Rafu Staff and Wire Reports
SAN FRANCISCO — If the current trend holds, San Francisco’s first appointed Asian American mayor will also be the city’s first elected Asian American mayor.
As of Wednesday afternoon, incumbent Ed Lee was leading the pack of 16 candidates with 48,767 votes or 31.51 percent of the total.
Lee said on Tuesday night, “I worked so hard to make sure that we continue with the success this city knows so well. I’m going to work tomorrow, tired or not, because this city is worth the sacrifice.”
The mayor declared victory on Wednesday after seeing the latest returns.
Rounding out the top 10 were Supervisor John Avalos with 28,307 (18.29 percent), City Attorney Dennis Herrera with 17,455 (11.28 percent), Board of Supervisors President David Chiu with 13,990 (9.04 percent), State Sen. Leland Yee with 11,745 (7.59 percent), Public Defender Jeff Adachi with 9,989 (6.45 percent), former Supervisor Bevan Dufty with 7,261 (4.69 percent), former Supervisor Tony Hall with 5,712 (3.69 percent), former Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier with 5,524 (3.57 percent), and entrepreneur Joanna Rees with 2,512 (1.62 percent).
Along with Adachi, Chiu and Yee, also in the running to become the first elected Asian American mayor were city Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting (804 votes, 0.52 percent) and college professor Wilma Pang (366, 0.24 percent).
The results are not final because San Francisco is using the ranked-choice voting (RCV) system, in which voters can choose up to three candidates in order of preference. If no candidate wins a majority of first-choice votes, the lowest vote-getter is eliminated and his or her supporters’ second-choice votes are counted. The process is repeated until one candidate passes the 50 percent mark. The goal is to determine a winner without holding a separate runoff election.
Critics of RCV say it forces candidates to tone down their views on issues so they don’t alienate potential second- and third-place votes from their opponents’ supporters.
The mayoral race was supposed to be wide open with no incumbent. Lee, previously the city administrator, was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to serve the last year of Mayor Gavin Newsom’s term after Newsom was elected lieutenant governor. At the time, Lee pledged that he would not run for mayor and would return to his old job.
Various groups and individuals, including former Mayor Willie Brown, Chinatown community leader Rose Pak and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (a former mayor), urged Lee to run, and he eventually changed his mind. This irked Supervisors Chiu and Avalos, who had voted to confirm Lee as interim mayor.
However, Lee’s popularity appeared to be unaffected by the broken promise, or by recent allegations that some of his supporters had engaged in fraud by marking ballots for Cantonese-speaking voters. Adachi, Alioto-Pier, Avalos, Chiu, Herrera, Rees and Yee requested federal observers and election monitors, but Lee himself has not been accused of wrongdoing.
Adachi, who will continue to serve as public defender, would have been the city’s first Japanese American mayor. In recent years he has been mainly known for his advocacy of pension reform to reduce the city’s budget deficit. Police and firefighters have been angered by his demands that city employees pay more for their pensions and health care.
Proposition D, which Adachi placed on the Nov. 8 ballot, was soundly defeated, with 99,296 (66.08 percent) against and 50,974 (33.92 percent) for it. Proposition C, a more moderate pension reform measure agreed upon by Lee and the unions, won by almost the same margin, 104,086 (68.68 percent) to 47,470 (31.32 percent).
The San Francisco Bay Guardian quoted Adachi as saying on election night that Proposition C will cut $400 million less than Proposition D. “It’s just pushing the issue down the road,” he warned.
Regarding his mayoral campaign, Adachi told his supporters, “If you look at everything we’ve done together, it was honest and from the heart and real — and that’s what I’m proud of.”
During the campaign, Adachi stressed that he was “not beholden to anyone” and that his parents, who were interned during World War II and lost everything, “taught me not to be bitter, to get an education and stand up for what is right.”
Mirkarimi vs. Miyamoto
The San Francisco sheriff’s race was without an incumbent due to the retirement of Michael Hennessey after three decades in office. As of Wednesday afternoon, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who was endorsed by Hennessey, was in the lead with 54,049 votes (37.62 percent).
As he has not cleared the 50-percent mark, Mirkarimi has yet to declare victory. He described himself as “cautiously optimistic” on Tuesday night.
In second place was Chris Cunnie with 41,404 (28.34 percent) and in third was Paul Miyamoto with 40,195 (27.52 percent). Former deputy David Wong was a distant fourth with 9,415 (6.45 percent).
Mirkarimi is a graduate of the San Francisco Police Academy and served nine years as an armed investigator for the District Attorney’s Office. His supervisorial district includes Japantown, and he has received support from a number of community leaders there.
Cunnie has served as a police officer, head of emergency communications for Mayor Newsom, head of investigations for former District Attorney Kamala Harris, and undersheriff for Hennessey.
Miyamoto, who has been with the Sheriff’s Department for 15 years, emphasized that he was the only candidate currently serving as a law enforcement officer and dismissed Mirkarimi as “a politician with no law enforcement experience on the streets.”
Miyamoto was endorsed by the San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs’ Association and several other rank-and-file organizations in Northern California. If elected, the Japanese-Chinese American captain would be the city and county’s first Asian American sheriff.
In a message to his supporters on Wednesday evening, Miyamoto said, “We have seen the latest numbers and remember, this is ranked-choice voting and these are not the final results. There are still votes to be counted. There are 24,500 absentee ballots that were dropped off and 7,500 provisionals that need to be counted. Stay positive and have faith in the voice of the voters remaining.”