Supes to vote on Avalos' "Let's Elect Our Elected Officials" measure


The San Francisco Board of Supervisors will vote tomorrow (Tue/15) on whether to submit a charter amendment to the ballot that would require a special election in the event of a vacancy on the Board of Supervisors or in the mayor's office.

As things stand, the mayor holds the power to appoint someone to fill a vacant seat on the board. But Sup. John Avalos' proposed ballot measure, unofficially dubbed "Let's Elect our Elected Officials," would shift that decision-making power to the voters. The measure needs six votes to pass.

If it wins voter approval, the measure would also likely have a significant impact on the city's political landscape in the immediate future.

Sup. David Campos, who is co-sponsoring the initiative, is currently vying for a seat in the 17th Assembly District against Board President David Chiu, a narrow race that will leave a vacancy on the Board one way or another. If Campos, one of the board’s most progressive members, is elected, Mayor Ed Lee would presumably appoint someone to his seat with a rather different political bent.

The ballot needs an additional three votes (beyond its three sponsors) to reach the necessary six votes necessary for approval by the Board, and "it's sort of up in the air at the moment,” according to Jeremy Pollock, Avalos' legislative aide.

Some supervisors are reluctant to go against Lee by limiting mayoral power. Opposition from Sup. Katy Tang, herself a beneficiary of the current rules when she was appointed by Mayor Lee in February 2013, has also had an effect of the amendment's approval.

But supporters of the bill are hoping the overall benefits of the measure will lead the supervisors to approve it.

"John sees this as a good government reform that takes some power away from the mayor and the Board and gives it to the voters," Pollock said, with the hope that it would also work to discourage backroom deals.

Another potential issue raised over the approval of the measure is the cost of special elections, though it appears to be a relatively minor concern. According to the San Francisco Department of Elections, a special election for supervisors costs roughly $300,000 (a drop in the ocean given the city’s multi-billion dollar budget) and around $3.5 million for a citywide election, a substantial sum but also a relatively minor worry given the rarity of vacancies in the mayor’s office. Some might argue that given the importance of the mayor’s duties, that’s a small price to pay to allow the voters to have a say.

In addition to its main rule change, the measure includes a few other provisions, such as making an exception for the proposed rule if a regularly scheduled election would be held within 180 days of the vacancy.

It would also provide “that the Mayor appoints an interim Supervisor to fill a supervisorial vacancy until an election is held to fill that vacancy,” with the key addition that the interim supervisor would be ineligible to compete in that election.

That’s no small stipulation, given the sweeping historic success of incumbents in board re-elections. (Since 2000, when district elections returned, Christina Olague is the only incumbent who failed to gain re-election after being appointed.) Avalos appears set on plugging all holes with his proposed legislation, and it’s now up to the board to place it on the November ballot.


So the Mayor still fills a vacancy on the BOS, the only difference is that the voters can't select that person to stay on, even if they want to.

In other words, Avalos wants to protect the voters from themselves, because other wise the dim witted electorate would vote for the wrong person. Thanks!!!! We needed the help, Supervisor.

Otherwise we would do something stupid.

We're very naive, you know and need your protection.

Also, I LOVE reading about how the cost of elections isn't a significant factor. Because when Ranked Choice Voting was debated that was ALL we head about in the SFBG; the need to get rid of those expensive runoff elections.

And what about the turnout when it is just two unknowns running all by themselves in 10% of the city? Huh? Anybody think about that one? Here is a starting point -- Campos and Chiu, running in half the city with some help from ballot measures and other primaries, got 26% of the voters to turn out.

Well thought out, Supervisor Avalos. Thanks.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 14, 2014 @ 6:50 pm

financing, RCV etc... they STILL have utterly failed to elect a mayor. They do not play power politics effectively and the voters don't want them in charge.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 14, 2014 @ 8:03 pm

The problem with the appointed incumbent is that incumbents have a tremendous advantage in terms of fundraising. If the mayor really wants someone in there, don't appoint that person, let them run on an equal playing field and let the voters decide.

Democracy isn't just about elections. Democracy means free and fair elections. If you were really serious about democracy, then you'd support public financing while simultaneously lifting term limits. But I'm guessing you're just the opposite.

And... correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm also guessing that you don't want this to come up for a vote of the people. Because if it's allowed to come up for a vote, then how did you put it... "the dim-witted electorate might do something stupid." So I guess folks like you want to protect the voters from themselves and make sure this doesn't go on the ballot.

Anyhoo... I'm sure Chiu will give this the 6th vote that it needs. Chiu's all about "our shared progressive values," and democracy is a progressive value, right?


Posted by Greg on Jul. 14, 2014 @ 10:29 pm

No, I don't want to keep it off the ballot because I think that voters are stupid, I want to keep it off the ballot because IT is stupid.

Right now you can vote for whomever you wish. Under this proposal you can vote for whomever you wish EXCEPT the person that the Mayor appointed.

So when an extremely popular Carmen Chu leaves we can't just get Katy Tang to pick up seamlessly where Chu left off. We have to play games instead.

Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, Christina Olague, Eric you want to try to tell me again that voters are so feeble that they can't make a thoughtful decision when an incumbent is involved?

And BTW, when Joe Smith opposes Jane Ross in an election covering 10% of the city, with nothing else on the ballot, the moneyed forces that you despise will have no problem manipulating the resulting 12% turnout.

This will work out for you about as well as RCV has. Probably worse.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 14, 2014 @ 11:41 pm

Just as I thought. You whine about how Avalos is trying to protect the voters from themselves, lest they do something "stupid." And then you turn right around and say that the voters shouldn't get to decide how to run their elections because YOU decided this reform is stupid. The omniscient "Guest" has spoken. The voters need not weigh in on whether something is stupid or not, because "Guest" has already decided it's not worth them worrying their pretty little heads about it.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 15, 2014 @ 7:18 am

And then we have an election.

Moreover part f why we elect a mayor is to make decisions like this rather than pester us all the time.

This is a whole lot of nothing.

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Posted by find peoples phone numbers free on Jul. 23, 2014 @ 1:10 pm

that will get progressives elected?

All that non sense you posted about sense of right and wrong. If you though the present system worked for you, you would be against this.

You are as obvious as a goiter.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 14, 2014 @ 11:42 pm

believe that somewhere out there is the holy grail - a system that will somehow allow a minority to win elections.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 15, 2014 @ 1:28 am

As a progressive, I support more democracy, so if something increases democracy, I'll be in favor.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 15, 2014 @ 7:21 am

One of the things the voters want is not to be asked every few days or weeks or months about this and that. They vote for a system that requires them to elect representatives and then we trust them to make decisions.

So yes, we can have too much democracy. But here is a little test for you. The voters have always rejected public power and yet the quasi-public power thing bypassed the voters and was passed by the Supes.

Do you therefore support that going to the voters even though it may lose as a result?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 15, 2014 @ 8:16 am

You're not just the Official Protector of Voters from themselves, but the Arbiter of What Voters Want.

Like I said: hypocrite.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 15, 2014 @ 6:13 pm

Greg, YOU are claiming to know what the voters want by claiming that they want more elections. How do you claim to know that?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 15, 2014 @ 9:43 pm

I say let's put this proposal on the ballot and let the voters decide. YOU want to protect the voters from themselves and don't want them to even have a say.

Rank hypocrisy.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 15, 2014 @ 10:11 pm

And why aren't you out getting signatures then? Or is that for the little people?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 8:44 pm

means whatever works to your advantage.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 15, 2014 @ 6:38 pm

to the progressives' advantage. If that's true, how does that square with the fact that most progressives still support IRV?

Posted by Greg on Jul. 15, 2014 @ 9:05 pm

>"how does that square with the fact that most progressives still support IRV?"

Because they are desperately clutching at any straw to win some meaningful elections.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 15, 2014 @ 9:19 pm

According to you, IRV has only made progressives' position worse.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 15, 2014 @ 10:12 pm

give them a better chance. There is no evidence they give a crap what the voters want.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 15, 2014 @ 9:44 pm

care about democracy, irrespective of whether it helps them or not, because according to you trolls, IRV harms progressives rather than helps them.

