.4 percent, and Trauss at 16.8. That comes from 8,910 votes. 

These numbers are far, far better than members of Haney’s campaign earlier told me they were hoping for; a 7 to 10 point advantage would have been good enough for them. Also something to keep in mind is how many votes are tallied in this earliest batch. Haney’s campaign figured he had to not only be leading by 7 to 10 points, but doing so with at least 5,200 votes in the can.

Well, this would be more.

These early numbers may be attributable to outreach (and money) expended on Chinese American voters who cast their ballots weeks ago — and, as more votes come in, this race figures to tighten.

Trauss remained stoic as the tallies came in, reports Mission Local’s Julian Mark: She held her child and kept her face bent in the light of her phone. An older woman embraced her.

“If this doesn’t work out, I’ll go into political consulting,” Trauss had joked earlier in the day. But “I really do love political campaigns,” she said. “I don’t know,” she continued. “I already have a job: I’m going to go back to suing the suburbs.”

After the results came in, Mark notes, the bumping music that had been turned down for the announcement never turned back on. The mood had suddenly switched from a frat party of sorts — plastic cups, bro hugs, shots of bourbon — to a crowded wake. Wry smiles. Distant stares. Thumbs refreshing screens.

Only minutes before, Truass’s field director, Mark Press, told Mark: “We believe we are ahead, but it could go either way. And I won’t regret anything.”

How he knew they were ahead was “off-the-record,” but “we’ve heard good things,” he told Mark.

The conventional wisdom is that day-of-election voters will lean liberal in this city. Combined with these gaudy early absentee totals, if that trend holds, Haney is in good shape. But this city — and, especially, this district — are changing. It remains to be seen if one can blithely assume that what held true in the past will hold true in the present. Or future.

Questions will abound for Haney, especially if this race slips into protracted ranked-choice voting tabulation purgatory. He lined up big endorsements from moderate politicos like Gavin Newsom and Kamala Harris. But did he win the confidence of the Tenderloin block captain who’d bring 50 voters to the poll with him?

Haney had what was ostensibly the most robust ground game in the district. But could he get access to the buildings? (Apparently he could: Lauren Smiley reports that Haney’s campaign manager, Courtney McDonald, ebulliently announced at his election night party that “We sneaked into 500-plus buildings from SROs to luxury condos. We got into all of them and kicked out of most of them.”). 

The next tabulations post in perhaps an hour. Until then, everyone at Team Haney is chasing their cocktails with cautious optimism.

“I want to see what the next results are, but everyone here is pretty happy — and has good reason to be,” Allbee told Smiley. “It shows the poll that people were talking about wasn’t true.”

District 2

This contest pits Supervisor Catherine Stefani, an appointee of Mayor Mark Farrell and a City Hall veteran, against newcomer Schuyler Hudak, Republican John Dennis, and Nick Josefowitz, a politically ambitious BART commissioner who has put a jaw-dropping $400,000 of his own money into this race (including a $60,000 bump on Nov. 2).

Earlier, Josefowitz spent more than $80,000 gathering signatures for a measure that would have disqualified his presumed competitor, former Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier from running for office again. He dropped this effort after Mayor Ed Lee’s untimely death ultimately resulted in Farrell becoming mayor and appointing Stefani — not Alioto-Pier.

Josefowitz subsequently sued the city (and Stefani) in hopes of moving this election forward to June when it wouldn’t conflict with his potential BART board re-election. He lost. He appealed and lost that too.

Out of 11,821 votes, Stefani has not quite 45 pecent of the vote. Josefowitz has 35.5 percent while Hudak and Dennis both have about 10 percent. How folks who voed for the newcomer and the Republican distribute their No. 2 votes will determine this race. 

Josefowitz is campaigning on housing and transit issues and aims to make government more efficient. Everything can change as ranked-choice voting comes into play, but these early results indicate that District 2 voters — some of the wealthiest in all San Francisco in a neighborhood demographically resembling District 3 with no Chinatown — may care more about the sorts of things that Stefani has accomplished in her many years as a Farrell and Alioto-Pier legislative aide. There’s a speed bump still called the “Stefani speed bump” that she got installed.

That may just be how District 2 rolls. 

District 4

This is the first contested election in more than a decade in District 4; after former Supervisor Ed Jew was removed from the Board of Supervisors for shaking down tapioca shops and, perhaps more importantly, not living in his district, Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed Carmen Chu to the role.

