Board of Education President Norman Yee declared victory Thursday in one of the closest recent contests for a seat on the Board of Supervisors, but the second-place finisher has not ruled out requesting a recount.
After an arduous 10 days of vote counting, Yee emerged as the winner of the nine-candidate District 7 battle by 131 votes to serve as successor to termed-out Supervisor Sean Elsbernd. The district includes the neighborhoods west of Twin Peaks.
While the election results are not yet certified, and therefore unofficial, Department of Elections Director John Arntz said his employees finished counting the ballots in the District 7 race.
“We are pretty much done,” Arntz said. “What you see here is pretty much close to our final result.”
Yee prevailed by 131 votes over labor leader F.X. Crowley, 12,448 to 12,317 votes, after voters’ selections were tabulated under ranked-choice voting.
Yee, who was out of town for a business meeting, issued a statement declaring victory.
“I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and working with other supervisors to make San Francisco a safer and better place for families and individuals to live,” Yee’s statement said. “As I said during my campaign, I will bring an independent voice, free of special interest groups, to represent District 7.”
But Crowley, who was leading Yee by as many as 331 votes at one point during the counting, has not yet conceded. Crowley’s campaign manager, Alex Tourk, said comment on the election would be premature until it is certified. He did not rule out a recount.
“F.X. is going to look at all options on the table,” Tourk said.
Any voter can ask the Department of Elections to recount the vote five days from when election results are certified. Arntz has said he has until Dec. 4 to certify the election. Once a recount is requested, the department would have to begin it within seven days.
But whoever requests the recount must also put up the money to pay for the daily costs of that work. And if the recount does not change the final result of the election, then the party that requested a recount loses their money.
Such efforts can vary widely in cost based upon the scope of the recount that is requested.
There has never been a recount in a supervisorial race decided under the ranked-choice voting system, which began in 2004. There was a partial recount in the 2000 District 7 race when Tony Hall prevailed by 39 votes in the runoff against Mabel Teng. Following a recount, Teng picked up just a single vote.
Other close supervisorial races during the ranked-choice era include Eric Mar’s 2008 District 1 victory by a margin of 347 votes over the more moderate Sue Lee. And District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell bested challenger Janet Reilly by 258 votes in his 2010 election. Reilly initially requested a recount but then withdrew the request.