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Here’s what San Francisco voters will consider in the March 2024 election

a graphic illustration of ballots and voting
On March 5, San Francisco voters will decide whether to kick two Superior Court judges off the bench, elect influential Democratic and Republican party officials and vote on seven local ballot measures.

Next year will be a busy election season in San Francisco, with high-stakes races up and down the ballot. 

A November general election could reshape the city’s governance, along with elections for U.S. president, Congress, the state legislature and ballot initiatives. In San Francisco, the March primary election—just over three months away—will also include a slew of local ballot measures and races with major implications for future elections. 

On March 5, San Francisco voters will decide whether to kick two Superior Court judges off the bench, elect influential Democratic and Republican party officials and vote on issues ranging from combating drug addiction and oversight of the police department to new ethics rules for local officials. 

Local Ballot Measures

San Francisco’s March ballot measures address multiple hot-button issues, ranging from housing and crime to education. A few have been especially contentious, reflecting major policy disagreements between Mayor London Breed and the progressive majority on the Board of Supervisors. 

Proposition A: Affordable Housing Bond

The first measure, however, enjoys wide support among elected officials. That’s a $300 million general obligation bond to fund subsidized affordable housing. The bond was negotiated between Breed and affordable housing advocates as part of a July housing deal. It will need to be approved by two-thirds of voters. 

Proposition B: Police Officer Staffing Conditioned on Future Funding

Supervisor Matt Dorsey originally drafted this measure to mandate new police hiring and retention. But while it was in committee, Supervisor Ahsha Safaí added an amendment conditioning the hiring push on new funding—very likely a tax. Breed, Dorsey and their allies have derided it as a “cop tax,” arguing that the city should staff the police department with existing funds. Safaí and organized labor say the final version could help boost public safety hiring, not just police. 

Three SFPD officers stand in the middle of the street forcing traffic to detour behind orange cones.
Proposition E would allow greater surveillance capabilities and change oversight of the San Francisco Police Department. | Source: RJ Mickelson/The Standard

Proposition C: Real Estate Transfer Tax Exemption and Office Space Allocation

This measure would waive the tax for transferring properties from office to residential uses. The goal of the measure is to encourage the conversion of some office buildings as part of revitalizing Downtown.

Proposition D: Changes to Local Ethics Laws

Sponsored by the Ethics Commission, this anti-corruption measure would reform the city’s conflict-of-interest laws with more explicit prohibitions on gifts to public officials. It would also mandate more ethics training for those officials and make other changes in response to ethics scandals in recent years.  

Proposition E: Police Department Policies and Procedures

Sponsored by Breed in response to perceived micromanagement of police by the Police Commission, this measure would allow police to install security cameras on public property and use drones to monitor certain crimes, expedite reporting procedures for officers’ use of force, and require the commission to gather more feedback from the public. 

Proposition F: Illegal Substance Dependence Screening and Treatment for Recipients of Public Assistance

Born out of the political furor over the city’s drug overdose and homelessness crises, this measure will require single adults receiving county welfare who are suspected of being addicted to illegal drugs to undergo screening and obtain some form of treatment. Breed placed the measure on the ballot after several supervisors denounced it as punitive and out of step with the city’s values. 

Proposition G: Offering Algebra 1 to Eighth Graders

Sponsored by a majority of the Board of Supervisors at the request of Supervisor Joel Engardio, this nonbinding policy statement urges the San Francisco Unified School District to offer Algebra 1 to students by the eighth grade. The district is already planning to undo its 2014 policy of removing the course from middle schools, but the measure will surely bring out voters who support the reform.

County Central Committees

Down-ballot central committee races, often ignored by voters, could get outsize attention this year. The Democratic County Central Committee is the governing board of the San Francisco Democratic Party and—in addition to making influential endorsements—it’s perceived as a farm team for future candidates. In March, moderate Democrats are angling to take control of the committee by running a 24-person slate that includes up-and-comers such as Trevor Chandler and Marjan Philhour, both of whom are running for the Board of Supervisors. 

“Moderates haven’t done well in DCCC races. It’s been a decade of failure,” pollster and longtime political observer David Latterman said. “But a centralized big-money effort with big, important endorsing names to do this, clearly stating the importance of the DCCC, might make a difference.”