After Chu was appointed Assessor-Recorder by Mayor Ed Lee, he tapped her aide, Katy Tang, for D4. Tang earlier this year surprised nearly everyone by announcing she would not run for re-election and certain victory. She didn’t surprise her new aide, Jessica Ho, however. Ho had declared her candidacy to succeed Tang — despite only moving to this city in March.

That District 4 is in play for the progressives feels a bit surreal. And both Ho and Gordon Mar, her left-leaning challenger, are, in the words of a longtime city political observer “imperfect candidates who do not fit the district.”

Ho is so new to this city that it’s possible she doesn’t yet realize the avenues are alphabetical. Mar, while Chinese in a predominantly Chinese district, “doesn’t fit the appropriate profile and happens to be the twin brother of Eric Mar,” a left-leaning former supervisor.

Ho is endorsed by Mayor Breed, but we’re told this doesn’t mean nearly as much for the district’s heavily Asian base as backing from former Mayor Ed Lee. You can guess why. What’s more, Breed’s advocacy for safe injection sites is not universally popular here, and Chinese voters who threw in for Ellen Lee Zhou in June aren’t necessarily ready to line up behind Breed’s choice either.

It is not yet clear if District 4 experienced the high turnout observed citywide; some 8,925 vote-by-mail ballots have been tallied. Mar’s campaign had hoped to poll at 40 percent or better in the early absentee returns. He’s not there: Mar has 30.5 percent of the early vote while Ho has 29.7 percent. Trevor McNeil, who was running a 1-2 with Ho, has 10.5 percent while Arthur Tom — the guy you probably voted for if you wanted to vote for a Chinese person and didn’t care for Mar or Ho — has 10.2 percent.

In recent weeks, this contest turned contentious, with accusations of wrongdoing flying in multiple languages. Ho was also the beneficiary of a gaudy $623,000 in PAC spending on her behalf.

Undecided rates, we are told, were very high in this race, making accurate predictions dicey. Campaign workers we spoke with were bracing for a drawn-out ranked-choice voting tally. Who wins McNeil and Tom’s votes will be likely be paramount. 

District 8

Following his lopsided victory over Ed Lee appointee Jeff Sheehy in June, Rafael Mandelman ran essentially unopposed, picking up 91 percent of early voting en route to winning a new term.

District 10

Earlier today, we posed a question: Would a heavy turnout benefit left-leaning candidates or, in California, would it benefit the center? In District 10, there doesn’t appear to be much in the way of high turnout (at least yet): Only some 7,200 early votes were recorded Tony Kelly, the Democratic Socialist candidate and clear left-wing choice, tallied 23.6 percent. Meanwhile, the more ideologically malleable Theo Ellington earned 19.3 percent and front-runner Shamann Walton has a commanding 42.2 percent.

School Board

Alison Collins is the top vote-getter so far at 14.1 percent. Then comes Gabriela Lopez at 11.8 percent and recent London Breed appointee Faauuga Moliga at 11.7 percent. The top three vote-getters win in this 19-candidate field (with no incumbent). Josephine Zhao, who ostensibly “withdrew” after sending mixed messags in English and Chinese and making ostensibly homophobic and transphobic statements, is at just 4.2 percent.

Ballot propositions

Proposition A, which would direct bond money toward repairing San Francisco’s antique seawall, requires two-thirds of the vote to pass. So far, it’s at 80 percent, and proposition spokesman David Aldridge assures me everyone is elated. Prop. E, which would devote hotel tax funds to the arts, also requires two thirds and is polling at 71 percent.

Prop. B, a privacy measure the Society of Professional Journalists worried might lead to a weakening of city transparency rules, received 56 percent of the early vote. Prop. D, which would tax the gross receipts of cannabis outfits, netted 67 percent.

And Prop. C — that’s the one you’ve heard of. The tax on high-grossing businesses to raise perhaps $300 million a year for homeless services is at 55.4 percent.

Predictions for Prop. C, bankrolled extravagantly by Salesforce and Marc Benioff were all positive; the only question was whether it would clock the two-thirds mark necessary to avoid years of litigation. “Prop. C is going to fucking kick ass,” said a longtime Democratic strategist. “The party tonight will be one for the ages,” added another.

We will discuss more about the ramifications of the Prop. C vote in the near future, as more numbers trickle in. Those will both clarify how this measure is doing — and what the legacy of tonight will be. 

Update, 8:35 p.m. 

Matt Haney consultant Nate Allbee delivered a rapid-fire soliloquy to Mission Local’s Lauren Smiley while riding shotgun in a car full of campaign workers from Haney HQ to Calle 11, where the party is under way.

