Update, Nov. 17: Ann Hsu conceded in a video posted Thursday morning.
“While the results are not entirely what we wanted,” she said, “I wish the newly elected board members the very best.”
In the video, Hsu mentioned the records of her work on the board during her eight-month appointed term and hinted she will continue to fight for public education.
“Not being on the board gives me freedom to focus solely on advocating for students and families.”
At a joyful election night party last week, Ann Hsu, the mayoral appointee joined supporters in celebrating initial results that put her 8,240 votes ahead of progressive challenger Alida Fisher for the third and last seat on the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education.
But that comfortable lead only shrank with each new round of returns. Now, Hsu is thousands of votes behind, and will likely lose her seat.
Hsu declined to comment Wednesday afternoon, but said she will release a video statement soon.
Hsu rose through the ranks of Asian American activists and parents mobilizing during the pandemic for a school board recall to become the face of the campaign, appearing in Chinese-language TV ads and leading press conferences advocating for new leadership on the SFUSD board.
Voters heeded her call.
In February, San Franciscans voted to remove three school board members in a landslide. With Hsu’s profile elevated in the national press, it came as little surprise when Mayor London Breed appointed her as one of three replacements, alongside Lainie Motamedi and Lisa Weissman-Ward.
The trio formed a voting bloc on the board that went on to restore a controversial academic-based Lowell High School admission policy.
They also banded together to campaign to keep their seats in the fall election—at least until July, when Hsu made remarks that fractured the alliance.
The fallout stemmed from a candidate questionnaire in which Hsu said she believed Black and Latino students struggle in school because of a “lack of family support.” The statement caused a political firestorm, with critics slamming Hsu as racist and tone-deaf.
Hsu apologized, but the controversy had momentum, prompting a slew of elected officials and powerful groups like the NAACP and the San Francisco Democratic Party to demand her resignation.
Though she resisted calls to step down, Hsu acknowledged her mistake, joining her board colleagues in an August vote to formally admonish her.
In an exclusive interview with The Standard that month, Hsu said she was “trying to understand a problem” when she wrote down the divisive questionnaire statement and didn’t mean to offend anyone.
Motamedi and Weissman-Ward went on to campaign without Hsu, who doubled down on garnering support from the Asian American community as the only Asian candidate in the race.
But Hsu was more persuasive in campaigning for the recall than for her own election.
The latest results leave Hsu languishing in fourth place, about 3,600 votes behind Fisher while Weissman-Ward and Motamedi, safely secured their places on the board.
Han Li can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org