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Politics & Policy

Booted from ballot: Controversial SF candidate disqualified for failing to prove residency

Leanna Louie (center) speaks at a rally outside the Hall of Justice in San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, August 10, 2022. Louie and other API community members gathered to attend the preliminary hearing of Derrick Yearby, who attacked former city commissioner Greg Chew. | Juliana Yamada/The Standard

Polarizing political figure Leanna Louie will not be on the ballot for November’s District 4 supervisor race, the City Attorney’s Office announced Friday.

The determination aborted a brief campaign filled with drama from the start.

The supervisor race in District 4—which encompasses the Outer Sunset as well as the Parkside and Lakeshore neighborhoods—will now only have two candidates, incumbent Gordon Mar and public safety advocate Joel Engardio.

Louie admitted to sleeping in three other San Francisco homes outside District 4 on a regular basis. She was thus unable to prove she had established true residency in District 4, even though she has been renting a room there for $500 a month since March 1. Election law requires candidates to establish residency a month before declaring candidacy.

Louie and her lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The investigation came after Mission Local reported that Louie voted in District 10 in April, even though she had registered at a District 4 address in March.

The City Attorney’s Office met with Louie earlier this week, and posted the results of the probe today.

Louie initially told the office she has showered and slept every day in the Sunset since March 1, except for one week in April.

But during the interviews, she couldn’t back up that assertion.

In one exchange, she conceded that she didn’t get a mattress in her Sunset room until later in March and thus did not sleep there every night that month. She also conceded to regularly staying at her father’s home and her fiancé’s home, depending on which was closest.

And in addition to voting in a different district, she also failed to update her driver’s license and other mailing addresses to the Sunset address.

After Mission Local questioned her living situation, Louie took steps to shore up her District 4 residency—but it was too little, too late, according to the City Attorney’s Office.

Louie rose to prominence in the city’s political scene after leading a group of mostly Asian constituents who would protest former District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s public appearances. 

In her short tenure as District 4 candidate, she was the subject of several political scandals. In addition to the residency issue, she also came under fire for implying veteran Jewish journalist Joe Eskenazi, who penned the article questioning her residency, was a Nazi in social media posts that played on his last name. 

Louie’s troubles aren’t over yet.

The Department of Elections also referred her to the District Attorney’s Office for potential voter fraud. Because both Louie and District Attorney Brooke Jenkins worked on the campaign to recall Boudin, Jenkins has asked the California Attorney General’s Office to take over, according to a DA spokesperson.

Louie’s former opponents both praised the City Attorney’s Office for preserving election integrity.

“I thank the City Attorney for doing the right thing,” Engardio told The Standard. “I’m looking forward to a clean and fair election.”

“Aspiring lawmakers,” Mar tweeted, “shouldn’t be lawbreakers.”

Jonah Owen Lamb contributed additional reporting for this story.