“We’ve been consistent in running scared. We always thought Sonja and Christine were serious competitors. Sonja ran a campaign. Christine didn’t,” Allbee said while the car maneuvered around SoMa (and, yes, there was a worker sitting in his lap so Smiley could fit in the vehicle).

Polls, he says, are useless in District 6. Nobody has a landline. And prior races can’t be used as an analog because the district has transformed in a few short years.

Sorry folks: Haney predicts this race will be too close to call, and drag on for weeks.

Also: Scenes from local polling places. 

Update, 7:45 — polls close in 15 minutes

Voters line up in City Hall. Others busk or hand out food

A dispatch from Abraham Rodriguez

Lines this evening snaked their way around the halls of City Hall’s lower levels in ways that could confuse a person into thinking he or she were in Purgatory. Last-minute voter registration lines began  near the polls in the central corridor and rolled their way into the nether wings of the lower level, past tiny hallways that could barely have two people stand side-by-side and ended back near the Department of Elections office.

The lines, and the amount of people waiting to vote, surprised the few spectators waiting for the voting to finish. Arthur Charles-Orszal had been waiting for his friend Terri Lee to register and vote, but seemed in awe at the lines. Back in Paris, where he is originally from, voting is much more streamlined. There are hardly any lines, he said.

“We vote by lists or ideas, but not proposition by proposition,” Charles-Orszal said. “You have one thing to do: Put the vote in an envelope and get out.”

His friend, Lee, had to register in San Francisco and said she waited in line for 40 minutes.

“It wasn’t bad. It actually moved faster than I thought,” she said.

Andrew Xu was further up in the long voter registration line and said his sister had pressured him to sign up and vote. He felt the social media rallying drove his decision to vote today, and if it hadn’t been for that he wouldn’t have voted.

“That kind of constant impression drove home how important it was,” he said.

Sam Misner and Megan Smith busk for Prop. E outside City Hall. Photo by Megan Shutzer.

A little further down the line was first time voter Stefanie Dimofski. She’s only been in San Francisco for three months, but the need to register and vote drove her to brave the long lines. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Dimofski said voting fever had been so high that her family in Ohio were as excited as her to vote. Of concern to her were environmental policies, and the need to have new faces in government. She’d already been in line for 20 minutes.

Outside, on the corner of Grove and Polk, an unexpected group of volunteers are asking voters if they need anything – with outstretched hands, offering granola bars. They are the Neighborly Project, a group started by Deborah French Frischer.

“It’s a big day. Thank you for being out here. Do you need anything?” The group of four volunteers asked a passerby in a chorus.

“We are trying to discover how to be urban neighbors at intersections. Tonight we are bringing emotional support to voters,” said French Frischer.

Meanwhile, Sam Misner and Megan Smith busked for a cause — Prop. E, which allocates funds to the arts.

Whether music will lead to more votes for E is yet to be determined but Smith is optimistic.

“People don’t really notice how much art is around them all the time,” he said. “But tonight they’re noticing,” Misner added with a laugh. — additional reporting from Megan Shutzer

Update, 7:30 p.m. 

Chinatown voters sound off

A dispatch from Mia Li and Julian Mark

We could all guess that Chinatown would lean a bit more conservative than places like our very own Mission District — but not this conservative.

A Chinese American man who gave his name as Randall was closing his grocery store at the corner of Jackson and Powell. He said the governorship was the most important item on the ballot. He voted for John Cox. (He also said he voted for Trump.)

I’m Republican,” he said. “You can’t trust Gavin Newsom. I’ve watched him his whole political career — I have fought him.”

Exhibit A, for Randall, was Newsom’s 2007 affair when he was in mayor of San Francisco. “That guy broke the man code,” Randall said. “That’s a guy you cannot trust with the whole state.”

Yuan, Randall’s wife, who declined to give her last name, went to vote today with Randall. “I voted because I am a Republican. I voted no on C at all.”

Randall and his wife were Americans, but many store owners Mission Local spoke to said they were not U.S. citizens and couldn’t vote. Some wished they could. “Of course I wanted to, but I can’t,” said Amy Luo, the shop assistant of a grocery store at Powell St. and Pacific Ave.

But we were able to track down some who voted. Lung Si, who voted early in Chinatown, said he voted for Prop C. “I care about the homeless issue most, they (homeless people) are messing up the streets every day, this issue has to be fixed.”

Eddie Kwang, a poll worker at Chinatown Fire Department Station 2, said he voted because it’s the responsibility of citizens. “It’s our right to vote.” And he voted yes on C. “It’s the opportunity to improve the homeless issue in San Francisco. “

Update, 6:45 p.m. 

