San Francisco has finally finished its redistricting, a fraught process punctuated by protests and walkouts towards the end of an arduous seven months of meetings. Much of the controversy and speculation surrounding it was over how the new district lines could change the ideological makeup of the Board of Supervisors. But it seems that any changes will likely not materialize soon.
This November, only the even-numbered districts are up for reelection. Those interested in running have up to June 14 to file. Barring any game-changing challengers, some political pros predict few, if any, changes among board incumbents up for reelection this year.
“Incumbents, apart from those appointed, are tough to beat,” said Jim Ross, a campaign consultant who has worked on both sides of San Francisco’s ideological aisles.
Veteran pollster and consultant David Latterman agreed: “We haven’t had any drastic changes in any of the districts in the last 22 years. People are expecting a big sweeping change that isn’t supported by history.”
- The home of what consultants have in the past tartly termed “Specific Whites” may have lost Seacliff and parts of Russian Hill, but on the whole the district retains its complexion. The district did gain retirement communities on Cathedral Hill, but that likely won’t change much for its reputation as a moderate district.
- Incumbent Supervisor Catherine Stefani faces no challengers as of yet.
- One possible complication could arise: if District Attorney Chesa Boudin is recalled this June, and Stefani is appointed as his replacement by Mayor London Breed—as is a rumored possibility—this seat could become a wide open race with an appointed incumbent. Still, any viable challengers would reflect the district’s moderate leanings.
- The eternally foggy Sunset district gained two of the more conservative neighborhoods from District 7. Most precincts in the Lakeshore and Merced Manor neighborhoods voted over 90% in favor of all three school board recall measures in February’s special election.
- GrowSF, a moderate PAC, has targeted incumbent Supervisor Gordon Mar for removal. That said, the two challengers which have filed so far, attorney Ryan Griffith and retired electrician Robert Miller, a Republican, are political unknowns.
- “[District 4] may get a little more conservative, but it’s not going to be enough to replace an incumbent like Mar,” says Latterman. “You’re going to need an open seat for change there.“
- This district is set for an open seat, with incumbent Supervisor Matt Haney having been elected as assemblymember. It’s also a wild card, with one of the city’s centers of progressive political power, the Tenderloin, moved to District 5 under the new map.
- New lines give a new chance for a moderate to represent the newer neighborhoods in the district, such as Mission Bay and Rincon Hill. It’s going to be up to Mayor London Breed to make the right choice for an appointee who can assemble the requisite base. Based on past experience, that’s a tall order.
- The experts we talked to are split on the implications. “I think 6 will be the big fight… redistricting had a significant impact,” said Ross.
- “D6 won’t change because there are no good alternatives,” said Latterman. “Campaigns and boots on the ground matter more than district lines in this case. They haven’t changed enough that you can helicopter in and win a district. Honey [Mahogany] has Haney’s support, she’ll have the Democratic Party, she’ll have the infrastructure.”
- The Tenderloin has always been a focus of the affordable housing developers and service nonprofits which provided core support to progressive candidates in District 6. But the same is true for much of SoMa.
- During the redistricting process, District 8 incumbent Supervisor Rafael Mandelman got kicked out of his own district at least once—but now he’s back in, right on the border. There are no profound changes to his district, and no serious candidates have filed against him yet.
- Another incumbent briefly at risk from redistricting was the current Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton in District 10. A move to remove Potrero Hill and replace it with Portola would have split his political base. With that threat removed, Walton is probably now safe in his district, despite facing fiery grassroots activist Gloria Berry as an opponent.
- Those looking for bigger changes may have to wait two years. “Districts 1, 5, and 7 had closer races,” said Latterman. “The even numbers are boring.”
Correction: The deadline to file nomination documents to run for supervisor this November is June 14. The deadline for filing signatures in lieu of filing fees is May 15.
Mike Ege can be reached at [email protected]