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Politics & Policy

Engardio leads Mar, but SF Sunset supervisor’s race still too close to call

District 4 Supervisor candidate Joel Engardio speaks to a crowd at his election night party at Noriega Teriyaki House on Nov. 8, 2022. | Chris Victorio for The Standard

Joel Engardio, the challenger in San Francisco’s District 4 supervisor’s race, has expanded his small lead over incumbent Supervisor Gordon Mar to more than 400 votes, according to the fourth batch of results from the Department of Elections.

Mar, a former labor union leader elected in 2018, was running a hard battle this year for reelection. The 11:45 p.m. results showed that he’s lagging behind Engardio, with each receiving 48% and 52% of the votes, respectively.

Tuesday night's report only counts ballots mailed before Election Day. Later tonight, in-person polling places’ ballots will start to be counted, but that’s likely to be a small number.

Engardio said Tuesday night that he’s “cautiously optimistic.”

The D4 race is a typical political fight between the progressive and moderate camps, the outcome of which may shape the politics in the city’s legislature for future years.

Supervisor Gordon Mar addressed reporters on being 350 votes behind challenger Joel Engardio on Tuesday night. Mar said he’s not surprised about the early result, and it’s still early, as approximately more than half of the ballots are yet to be counted. He said the early votes “tend to be most conservative.”

The moderate-backed Engardio, who ran on public safety and school board recall issues, tried to unseat the progressive Mar, who opposed the recalls.

However, Mar has the advantage of incumbency as elected supervisors rarely get defeated in reelection. And his ethnic identity may help, too, because the Sunset, an Asian American-majority district, has a long tradition of electing Chinese American supervisors.

This year’s D4 election started with three candidates and soon got filled with rounds of political controversy and even legal challenges.

Leanna Louie, a former candidate for the race and a well-known activist rising from the recall movement, was disqualified from the ballot because she failed to prove her residency requirement. Louie later sued the city but lost in court, leaving the race to a one-on-one battle between Engardio and Mar.

Results from the rest of the uncounted ballots, which may be greater in number than the ballots counted today, will be released in chunks starting Thursday.

Han Li can be reached at