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Posted by reverse phone lookup on Jul. 29, 2014 @ 4:54 am

in your first paragraph you point out that incumbents have a tremendous advantage and you want candidates to run on an equal playing field, but then in your next paragraph you talk about lifting term limits (i.e. a great tool in lessening the powers of an incumbent by making them ineligible).

makes perfect, logical sense.

Posted by GuestD on Jul. 15, 2014 @ 8:23 am

will give Progressives a better chance of winning.

So if a progressive policy or appointment can be made without consulting the voters, he would support that, and especially if he knew the voters would oppose it e.g. appointing a progressive mayor or passing public power.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 15, 2014 @ 8:41 am

Progressives know they can never win the mayor's race or a majority on the BoS so they keep trying to (blatantly) rig the system in their favor and keep what little power they have. District elections. Ranked choice voting. "Ranked choice voting is good because it will save the city money from costly runoff elections (even though it could elect someone that the majority of voters didn't vote for *cough* Jean Quan *cough* but that person will be a progressive so it's okay). But now we should spend money and hold special elections whenever the mayor (because he's always a moderate) has to appoint someone to a vacated seat because uh... more democracy." Only they can never pull it off competently.

Take a look at this proposal. Don't want to let an incumbent run again because of the historic success of incumbency? Fine. Say this passes and Campos leaves. The mayor should just screw progressives by taking their best candidate and appointing him to fill Campos' seat. Said candidate wouldn't be able to run again, leaving the door wide open for a moderate. Next thing you know, progressives would be screaming to high heaven about how the mayor is abusing his power, how he's preventing the best candidate, from running, how he's ignoring the will of the people, how he's making a power play etc. And Greg would be the first one screaming that. More democracy my ass.

And progressives keep asking themselves why they consistently get their asses kicked in citywide elections.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 15, 2014 @ 1:37 pm

Jean Quan did get 51%. In the same way that a candidate wins a traditional runoff with a majority of the voters who participate in the runoff, she won the instant runoff with a majority of the voters who participated in the instant runoff.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 15, 2014 @ 6:10 pm

What Jean Quan did not get was a majority of first place votes.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 15, 2014 @ 6:51 pm

Nor would any candidate who would be forced into a traditional runoff under that kind of a system. What's your point?

Posted by Greg on Jul. 15, 2014 @ 9:02 pm

You need a better poster child for RCV

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Posted by find phone with phone number on Jul. 23, 2014 @ 12:59 pm

Wrong again Greg. Ed Lee had 59,775 first round votes, compared to Avalos's 37,445. Lee beat Avalos at every step in the election by roughly 5-3.

Peralta had 40,342 first round votes, compared to Quan's 29,266. Quan only got in because she got most of Kaplan's votes after their whole "anyone but Don" campaign.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 15, 2014 @ 10:14 pm

Ed Lee got 31%. 31% is not a majority. Period.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 15, 2014 @ 10:22 pm

Did I say Ed Lee had enough first place votes to win the election without a run off? No. I said he received the majority (as in the more than any candidate) of first place votes. Jean Quan also did not get the majority of first place votes.

Quan won because she picked up Kaplan's leftovers after their "anyone but Don" campaign. But more people in Oakland picked Peralta as their first choice than picked Quan. Lee won because voters wanted him (including as their first pick) instead of Avalos by a ratio of 3-2.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 15, 2014 @ 10:43 pm

then come back and talk with the adults when you have a proper command of the English language. Till then... thanks for playing.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 15, 2014 @ 10:55 pm

for anyone to get over 50% of the first place picks. But you overlook an important factor. Because it was obvious that Lee was going to win, many of us who supported Lee put him third knowing that he would not be eliminated. His strong position gave us the luxury of backing a couple of fringe candidates without risking him not winning.

In the "runoff" he got well over 50% and, at all times, he was about 50% above his nearest rival.

For practical purposes, that's a landslide.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 12:00 am

from someone who doesn't know the definition of "majority." But regardless of whether or not the small percentage of the electorate that constitutes the chattering classes was thinking along those lines, I daresay that the great majority of people voted as follows: They voted for their favorite candidate first, for their second favorite candidate second, and if they even thought that far, they voted for their third favorite candidate third. Which, of course, is how IRV is meant to work.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 7:44 am

If you don't like that situation then you should not have supported it.

