Incumbent judges set to keep their seats despite challenge from public defenders

Four San Francisco judges appear likely to keep their robes after taking a strong lead over a group of veteran public defenders in early voting results Tuesday night, according to early election results.

San Francisco Superior Court judges Andrew Cheng, Curtis Karnow, Cynthia Lee and Jeffrey Ross each beat out their contenders who attempted to frame them as conservative judges appointed to the bench by Republican governors.

The incumbent judge were up against deputy public defenders Maria Evangelista, Kwixuan Maloof, Niki Solis and Phoenix Streets, who argued that the judges were out of sync with the progressive ethos of San Francisco.

But three of the four judges are lifelong Democrats and the fourth, Lee, registered as a Democrat after the election began. Lee was previously registered with no party preference and before that as a Republican.

In results based on mail-in ballots, Cheng won over Streets 72 percent to 27.5 percent, Karnow over Evangelista 62.32 to 37.2 percent, Lee over Maloof 69.5 to 19.8 percent and Ross over Solis 67.6 percent to 31.9 percent. Lee also beat out Elizabeth Zareh, an attorney and real estate broker who currently serves as a temporary judge in San Francisco and who won 10.3 percent of the vote.

Michael Barba
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Michael Barba

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