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Leno files court action to remove ‘acting mayor’ title from Breed’s entry on ballot

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(Mira Laing/Special to S.F. Examiner; Courtesy Photo)

Mayoral candidate Mark Leno has filed a writ against The City of San Francisco to remove the “Acting Mayor” title from London Breed’s entry on the June ballot.

Filed in San Francisco Superior Court on Tuesday afternoon, the writ, which was obtained by Mission Local and had not yet been posted online at the time of publication, specifically directs the court to compel Department of Elections Director John Arntz to remove the designation.

The writ reads, “Because Breed is not the Acting Mayor of San Francisco, and does not perform any mayoral duties, her chosen ballot designation is not factually accurate and it misleads the voters in violation of the California Elections Code.”

Leno’s campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.

Breed, who is president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, became acting mayor after the death of Mayor Ed Lee early morning on Dec. 12, but relinquished that role when her colleagues on the board voted to instate Supervisor Mark Farrell as mayor on Jan. 23.

However, Breed filed to run for mayor while she was still acting mayor, which resulted in that designation being used on the ballot.

In a statement, City Attorney’s Office spokesperson John Cote said Arntz does not himself have the “discretion” to “unilaterally change ballot designations at this point.”

However, Cote added, “We’ll follow whatever the court directs us to do.”

The only concern on the part of The City, Cote said, is making sure the order fits the timetable for the Department Elections to print ballot materials.

Breed’s campaign spokesperson Tara Moriarty wrote, in a statement, that the designation of “Acting Mayor” is out of Breed’s hands.

“President Breed was Acting Mayor when papers were filed; she has no problem being listed as President of the Board of Supervisors. But the law is clear: Per Elections Code section 13017(g) a candidate is not permitted to change his or her ballot designation after the deadline for filing nomination papers. It’s up to the Department of Elections to defend its decision on the ballot designation,” Moriarty wrote.

She added, “Mark Leno seems intent on attacking President Breed rather than addressing issues such as helping our homeless residents out of tents and into real homes, or addressing the public safety challenges our residents are facing.”

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