Yes on C phone-bankers work up to the last minute from the sixth floor of Salesforce Tower

About a dozen Prop. C supporters gathered at Salesforce tower in a last minute phone bank effort to get San Francisco residents to go out and vote. Tables were set for them at an office where they sat down and used their cell phones to call voters. “Make sure to vote before 8 p.m.” was echoed by multiple callers in their glass box conference room.

Dan Sakaguchi ditched work because he felt his time would be better spent working the phones. He supports Prop. C because “tech companies should really be paying for the displacement they’re partly responsible for.”

He was not alone in his sentiment.

“We really want Prop. C to pass the homeless problem needs a really big injection of money,” said Landa Tankha, an organizer from Veritas Tenant Campaign who also volunteered to place calls after walking the streets of San Francisco all day to promote a yes vote on state Prop. 10. She said she’s supporting Prop. C because “every citizen matters”. — Pedro Cota

YouTube video

Update, 6:30 p.m.:

Mission voters show up in numbers

A dispatch from Elizabeth Creely

Voting was steady throughout the day at polling station in the Mission, equaling that of presidential elections, according to poll workers and bringing in more voters than in past midterm elections.

Katie Wilson, poll worker at precinct 7907 located in Station 7 Firehouse, said the lines have been steady and voting consistent.

“I’ve been told this is the precinct where the most votes have been cast,” she said. “A lot” of those votes were vote by mail and still more were provisional ballots cast that day. “There have been tons of provisional ballots,” Wilson said.

Across the street Marion Wellington, Amparo Alarcon and Estephanie Mancilla, volunteers with the Yes on C campaign, waved blue and yellow signs enthusiastically.

Down the street and around the block on Treat Street, a line stretched from the entryway of the Mission Arts Center. Precinct 7909 was packed with voters hunched over the small table inside the booth. Outside, five voters were in line. More walked over as voters exited the building.  

A line outside precinct 7907 at 745 Treat Ave on Tuesday evening. Photo by Elizabeth Creely

Kyle, a poll worker who greeted voters outside, said  “I was prompted by the events this year,” he said. “I wanted to do my part.” At least a quarter of the ballots were mailed in, he said. “And that’s if I’m being really conservative.”

Evan said he was excited to be in a line of waiting voters. “I’ve never seen a line before!” He always votes, he said, “but this year I wanted to speak out and hear other speak out, and to hear each other. We’re here for the greater good.”

At precinct 7905 inside the Mission Language & Vocational School, the turnout had been steady throughout the day, according to Chance, a poll worker. “Compared to the last midterm election, it’s been busier.” Half of the ballots had been cast by mail, he said.

Eleazar Vega, stepped outside the building clutching his “Ya Vote” sticker. “I always vote, and  especially this year. Anecdotally, I’m seeing a lot of attention to voting in my peer group. I ended up at an election party and and out-of-town friend told me it was the most San Franciscan thing she’d seen!”

Juan Ruiz, wearing painter’s overalls, walked up and began to search the poll list with hands stained by white paint. He wanted to make sure he was at the right precinct. Ruiz said he always voted in the presidential campaign, but this was his first time voting in a midterm election.

“I want to be a part of the change,” Ruiz said. “I want to vote for the people who can’t, and who don’t have a voice.”

D6 campaigns trade barbs, talk about influence on the Mission

A dispatch from Julian Mark

Update, 4:30 p.m.

The District 6 campaigns might be at each other’s throats, but they do agree on one thing: Whatever happens in the Tenderloin, SoMa, and Mission Bay affects the Mission District.

Around noon, Mission Local stopped by the campaign headquarters of Matt Haney and Sonja Trauss — which are just around the corner from each other — and members of both campaigns did not hesitate to come out swinging.

Former State Senator and mayoral candidate Mark Leno, a Haney-backer, said that no District 6 candidate can be “viable” without supporting Proposition C, which would roughly double the city’s homeless budget via a corporate tax. “But if you look at the endorsements and the money behind the other candidates in D6 (Trauss and Christine Johnson), they’re not supporting C,” Leno said. “In fact they’re working against it.”

The “money behind” Trauss and Johnson are from a state Independent Expenditure committee called Progress SF, which does not need to disclose the names of its contributors. So far the IE has poured $520,000 into supporting Trauss and Johnson. “They’re so disingenuous,” Leno said referring to the Progress SF.

Around the corner at her headquarters, Trauss, donning her pink campaign t-shirt and chewing on a sandwich audibly, said Leno’s point is muddled. Trauss has expressed support for Prop. C, as has Johnson.

