San Francisco’s political landscape is facing a possible big turnover this November, with its mayor and district attorney running for statewide office and four seats on the Board of Supervisors up for grabs.
Mayor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, is in a close race with Republican Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado for the lieutenant governor’s seat.
District Attorney Kamala Harris, also a Democrat, is running neck and neck with Republican Steve Cooley, district attorney of Los Angeles, in the race for attorney general.
In a Field Poll taken last month, Newsom led Maldonado 39 to 35 percent, with 26 percent undecided, and Cooley led Harris 35 to 31 percent, with 34 percent undecided.
Four supervisors, Michela Alioto-Pier in District 2, Chris Daly in District 6, Bevan Dufty in District 8 and Sophie Maxwell in District 10, are in their final terms of office. Alioto-Pier lost a legal challenge to her term limitation last month.
In District 4, covering the Sunset District, Supervisor Carmen Chu is running for re-election unopposed.
Some of the supervisor races feature a wide field of candidates, including 21 contenders in District 10 in the southeastern part of the city.
A central issue in San Francisco, which is dominated by Democrats, remains the balance on the 11-member board of the left-leaning progressives, such as Daly, and those who are more politically moderate, like Dufty, Alioto-Pier and Maxwell.
Progressives right now hold more power on the board, and are often a foil for the more moderate and business-friendly Newsom.
That balance has come to the fore on a wide range of issues, including business and development, law enforcement, social services, tenant rights, homelessness, immigration and public transit.
It has impacted recent decisions by city officials on approving a major housing development for the Bayview District, defeating a fee on alcohol distributors to pay for costs associated with chronic inebriants, and the annual budget battle where law enforcement is often pitted against health and social services.
The two sides have also battled over the approval of an expanded bicycle plan for city neighborhoods, changes to the city’s sanctuary law protecting undocumented immigrants, and a sit-lie ordinance that was rejected by the board but was later added to the ballot by Newsom.
The board would also choose a possible interim mayoral replacement for Newsom if he wins the lieutenant governor’s seat. The replacement would serve until the next election for mayor in November 2011.
The mayor would be responsible for selecting an interim district attorney, should Harris be victorious, until the next district attorney election, also next November.
Ari Burack, Bay City News