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Politics & Policy

‘San Francisco has not abandoned its values,’ says Breed after decisive moderate election victories

A woman in a white suit speaks at a podium with microphones, inside a grand hall with ornate architecture.
Mayor London Breed speaks at City Hall the day after the March primary results on Wednesday. Breed rejected the idea that San Francisco has somehow become a hotbed of conservative politics. | Source: Gabriel Greschler/The Standard

After a primary election that led some to wonder whether San Francisco has abandoned his reputation for progressivism, winners from last night’s contest flatly rejected the idea that the city has somehow become a hotbed of conservative politics.

At the helm of Tuesday’s victory boat was Mayor London Breed, who saw two of her ballot propositions succeed with overwhelming support from voters—Prop. E and F, efforts that she promises will deliver results in strengthening police and clamping down on drug use. Another one of her measures, Prop. C, was leading Tuesday night, though there are still many ballots left to be counted.

All three ballot measures, but mostly E and F, saw sharp criticism coming from the city’s progressive wing, who claimed they would roll back hard-fought wins in law enforcement reform and harm the city’s most vulnerable residents. Others in the left-leaning camp described Prop. C, which waives the transfer tax for office-to-housing conversations, as a handout to developers.

During a triumphant press conference Wednesday, Breed defended her slate of propositions, claiming that they amounted to not being “hard on crime” but “being smart and being balanced and being fair.” Voters were looking for a “back to basics” approach from city governing, she said.

But the mayor also walked an ideological tightrope, maintaining that San Francisco hadn’t lost sight of the liberal values many in the city and around the country know it for.

Four people are closely gathered, looking intently at a smartphone that one of them is holding. They appear engaged and curious.
A group of Democratic County Central Committee candidates checked election results at Anina in Hayes Valley, where GrowSF hosted an election night party on Tuesday. Moderates notched several wins in the race. | Source: Camille Cohen for The Standard

“San Francisco has not abandoned its values of being a leader on LGBTQ rights, on women’s issues, on supporting our trans community … the many things San Francisco is known for,” said Breed. “This is a place for support. This is a place for diversity. A place for opportunity.”

Breed also acknowledged there were some seemingly progressive wins in the city and that all of the results weren’t tracking toward a moderate blowout. Prop. A, a $300 million affordable housing bond that had widespread support among elected officials, had a slim lead as of Tuesday evening. That measure requires a two-thirds majority to pass.

With the primary election mostly in the rearview mirror, attention is now turning to who the Democratic County Central Committee will endorse for the mayoral contest in November, a decision that could prove to be a decisive move for the outcome of the election.

Last night’s results were promising for moderate candidates, with members of the moderate Democrats for Change slate representing most of the top vote-getters. If moderates wind up gaining control of the DCCC, disagreements may arise over who the body should endorse for mayor in November.

“I think it’s safe to presume that different members of the slate may have a different choice for mayor,” said Todd David, the political director for Abundant SF, a political advocacy organization that helped support the moderate DCCC candidates.

Mayor London Breed addresses the questions about the amount of funding that went into supporting the slate of moderate causes in the March election at City Hall on March 6. | Source: Gabe Greschler/The Standard

A day before the primary contest, Breed released her DCCC preferences and notably left out Jade Tu, who looks likely to land a committee seat and is mayoral candidate Mark Farrell’s campaign manager. Breed also did not endorse Bilal Mahmood, whom she previously declined to appoint for a supervisor seat.

“I think they may pick several of the moderates” in the mayor’s race, said the co-founder of the moderate-leaning GrowSF advocacy group, Steven Buss. “I think picking just one may be a mistake.”

On Wednesday, Breed said she had spoken with a number of the moderate DCCC candidates and was “feeling optimistic” about her chances of receiving endorsements.

But she also left the door open for a competitive contest.

“I definitely am not taking anything for granted,” she said. “I still need to have a conversation with those who I have not had a conversation with to ensure that I have their support—or not.”