The contentious race for District 4 supervisor remains up in the air with challenger Joel Engardio maintaining a slim lead over incumbent Gordon Mar, according to the latest returns from the Department of Elections.
Results released at 4 p.m. Thursday, with more than half of ballots counted, show Engardio with 51.71% of the vote versus Mar with 48.29%.
With an outcome that may shape the city’s politics for years to come, the race for District 4 Supervisor is one of the more closely watched local contests in San Francisco.
If elected, Engardio, a moderate-backed candidate, will strengthen Mayor London Breed’s power, as will the apparent win by incumbent Matt Dorsey in District 6. Mar, a progressive voice on the board, won the election in 2018 by defeating his moderate opponent Jessica Ho.
If Engardio wins, it would mark the first time a challenger defeated an elected incumbent district supervisor. His victory would also break District 4’s two-decade tradition of electing Chinese American supervisors.
In the early 2010s, the Board of Supervisors had up to five Asian American members serving at the same time. But if Engardio knocks out Mar, that would leave the board with only one Asian American supervisor: Connie Chan.
In his campaign, Engardio, a public safety advocate, capitalized on his support for the recalls of school board members Allison Collins, Gabriela López and Faauuga Moliga—as well as District Attorney Chesa Boudin—which were popular in the Sunset. In contrast, Mar received significant criticism over his ambivalence toward the recalls.
The race had significant third-party campaign spending. Labor groups including the San Francisco Labor Council PAC Labor Neighbor spent close to $260,000 in support of Mar, including attack mailers against Engardio. Other groups such as GrowSF spent over $90,000 in support of Engardio. Both campaigns spent around $250,000.
Redistricting, which took place earlier this year amid multiple controversies, also played a role in Engardio’s strong early showing. He did best in southeastern precincts, including his own neighborhood of Lakeshore, which along with Merced Manor, had been moved to District 4 from District 7.
The Department of Elections will continue to count the ballots through the long weekend. The next round of results will be released Friday afternoon.
Engardio said he confident he’ll maintain his lead.
“It’s encouraging to see that with each new count, my lead over the incumbent continues to grow,” he told The Standard. “I believe that voters are responding to my campaign’s positive vision for creating our best San Francisco.”
Mar did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But in a tweet, he said the race remains uncertain and that he looks forward to all the ballots being counted.