SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – San Francisco Mayor London Breed easily skated to re-election Tuesday, but her ability to tackle the city's most vexing problems like homelessness and drug addiction on her own terms hangs in the balance as two key races remained too close to call Wednesday morning.
Breed, who had no well-known competitors vying for her office this year, needs allies in two key positions – the district attorney's office and her former seat on the Board of Supervisors. As of Wednesday morning, both races were still neck and neck.
Breed's ally, former Police Commission president Suzy Loftus, held a slim lead over her chief rival Chesa Boudin, a city public defender who promised to bring radical criminal justice reform, end mass incarceration and boost non-prosecution diversion programs.
Boudin beat Loftus in first-choice votes, 32.9% to 30.9%, but the city's ranked-choice voting system, which counts the second and third-choice picks of voters who selected other candidates, changed the equation. When factoring in ranked-choice votes, Loftus pulled ahead with a slim lead of 240 votes over Boudin, 50.13% to 49.87%.
Loftus, who presents herself as a moderate in San Francisco terms, has promised to hold police accountable and defer prosecution in cases where warranted, but not to go easy on violent and repeat offenders. Since she was appointed interim DA by the mayor last month, Loftus ended a program that deferred prosecution for first-time, low-level DUI cases. She also announced the creation of a task force to combat car break-ins.
If Boudin wins, Breed would find herself in a weakened state with less power to control how the city tackles issues such as vehicle break-ins, property crimes, illegal camping and drug dealing.
The city's Board of Supervisors, which approves the budget and passes ordinances, is another place where the mayor needs allies. In the District 5 Supervisor race, Breed's close ally, incumbent Vallie Brown, was losing to her progressive rival and tenants’ rights advocate Dean Preston by a scant 218 out of 12,660 votes, including ranked-choice votes.
The 11-member board, which already leans slightly to the left of Mayor Breed, could become even more resistant to the mayor's agenda if Brown fails to pull off a victory. No other supervisor seats were up for election this year.
The final outcome for both races will likely be unknown for days as the city counts mail-in and provisional ballots.
San Francisco voters overwhelming rejected a ballot measure launched by San Francisco vaping giant Juul. Proposition C would have replaced the city's ban on e-cigarette sales with a lighter set of regulations. The measure failed, 80.4% to 19.5%.
Juul pulled its support for Proposition C at the end of September after spending $11 million of the $18 million it had dedicated to the campaign.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who co-sponsored legislation to ban e-cigarette sales not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said in a statement Tuesday night that city residents "are too smart" to be fooled by Juul and "Big Tobacco."
"Juul spent millions trying to mislead San Franciscans and rewrite the rules to benefit itself before realizing that was a fool’s errand," Herrera said, adding the company should have instead used those resources to complete the required FDA review for its products.
The FDA classified e-cigarettes as tobacco products subject to regulation in 2016, but it extended the deadline to review those products until August 2022.
Voters also approved Proposition D, a tax on Uber and Lyft rides to fund road improvements and traffic congestion mitigation, 66.6% to 33.3%.
Mayor Breed also received some good news Tuesday in learning that voters approved two measures she backed to help combat the city's affordable housing crisis.
Voters approved Proposition E, which allows the city to build teacher housing on public land with 74.5% to 25.5% of the vote. They also approved Proposition A, a $600 million bond to fund affordable housing with 69.5% to 30.5% of the vote.