Ranked choice lifts Mark Leno into lead

The race to see who will become San Francisco’s next mayor is still up in the air as of early Wednesday morning, with former state Sen. Mark Leno holding a narrow lead over Board of Supervisors president London Breed.

Initial results from Tuesday’s election indicated a large margin in first-place votes for Breed.

However, once San Francisco’s ranked-choice voting system was taken into account with voters selecting their top three choices, Leno took the lead early Wednesday morning with 50.42 percent of the vote compared to 49.58 percent for Breed with potentially thousands more ballots yet to count.

UPDATE 5:06 p.m. Mark Leno lead shrinks to just 1,121 votes.

The final election night ranked-choice tally showed Leno with 69,078 votes and Breed with 67,932 after eight passes, or recalculations, to assign second-place choices for each losing candidate to the remaining contenders as they are eliminated.

San Francisco will continue to count an unknown number of ballots that arrive via mail through Friday. Ballots postmarked as late as Election Day will be counted as they come in, and results will be updated daily by San Francisco elections officials.

The City’s mayoral race had several high-profile candidates, including Supervisor Jane Kim and former Supervisor Angela Alioto. The race was prompted by the unexpected death of Mayor Ed Lee in December.

Following his passing, Breed served as both acting mayor and Board of Supervisors president. However, once she announced she would run for mayor, progressive supervisors pushed for the appointment of a “caretaker” mayor who was not running.

Citing Breed’s dual position as board president and District 5 supervisor, some supervisors argued that having her act as mayor not only gave her an unfair advantage in the upcoming election but also violated the separation of powers envisioned in the city’s charter.

Supervisors eventually voted for then-Supervisor Mark Farrell to be mayor, with his swearing-in taking place in late January.

San Francisco native Breed, 43, grew up in public housing and previously worked as executive director of the African American Art & Culture Complex. She was first elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2012 and was re-elected in 2016.

Leno, 66, served as a San Francisco supervisor from 1998 to 2000, before being elected to the State Assembly in 2002 and then the state Senate in 2008.

The winner of the mayoral race will serve the remainder of Lee’s term, which runs through January 2020.

In the race for The City’s District 8 Supervisor, City College of San Francisco trustee Rafael Mandelman appears to be the winner, handily beating incumbent Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, a longtime HIV and AIDS activist and The City’s first openly HIV-positive supervisor. Sheehy had been appointed by Lee after Scott Wiener was elected to the state Senate.

Mandelman, an affordable housing attorney, earned more than 60 percent of the vote, according to preliminary results. He said in a statement:

“I’ve spent the last twenty years getting to know the residents of the District 8 — learning about their kids’ schools, their favorite dog park and the issues that keep them up at night. … The people who live in this district care deeply about their neighborhoods and their commitment inspires me to be the dedicated supervisor they need.”

Because Mandelman is filling the remainder of Wiener’s term, Mandelman will again run for the seat as an incumbent this November for a full four-year term.

Mandelman said:

“I’m taking my November reelection very seriously. I’ve been fundraising for that race for over a year and have a significant war chest built up.”

In a statement on Twitter tonight Supervisor Jeff Sheehy said: