November election may bring new balance of power to board 

With three seats up for grabs on the seven-member school board and only one incumbent, the next election could tip the board’s current balance of power.

Two years ago, the election of Norman Yee, who now holds the position of board president, helped to bridge the political divide of the board’s entrenched and warring factions.

Yee unseated Heather Hiles, an appointee of Mayor Gavin Newsom who often sided with the board’s more moderate members — Jill Wynns, Eddie Chin and Dan Kelly — in battles against the board’s three-person minority, who voted as a more "progressive" bloc. Yee campaigned as someone who would hold the middle ground, a promise he’s kept by being the swing vote on many issues.

That could change in November. Two spots on the school board are being given up by two commissioners who reside on opposite sides of the board’s political spectrum: Eddie Chin and Sarah Lipson.

Yee said he’s afraid the board’s ideological fighting could return.

"I’m concerned if people that are new think in terms of black and white, a right group and a wrong group," Yee said.

Although an incumbent, Kelly’s seat is not certain, since he was left off two key endorsement lists many voters use to make their decisions: San Francisco’s Democratic County Central Committee and The City’s teachers union. Both backed Hydra Mendoza, a district parent and Mayor Gavin Newsom’s education adviser; Bob Twomey, a former district parent and union employee for United Healthcare West; and Kim-Shree Maufas, a district parent who works for The City as a policy analyst.

"The unions, the newspapers, the Democratic parties, those are three groups that have real sway in San Francisco," said Jim Ross, a San Francisco-based political consultant.

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Bonnie Eslinger

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