There’s a push for change even on the far less influential Republican County Central Committee: The Briones Society, which describes itself as a “center-right” Republican group, is running a slate with the hopes of reenergizing the local Republican party. 

Local Offices: Superior Court Judge, Seats 1 and 13

Superior Court judges are often appointed by the governor but must stand for election during their terms if another lawyer chooses to run against them. With frustrations over crime running high, two incumbent judges are being challenged. Michael Begert, who occupies Seat 1, is facing corporate lawyer Albert “Chip” Zecher.

a man in a suit and woman in a red top sit at a table with microphones with a banner that says "stop crime action."
Albert “Chip” Zecher, a corporate lawyer, left, and Assistant District Attorney Jean Myungjin Roland participate in a debate for judicial candidates on Dec. 7. Zecher and Roland are challenging Judges Patrick Thompson and Michael Begert for seats on San Francisco's Superior Court. | Source: Gina Castro/The Standard

Patrick Thompson, who holds Seat 13, is being challenged by prosecutor Jean Myungjin Roland. Judicial incumbents were singled out early on in an anonymous poster campaign, while their supporters have accused challengers of putting undue political pressure on the bench. 

State Issues: Proposition 1

There’s only one statewide ballot measure on the March 2024 ballot. Proposition 1 would authorize $6.38 billion in general obligation bonds for mental health and substance abuse treatment and housing facilities, totaling 11,000 beds. It would also change how state mental health funding is used, with a greater emphasis on state facilities. It’s supported by Gov. Gavin Newsom, state Sen. Susan Eggman, and an ideologically diverse bloc of organizations. Opponents argue that it could usher in a return to “forced institutionalization.”

California Legislature

The March ballot will also include primary races for the state Legislature. State Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat who enjoys broad support in San Francisco’s moderate political bloc, is running for reelection now that he isn’t running for Congress. He has three challengers: Democratic community volunteer Cynthia Cravens; Jingchao Xiong, a Chinatown delivery driver with no party affiliation; and Yvette Corkrean, a Republican activist and former spouse of Don Carmignani, the onetime fire commissioner now embroiled in a sensational assault case.

State. Sen Scott Wiener speaking to journalists near the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.
State Sen. Scott Wiener is facing three challengers in his reelection race. | Source: Gina Castro/The Standard

In the state Assembly, incumbent Assemblymember Matt Haney, a Democrat who represents the eastern half of town, is running against Democratic tenant activist Otto Duke and Republican real estate agent Manuel Noris-Barrera. On the west side, Assemblymember Phil Ting is termed out, leaving an open seat. District 2 Supervisor Catherine Stefani is running and considered the favorite. She’s facing nonprofit educator David Lee, who ran unsuccessfully for supervisor three times.

Federal Races: U.S. Senate

Among March federal races, the primary to succeed the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein is the most interesting. Three Democratic members of the House of Representatives, Reps. Katie Porter, Barbara Lee, and Adam Schiff, are competing to fill her shoes. (Sen. Laphonza Butler, the former labor leader appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom after Feinstein’s death, won’t be running.) The race also includes one well-known Republican, the former Major League Baseball All-Star Steve Garvey. The top two vote-getters in the March primary, regardless of party affiliation, will advance to the November general election.  

U.S. House of Representatives

Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi is running for another term and is virtually certain to win a decisive victory. Pelosi represents most of San Francisco, but certain southern neighborhoods such as the Excelsior, Visitacion Valley and Crocker-Amazon share a congressional district with Peninsula cities. Democrat Kevin Mullin won that congressional seat after longtime Rep. Jackie Speier did not seek reelection in 2022. Mullin is running against Republican real estate professional Anna Cheng Kramer.

U.S. President

In San Francisco—one of the bluest cities in deep-blue California—Democratic presidential candidates get wide support. While President Joe Biden is the favorite to win the Democratic nomination, he has a handful of challengers, most notably Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips, who has curried some support from big-dollar tech donors. The California Secretary of State hasn’t yet issued the final list of qualified candidates but posted a provisional list of “generally recognized” candidates, including Phillips and New Age guru Marianne Williamson.

On the Republican side, former President Donald Trump is the favorite to win the nomination among a list of contenders that includes former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

Clarification: This article has been updated to clarify the details of Proposition F.