And putting your top candidate third only works if you are fairly confident that he will not be eliminated, so only Lee really benefited from that.

But whatever dude. Lee won and won big, no matter how you try and spin that away. You lost convincingly.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 8:43 pm

Why in hell would anybody, whether voting tactically or not, put their favorite candidate third? There is no reason whatsoever to do that. The idea behind IRV is that you can put your favorite candidate FIRST without having to worry about whether or not they make some runoff. That's because if they don't make the final round, you have backup votes.

IRV greatly diminishes the need for tactical voting. That said, there are still certain unique instances where tactical voting might be advantageous. But a race where you can be all but certain that your favorite candidate will make the final round, is definitely NOT one of them.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 9:04 pm

That is how Perata lost in Oakland.

Again, you do not always put your favorite candidate first in IRV because you do not need to. and in fact some leftists here were suggesting putting the Green first in the last mayoral race even though she could not win - just to boost the green vote.

People have all kinds of reasons to vote the way they do. You're not in charge of that

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 9:29 pm

But your "evidence" is specious.

If "some leftists" called for voting for the Green Party candidate to boost the Green vote (incidentally I don't recall anyone but h Brown advocating that, and h wasn't exactly a leftist), the results in any case don't support your point at all. IIRC, the Green Party candidate did worse than Green Party registration, and that's because the Green Party didn't run a strong candidate. Not many people liked the Green Party candidate, so not many people voted for her. Even among those who might want to increase the "Green vote," i.e., Green Party members.

Perata didn't lose because of tactical voting. Perata lost because a majority of Oaklanders preferred anyone but Don Perata. Some liked Quan more than Kaplan, and they voted Quan, then Kaplan. Others liked Kaplan more than Quan, and they voted Kaplan first then Quan. But it's fair to say that the great majority of people who voted for those two preferred both of them miles above Perata. This isn't tactical voting. This is basic preferential voting.

A runoff among the same electorate would have produced the same result. Of course a runoff would have had lower turnout and been dominated by money that would have made the race devolve into a mudfest of negative campaigning, problems that IRV helped alleviate.

Just as you have no clue on what "majority" means, you also demonstrate that you have no clue what "tactical voting" means. You really ought to quit before you put your foot in your mouth some more.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 10:00 pm

Perata lost not because he wasn't liked the most (he clearly was) but because a majority didn't like him.

So there was an "anyone but Perata" vote and that is tactical voting.

In a straight runoff there cannot be tactical voting, but in a contrived runoff such as RCv imposes, there most definitely is.

It's not enough to defeat Lee because he was so far ahead. But Perata succumbed.

I know for a face that many Lee supporters put him third. Another reason why he didn't get a huge vote first time around is that the center was split whereas Avalos had no competition on the left. The result flattered Avalos.

But hey, believe whatever you need to. You obviously need to believe that Lee didn;t really win

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 10:19 pm

look up "tactical voting." Then get back to me.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 10:41 pm

admission that someone has run out of arguments. I'll accept your concession.

Not that it matters either way. Lee is mayor any which way you try and spin it.

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Posted by reverse phone lookup on Jul. 29, 2014 @ 3:44 am

Ed Lee represents no one.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 15, 2014 @ 7:18 pm

Your opinion and it's in the minority (outside of your own little echo chamber). Most people in this city think he's doing a decent job as mayor (60%) and is probably gonna cruise to reelection. But who knows. Maybe a progressive could get elected mayor. It's been almost 30 years, you could be due. Naaaahhh....

Oh yeah. How well is Quan doing in Oakland? I read her approval rating has risen to 25%. Woohoo! Progress!

Posted by Guest on Jul. 15, 2014 @ 8:55 pm

Mind you, I'm not a Jean Quan fan at this point, but according to the latest poll, she leads both first choice ballots and the IRV against her closest opponent.

The caveat is that her strongest opponent is from the Ignacio de la Fuente -Jerry Brown axis, and that's something Oaklanders have had enough of. If that's the choice, I'd hold my nose and give Quan my third place vote too, over that! However... if a strong progressive like Rebecca Kaplan were to enter the race, she'd probably win. That's what the polling suggested in November, and Kaplan is in fact expected to enter the race.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 15, 2014 @ 9:20 pm

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