“If my backers were against (Prop) C and I was also against it, (my opponents) would say, ‘See she’s controlled by her backers,’” Trauss said. “If my backers were against it and I’m for it, (my opponents) will say, “See, we can’t trust anything she does!’”

“These people already know what they think and they’re nothing reality can offer that’ll change any of their minds,” she continued.

Sonja Trauss, Tuesday morning. Photo by Lydia Chávez

Separately, Laura Foote, Trauss’ YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard) BFF, chimed in and offered her so-called “mean” quote so Trauss wouldn’t have to. Haney “is literally not running on a single thing. There is no content to his entire candidacy,” Clark said. “He’s running on, ‘Do you hate Sonja Trauss and corporate-Dem — bla-bla-bla — corporate money?’ That’s it.”

About an hour earlier, at his headquarters, Haney said to a room full of 40 or so supporters that his campaign has, by far, the most people on the street. “And the other folks are nowhere to be seen,” he said. “The other thing I’m seeing, is that our people are actually having fun!”

Haney’s office was, indeed, far more abuzz than that of Trauss — a hive of the city’s progressives and, in particular, some from the Mission District. Supervisor Hillary Ronen was elsewhere in the city, but all three of her top aides were present.

Carolina Morales, a District 9 legislative aide, noted that “District 6 and District 9 share a border,” and the city’s homeless population frequently migrate between the districts.

The District 9 aide also noted that the Mission’s Latino population is moving to Districts 10 and 6. “To start caring for our Latino people, we need to start thinking beyond the Mission,” she said.

For all those reasons, Morales said, it’s important to have a good District 6 partner, and Haney is that partner.

The Trauss campaign’s biggest priority — it goes without saying — is housing “at all levels of affordability.” The candidate and her supporters reiterated that San Francisco eastern neighborhoods — which include both districts 6 and 9 — have built the most housing, and it’s time for the rest to build more.

A guest at Trauss HQ was none other than Mayor London Breed. Along with Johnson, the mayor and Trauss texted would-be voters. Breed declined to answer any questions from Mission Local.

A victory by Trauss or Johnson “is important for the Mission because — not only will it take pressure off the Mission by allowing apartments in the rest of the city — it will also open up the rest of the city to affordable housing,” said Steven Buss, the founder of Mission YIMBY. “Not everyone who needs affordable housing wants to live in the Mission or in SoMa”

YouTube video

Theo Ellington revs ’em up in Bayview

A dispatch from Nina Sparling

Update, 4:15 p.m. 

Do you want a victory? Do you WANT victory? Do YOU WANT A VICTORY?” Theo Ellington asks –– or yells. He’s revving up the volunteers and campaign managers in his Bayview campaign office on Third Street.


Half of District 10 votes by mail –– but the energy to capture every possible remaining is high. Volunteers in royal blue t-shirts get ready to leave once again, armed with signs and fliers in English and Chinese. In the last four hours of voting, volunteers are heading out the Dogpatch, Potrero Hill, Visitacion Valley, and staying here in the Bayview.

“It’s nothing special. Just regular old all hands on deck get out the vote effort,” says campaign manager Noah Maier. “If we win, it’ll be because of people who talked to people who talked to people who talked to people”

Ellington warns that they’ll encounter a lot of people who say they’ve already voted – but that’s not a sign to give up. He’s been in the district all day –– unlike his competitor Shamann Walton, who made a rapid-fire appearance at John’s Grill election day schmooze.

“There are 15 better uses of my time,” Ellington said when asked why he hadn’t attended. He saw a line at a polling place in the district for the first time ever. “It’s good to see folks paying attention,” he said.

Update, 2:40 p.m.:

Politicians break bread — and glassware — at annual John’s Grill schmoozefest.

A dispatch from Nina Sparling

The inside of John’s Grill smells like a summer camp cafeteria. Mounds of food are here for the masses: those passionate voters eager for a glimpse into the political class hoping to score a handshake or a photo op. Or just hungry folks in the Mid-Market neighborhood. Or both.

The politicians, legislative aides, and commissioners from one agency or another couldn’t manage a plate or a glass alongside all the handshaking, cheek kissing, and back slapping at this yearly election day tradition.

Paul Wells, producer of the “Will and Willie Show,” adorned a parody MAGA hat. It’s been well received at the Election Day Party at John’s Grill. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez

By 11:30 a.m. the line winds almost around the block. Early arrivals dug into Thanksgiving-sized plates of chicken, ravioli in vodka sauce, and Caesar salad. They sopped up the grease with bits of San Francisco sourdough. Drinks were knocked back quickly and spilled often.

