Greens hold on to S.F. District 5 supervisor's seat
Green Mirkarimi replaces Green Gonzalez
Green Focus Staff Report
SAN FRANCISCO - After 19 rounds of ranked-choice vote counts - all within the 72 hours the city expected to take to count ranked choice votes - Ross Mirkarimi captured San Francisco's "Green" seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in the Nov. 2 election.
Mirkarimi, who takes over for Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzalez as the supervisor in District 5, won in the final tally with 13,083 votes after 19 passes, comprising a majority of 50.594 percent, according to the San Francisco Department of Elections. Democrat Robert Haaland finished second with 7,204 votes and Green candidate Lisa Feldstein finished third with 5,572.
Green activist Susan King, the third Green candidate in the District 5 race, survived 13 of the 19 passes and garnered 1,357 votes.
"I am proud of the positive campaign we've run, and I'm proud of the collaborative spirit that emerged among most of the 22 candidates," Mirkarimi said in thanking his supporters.
Mirkarimi won in a district with just 3,000 registered Greens facing 20,000 registered Democrats, defeating Haaland, who had endorsements from two state assemblymen, five members of the Board of Supervisors and the Harvey Milk and Alice B. Toklas Democratic clubs.
"Mirkarimi has consistently proven to have a deep understanding of the issues facing San Francisco, as well as an ability to provide a progressive voice in the City's decision making process," journalist Casey Mills wrote in an article on BeyondChron.org. "He also possesses a gravitas that likely won as many supporters as his policy positions."
Political experts also credit Mirkarimi's victory to an extensive, relentless field campaign. Early in the race, Mirkarimi visited major transit corridors and introduced himself to countless residents. He consistently attended churches on Sundays, strongholds of black support in San Francisco, and volunteers knocked on doors in every neighborhood in the district.
"This field campaign distinguished Mirkarimi's campaign from his rivals," Mills continued. "While other candidates may have used similar tactics, most waited until extremely close to the election to do so, and did not do so with the same regularity. The result? Many voters had a face to associate with Mirkarimi's name, a feat extremely difficult to achieve in a race with so many candidates."
Having guided a wide variety of political campaigns over two decades in San Francisco, Mirkarimi ran a textbook campaign of his own; one from which other progressives can learn.
In the first test of RCV ? also called Instant Runoff Voting or IRV ? in a large metropolitan area, Mirkarimi had high marks for the system.
"I think it's good for the city; it's good for California," Mirkarimi commented to the San Francisco Chronicle regarding RCV. Mirkarimi added a vote of confidence against last minute software glitches that detracted from RCV's credibility in the eyes of some.
"If this is as bad as RCV gets, we should be adopting it throughout California," he said.
While running a clean, efficient and people-based campaign, the Mirkarimi campaign also reaped the benefits of a backfiring Democratic-backed "hit piece" ? an orange mailer sent around Halloween accusing Greens like Mirkarimi of "dressing up like Democrats." In it, the Democratic Party establishment accused Mirkarimi of trying to hide his "Green" membership behind a row of Democratic endorsements, including that of former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos and former San Francisco District Attorney Terrence Hallinan. The piece also addresses a photo of Mirkarimi with former President Bill Clinton, taken when Mirkarimi was part of the president's 1997 transition team, which the Mirkarimi campaign sent to the district's Democrats.
"What's the big deal here?" Savannah Blackwell asked the Democrats in an article in S.F. Progressive. "It's true Mirkarimi worked for Clinton's advance team in 1997. So he's got credibility in party politics beyond just the Greens."
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