Supervisor Julie Christensen conceded late Wednesday her hard fought race against Aaron Peskin, after the latest tally of votes in the District 3 election confirmed her defeat.
With Peskin’s more than 1,100 vote lead election night, Christensen, Mayor Ed Lee’s District 3 appointee was all but done Tuesday night. For a brief time, there remained a slim chance for Christensen to pull through — as thousands of ballots were left uncounted, which could have broke in her favor.
As of late Wednesday afternoon, however, after the results of more than 800 additional counted ballots became known, Peskin remained more than 1,100 votes ahead.
“While there are still more ballots to be counted, the outcome is clear. I congratulate Mr. Peskin and wish him the best,” Christensen said in a statement issued late Wednesday.
“Although I did not prevail last night, I am so grateful to Mayor Lee for appointing me as Supervisor, and I appreciate the support of my colleagues, staff, supporters, and the residents of District Three while I served. This was an amazing opportunity and learning experience, and I look forward to continuing serving the community as an advocate for our neighborhoods in San Francisco.”
The Peskin victory – and what some say is a poor showing by Mayor Ed Lee to win just 57 percent of the votes in a virtually uncontested re-election – could represent a backlash on the administration’s policies, potentially boding well for progressives running in 2016 races for the odd-numbered seats on the board.
Peskin’s win shifts the power on the board by making a progressive bloc of 6 votes to moderates’ 5 votes.
While Peskin told the San Francisco Examiner on Wednesday that “2016 is a long way away” he said “the results of this election are a clear signal that the board and the mayor are going to have to meet halfway in between.”
That’s in contrast to what Peskin says is the current board’s rubber stamping the mayor’s policies.
Peskin said he called Mayor Ed Lee Wednesday morning and left him a voice mail to signal his willingness to work together. The mayor did return his call, Peskin said.
An energized progressive base with a more mature Peskin, who even his enemies describe as intelligent, may strike fear into some moderates — but not Board president London Breed, who supported Christensen.
“I grew up in the toughest public housing development,” Breed said. “Do you think I’m scared of Aaron Peskin and what happens on this board?”
Breed said the election results aren’t “a referendum on anyone” and that the board has been working hard on the affordability challenges Peskin has highlighted. “We’re not just sitting here twiddling our thumbs,” Breed said. She added, “Aaron is a very intelligent person. I just hope we will be able to work together.”
Peskin is assembling his City Hall team, having already selected former legislative aide Rose Chung, a Chinatown community leader, as his aide once again.
Part of Peskin’s victory is attributable to the backing of Chinatown powerbroker Rose Pak, who broke with the mayor over the appointment and supported Peskin. Pak had supported Cindy Wu, who works for the influential Chinatown Community Development Center.
“We were completely dismayed when the mayor did not listen to our cries or pleas and went instead with an unknown woman to represent us,” Pak told the San Francisco Examiner. “We realized we cannot rely on him to deliver what we need. So we just rallied around [Peskin] in spite of the power of the Mayor’s Office.”
Pak described Peskin as someone who can stand up to the likes of tech investor Ron Conway and real estate interests. “He can withstand the onslaught. He knows how the game is played and how the things work in City Hall. They may not pull a fast one over him, like they easily could others.”
Peskin, as does Breed, expects to assume the District 3 seat in early December, possibly as early as the Dec. 8 board meeting, under the city charter provision regarding appointee elections — an interpretation backed up by a ruling issued Wednesday by City Attorney Dennis Herrera.
Still, that timeline would depend on when the election is certified and approved by the board. Department of Elections Director John Arntz said he has 57,716 ballots left to count. Arntz expects to certify the election before Thanksgiving, but has 28 days to do so.
Peskin, who ran on the platform of fighting evictions and soaring rents, said he’ll work on increasing below market-rate requirements in housing development.
He is also exploring the idea of a law that would require the locking of garbage cans to prevent scavengers from messing up the streets overnight.
Plus, he promised to address continued concerns over regulations of Airbnb. “I’m hopeful that perhaps we can negotiate a workable compromise,” Peskin said. “If City Hall once again fails to solve or mitigate the problem, it will inevitably end up on another future ballot.”
Already, progressives are signaling the importance of the Peskin victory at City Hall. On the steps outside the golden domed “people’s palace” those who supported the Mission market-rate housing moratorium, which lost on the ballot, said Peskin brings the key vote and leadership to help pass pro-tenant policies.
Peskin has climbed back into the same seat he was termed out of seven years ago. And he assumed the seat very much the same way as he did in 2001, by tapping into the perceived unrest caused by a mayor and his powerful friends.
In the first case it was then Mayor Willie Brown with his runaway development. And today, it’s Mayor Ed Lee and his “tech billionaire” backers.
Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez and Laura Dudnick contributed to this story.