“Where are all these people coming from?!” asked Lula Jackson, who was there with four sisters. All sported cherry-red outfits. The crowd at John’s was bigger than usual, she said.

Da Mayor Willie Brown and Mayor London Breed share a moment at the traditional John’s Grill election day schmoozefest. When Brown asked Breed how she was doing, she replied “I’m feeling like a winner!” Perhaps, and yet the day is long. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.

“This is what San Francisco is about,” says Fanya Young, a first-timer at the Election Day lunch event. “It’s like a big exhale.” Young is among the San Franciscans that come to John’s to spot politicians outside City Hall.

The music pumped. Beyoncé echoes the mood of many hopeful that a blue wave will come crashing down: I’m a survivor / I’m not gon’ give up / I’m not gon’ stop / I’m gon’ work harder.

Mayor London Breed appeared in stilettos, a purplish tweed number and soft curls. Willie Brown stations himself five feet in front of the door. He sports a blue sports coat with subtle red plaid stitching and (unsubtle) patent leather red boots with a belt to match — fastened with a silver Gucci buckle.

Hizzhonor Wille Brown wears red boots to greet a hoped-for blue wave. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.

State Sen. Scott Wiener arrived, bending his lanky frame to chat with his successors at the Board of Supervisors, among them Ahsha Safaí and Rafael Mandelman. Hands reached out to pat the backs of elected officials –– especially those awaiting exit polls.

District 10 hopeful Shamann Walton came and went in a matter of minutes. He spent his time carefully –– close to Mayor Breed. District Attorney George Gascón, who announced this term will be his last, avoided conversation.

Around them, waiters flitted back and forth with stacks of dirty plates slick with the residue of free lunch. A faux-cable car packed with Prop. C supporters passes by twice –– a subtle jab at the political establishment figures within who have come out against the measure.

By 1 p.m. glasses started breaking. The crowd had spilled beyond the metal barriers onto Ellis Street. Politicians departed, dispersing to various corners of the city. The servers began to move a little more slowly.

Around the corner, Market Street was quiet and clear. A lone woman at a folding table encouraged passersby to take a voter guide. An Uncle Sam climbed out of the Powell Street BART station, pointing voters to the ballot box.

Prop. C supporters on a faux cable car vehicle razz the political establishment dining at John’s Grill. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.

Update, 12:30 p.m.: Turnout continues to trend high, and you don’t need “informal polls of the street” to tell you that (see below). You can just ask the head of the Department of Elections.

So far, mail ballots and City Hall voters have reached 28 percent of the city’s registered voters — compared to 34 percent at this point in the Nov. 2016 presidential election and 20 percent in June’s comparatively high mayoral midterm.

“We’ve had the usual — poll workers who don’t show up, ballot jams, and one polling place where the outlets failed to work,” Elections boss John Arntz told Lydia Chavez. And yet, the voters keep coming; half the 1,100 people who’ve voted so far in City Hall were not registered. In June some 2,200 people registered on the day of the election and Arntz felt that number would be eclipsed today.

Elections Department boss John Arntz has developed a few more gray hairs coping with larger-than-normal turnout. But that, like high turnout itself, isn’t a terrible problem to have. Photo by Lydia Chavez.

So, that’s happening. But who does it help? The conventional wisdom is that higher turnout benefits more left-leaning causes and politicians. Though, in California, that theory may be put to the test. “In a high turnout election, it’s not just the most ardent never-shower Bernie Sanders person who shows up, it’s the regular folks with two kids who’ll be deciding whether they like someone or not,” says a longtime city political operative. “In this state, that may draw people to the center.”

If so, one place to keep an eye on is San Francisco’s District 10. A high turnout is probably good news for bond measures and proposed taxes (Like Prop. A to remake the city’s aging seawall or Prop. C, which would tax the city’s highest-grossing businesses to double the homeless services budget). But it may not be optimal for politicians like progressive stalwart Tony Kelly, who is the clear candidate of the left in D10 and is relying on outsize support among left-leaning voters for success. A larger voter pool may dilute Kelly’s base of support. His opponents Theo Ellington and Shamann Walton, who have played to both sides of this city’s political spectrum, would stand to gain more.

This is one of many hypotheses we can test when the dust settles. Another deals with the longtime tendency of San Francisco’s day-of-election voters to lean more to the left and early absentee voters — who returned their ballots weeks ago — to lean more moderate. This city’s demographics and voting patterns are changing, however. Day-of voters put Mark Leno in the lead when the polls closed in June’s mayoral election — but, counter-intuitively, late absentee voters went for London Breed, and she’s your mayor.

