Candidate coffers offer first peek at supervisor race

In November, San Franciscans will not only go to the polls to pick a president, but also to cast a vote for the future of The City — with seven of 11 seats on the Board of Supervisors up for grabs.

With some termed-out seats expected to be hotly contested, thousands of dollars are already starting to pile up in the war chests of several candidates.

Significant political power is at stake, including a chance for Mayor Gavin Newsom to secure veto power, which he does not currently possess. It takes four votes by the board to uphold a mayor’s veto on legislation.

Three of the seven races — districts 4, 5 and 7 — are expected to go to the incumbents — Supervisors Carmen Chu, Ross Mirkarimi and Sean Elsbernd, respectively — who are running unopposed so far.

In the other four races, the outcome is uncertain. Since the deadline to file for candidacy is not until Aug. 8, the field is likely to change.

More moderate candidates, which are historically backed by downtown business interests, can build a big war chest quickly, and can afford to wait to jump into the ring.

Many of the progressive candidates, however, have already launched campaigns, and some are expected to seek public financing for their campaigns. To qualify for the funds, candidates must raise $5,000 from at least 75 residents, in $10 to $100 contributions. Those who accept public money agree to not spend more than $140,000 and can receive up to $87,500 in public money, depending how much they raise.

While unopposed, Elsbernd was the top fundraiser for the November 2008 election last year, bringing in $141,332, District 3 candidate Claudine Cheng, the former president of the Organization of Chinese Americans, is leading a pack of 10 candidates for the seat that is held by Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin. Cheng, a Newsom appointee to the Treasure Island Development Authority Board of Directors, raised $44,145 in 2007, according to financial statements due Jan. 31.

The race for District 9 includes three progressives: Police Commissioner David Campos, who has the endorsement of current seat holder Tom Ammiano; Eric Quezada, a community and housing activist; and Board of Education President Mark Sanchez.

District 1 supervisor candidate Eric Mar, also a member of the Board of Education, raised $5,640 in 2007.

District 11 candidate John Avalos, a legislative aide for Supervisor Chris Daly, raised $9,400 last year.

The overall campaign activity is starting early this year, political analyst David Latterman said.

“I think there’s just so much at stake,” he said.

Newcomer candidate David Chiu, who has already picked up the endorsements of Peskin, Ammiano and Daly, signed up last week for the District 3 race.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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