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District 2 candidate loses legal bid to move up election

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BART board member Nick Josefowitz is running to represent District 2 on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. (Jessica Christian/2017 S.F. Examiner)

District 2 candidate Nick Josefowitz’s attempt to move up the election to June officially ended Monday after the state Court of Appeal ruled against him.

Josefowitz, a BART board member, filed a lawsuit Feb. 1 seeking to overturn a determination by City Attorney Dennis Herrera that the District 2 election should still be held in November after Mark Farrell vacated the seat. He argued the contest should be in June, when the District 8 contest is also being decided.

Farrell, who was named interim mayor in late January, subsequently appointed his former aide Catherine Stefani to serve as the District 2 supervisor.

For Josefowitz, moving the contest to June would have diluted some of the incumbency power Stefani will benefit from. In addition, if Josefowitz lost in June he could have still had the option to run for BART board in November.

However, Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn denied Josefowitz’s lawsuit on Feb. 15. Kahn acknowledged the charter provisions over the timing of vacancy elections was a bit confusing but determined the November contest “is more likely consistent with the intent” of the voters who approved the charter provisions in 2001.

Josefowitz appealed, but his appeal was struck down Monday.

Josefowitz said Monday that he still stands by his “interpretation” of the city charter and that he was “disappointed that City Hall and the appointed Supervisor have managed to convince the court to delay this election.”

Both the City Attorney’s Office and Stefani’s attorney Jim Sutton argued the city’s charter calls for the contest to occur in November.

Stefani’s political consultant Jill Golub said, “We applaud the court for seeing this lawsuit for what it was.”

Josefewitz has also sought to impose term limits through a ballot measure he is backing, which would block a potential former District 2 supervisor from entering the race against him in November.

“This wise decision hopefully will put an end to these schemes and save taxpayers millions of dollars,” Golub said.

“City Attorney Herrera is grateful for the quick response from the Court of Appeal,” said Herrera’s spokesperson John Cote. “We take seriously our obligation to enforce the will of the voters. That’s what we did here when deciding that the District 2 election must take place in November. This ruling is a common sense result that squares with what voters intended.”

In addition to Stefani and Josefowitz, the District 2 contest includes candidates Kat Anderson, a lawyer and Recreation and Park Commission, and Schuyler Hudak, founder of a media startup.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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