Flanked by District 6 candidates Christine Johnson (left) and Sonja Trauss, Mayor London Breed texts would-be voters. Photo by Julian Mark.

The conventional wisdom, then, would be to predict Matt Haney wins in District 6 if he’s ahead in early absentee returns, because day-of votes should push him over the top. But no district’s demographics have changed more than those of District 6. And it all depends how many ballots are left to sift through at the end of the night; more and more of us are not voting in person, so it becomes harder and harder to call races on election day.

We know 113,000 vote-by-mail ballots arrived at City Hall by yesterday, but it still remains to be seen how many hail from each district. In this state, where ballots can arrive in the mail until Friday and still be counted, key races in this city and throughout California may not be decided for quite some time.

In 2010, 61 percent of this city’s registered voters cast a ballot. This year’s midterm is projecting even higher; many of the folks deciding the fate of Board candidates or seawall funding were likely spurred to head to the polls due to disdain for the president. But high turnout is relative, and longtime city election strategists told us to expect contested District 6 to lag 10 or 15 percent behind San Francisco writ large.

Here are three potential reasons why:

1. District 6 voters, we are told, have a higher propensity than others to move out of the district and fail to register elsewhere, meaning the voter rolls do not paint an accurate picture of who lives and votes here;

2. In low-income areas, sadly, many people just don’t vote;

3. Campaigns don’t target people who don’t vote, creating a cycle of who gets talked to and who votes.

Christine Johnson chats with a volunteer on Election Day morning. Photo by Lydia Chavez.

Update, 11:40 a.m.: District 6 hopeful Christine Johnson tells Lydia Chavez that “We’re all different and we’ll have to see who can close it out. My informal polls of the street say it is very close.”

So do the formal polls (though polling in District 6 is notoriously difficult, and including ranked-choice voting permutations feels like a double bank shot).

“Informal polls of the street” is a new term on us, but it’s clear that District 6 is very much in play. Our informal polls of longtime city politicos and strategists of the street is equally opaque. “I have to say that, usually by right about now, I have a pretty good sense of where shit is going to end up,” one tells us. “This is one of the first times where I just can’t tell you.”

In District 6 — where Johnson and Sonja Trauss are running a 1-2 campaign against Matt Haney — and District 4 — where Jessica Ho is hoping second-place votes from lower-tier candidate Trevor McNeil push her past Gordon Mar — a few hundred or few thousand votes will essentially dictate what the overriding outcome of this election is. If Haney and Mar prevail, the city’s Board of Supervisors will be firmly in progressive control, able to not just play defense against Mayor London Breed, but begin going on the offensive. Along with the likely passage of Prop. C (more on that later, for certain), it would be a stunning rebuke of the mayor and her endorsed candidates and positions.

A victory for Johnson/Trauss or Ho, however, sends a different message. Among them: You can successfully run a 1-2 ranked-choice voting campaign at the district level; and, of course, pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars of Independent Expenditure money into races where 13,000 or fewer votes are enough to win can have a hell of an effect.

Update, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 9:30 a.m.: Lydia Chavez is monitoring the scene in District 6. As soon as you cross into the highly contested territory, placard-wielding surrogates for the candidates envelop you. Some are attentive:

This eager canvasser was disappointed to learn the photographer hailed from elsewhere in the city. Photo by Lydia Chavez.

And some are not (though, to be fair, as the sign indicates, he may have a propensity to multitask):

Everybody loves them some Candy Crush Saga. Photo by Lydia Chavez

As we noted earlier (which is below; we’re going to add to the top today as updates come in), the Department of Elections is projecting this could be the biggest midterm election in this city since the Ford administration. Anecdotally, poll workers in SoMa said they’d been busy. An elections worker tasked with inspecting disability accessibility and outhouse sanitation throughout the city told us that he’d even seen modest lines out of garage doors and basements during his early morning patrol.

It’s a long day, but that’s a good sign.

A dispatch from Lydia Chavez:

Cross into District 6 at Mission Street and it looks like a festival — campaign signs are tacked on sticks two to three on top of one another, with workers looking like the vendors who sell balloons at a Mexican carnival.

Sonja Trauss, a housing activist with the Yes in My Back Yard (YIMBY) party, Matt Haney, a school board member, and Christine Johnson, a former Planning Commissioner – they are all out in force with Haney having the largest ground force.

Inside the headquarters for Trauss at 1260 Mission Street, the campaign staff, up since 3 a.m. to prepare for a literature drop and the arrival of 50 volunteers at 5 a.m., was running on the sugar high of multiple donuts.

Staffer Anika Steig wondered about Precinct 7635. “It’s a statistical outlier. We don’t know what’s going on but something is,” she said referring to the precinct’s high turnout.

Ben Libby the “numbers guy” was looking at Precincts 7632, 7619, and 7644 and also expected high turnout.

Nearby, candidate Trauss was alone handing out – or trying to hand out — flyers. Most residents who walked by had already voted. “Thursday, Friday and Saturday they were like, thank you, but Monday it was totally dead,” she said.

No matter. It takes Trauss a nanosecond to move into wonk territory. The sun, reflecting off a building, could be used for energy; Prop. C to tax the highest-earning corporations for profits, is the peanut butter and jelly to build more housing; and hey, have you seen that map to legalize affordable housing everywhere?

A couple of blocks away, Haney’s campaign office at 156 Eighth Street. is buzzing. “It looks like turnout out will be really high everywhere,” said Nate Allbee, the campaign manager.

They are prepared. Allbee said they had 250 people out now at around 9 a.m., and would have almost 500 volunteers come through during the day. They were the only campaign planning a noon rally at their offices.

At Johnson’s campaign office at 76 Sixth Street, Jeffrey Chuong, her field director, had also clocked in at 3 a.m. “This race is a toss up,” Chuong said. “I think everyone has a good shot.”

His job, he said, was to make sure people voted. They have about 50 volunteers out, with some returning to make calls to remind people to vote and to drop off their mail-in ballots before 3 p.m.

Many in the June’s mayoral election were postmarked late because voters had failed to make their drops by 3 p.m. he said.

Katina Johnson, a tech worker, dropped by the office to pick up literature and flyers, Although she has been politically active, “I’ve never done this before” she said.

At a nearby café, Josh, a tech worker, wore a sash of his political affiliations including Yes on C and the Democratic Socialists of America, San Francisco.

He thought more tech workers would vote in favor of Prop C. He urged his fellow tech workers to think about “their employers using the value that they create to support political agendas that they might not agreed with.”

On Mayor London Breed’s opposition to Prop C. “I wonder if when Benioff came out to support it, if she regretted taking such a strong stand against it.”

Original article, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 7 a.m.:

The sun will rise Tuesday at 6:40 a.m., casting light on the garages and basketball gyms and church basements and community centers — and, here in the Mission, a laundromat-cafe — where San Franciscans will cast their ballots and decide what this city should do with itself.

As of Monday, some 113,000 vote-by-mail ballots had already trickled into City Hall. At this point in June, when we narrowly elected London Breed mayor, that tally was just 74,000. In November 2016, when a positively French 81 percent of us voted in a presidential contest, some 141,000 VBM ballots were on ice by Election Day. So turnout tomorrow is tracking high. John Arntz, the head of the Department of Elections, says this could be our biggest midterm election turnout yet (or at least going back to 1974, as the department’s records in that category do).

Polls open at 7 a.m. and here is a guide from KQED that will help you find your polling place and other FAQs.  

Turnout today ought to be high. And, somewhat intuitively when you think about it, turnout is the key to this and every election. A number of campaigns Mission Local has spoken with were optimistic that the more folks who showed up to vote, the better they’d do. Which, in some cases is true and, in other cases is not — but woe to the politician, in this city at least, who bemoans more voting and more democracy.

The polls close today at 8 p.m. (Did you forget to register? You can still register and vote at City Hall up until the closing gun). The results of those 113,000-odd Vote-By-Mail ballots received by Monday will be revealed before 9 p.m. tonight. At least three more batches of votes will be tallied and released as day-of-election ballots are amassed. There will be one or more rounds of preliminary ranked-choice voting run tonight. It will, in individual races, be either clear that one candidate is in the catbird seat or that we’re in for days if not weeks of electoral trench warfare.

There doesn’t appear to be much of a middle ground.

All day and night long, you can check back on this article for updates. Managing editor Joe Eskenazi will be working the phones and analyzing the data — and not just for the five contested supervisors’ races, but for all the propositions — including Proposition C, which would tax big businesses to fund homeless and housing services. Lydia Chavez, Pedro Cota, Jennifer Cortez, Mia Li, Julian Mark, Abraham Rodriguez, Meg Shutzer, and Lauren Smiley are slated to be out and about, at election-night parties, City Hall, and anywhere else they need to be. Check out our Twitter feed and Instagram page all night long as well.

Check back in frequently. Vote only once.

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1 Comment

  1. On to ’20. Reoccupy the other People’s House. The fight ain’t over yet. As always, the struggle continues.

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