Engardio, Dorsey maintain leads in SF supervisor races

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Thursday November 10, 2022
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District 4 supervisor candidate Joel Engardio continues to lead in his race against San Francisco Supervisor Gordon Mar. Photo by Matthew S. Bajko
District 4 supervisor candidate Joel Engardio continues to lead in his race against San Francisco Supervisor Gordon Mar. Photo by Matthew S. Bajko

Two gay men continue to lead in their respective races for seats on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, although their challengers have edged up, according to unofficial returns released Saturday. Should the results hold then the governing body will have three LGBTQ members on it for the first time in a decade.

The city's elections department announced Saturday that it still has to process and count 82,000 ballots. It will next release an updated tally in the various races at 4 p.m. Sunday.

In the race for the District 4 seat in the city's Sunset District, gay former journalist Joel Engardio has maintained his lead over Supervisor Gordon Mar after elections officials released a new vote count Saturday. Engardio has 51.5% of the vote, while Mar remains in second place with 48.95% of the vote, according to the unofficial returns.

It is roughly the same percentages as the candidates had on election night, when Engardio was at 51.48% of the vote and Mar at 48.52%. On Saturday, Engardio's lead was 425 votes, down from the 572 vote difference on Friday and the 572 vote lead he had on Thursday.

"It's encouraging to see that with each new count, my lead over the incumbent continues to grow. I believe that voters are responding to my campaign's positive vision for creating our best San Francisco," Engardio told the Bay Area Reporter Thursday.

It will be a remarkable victory for Engardio, as it is exceedingly rare for an elected supervisor in San Francisco not to be reelected. (Appointed supervisors have been more easily defeated in recent years.)

Plus, some political watchers had dismissed Engardio as a perennial candidate. This was his fourth time running for supervisor, as he lost three prior bids for the District 7 supervisor seat, which he was redistricted out of this year.

Meanwhile, in the hotly contested race for the District 6 supervisor seat centered in South of Market, gay District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey continues to lead the pack of four candidates in the race. Under the city's ranked choice voting system, he currently leads with 54.65% of the vote, according to Saturday's figures.

Transgender San Francisco Democratic Party Chair Honey Mahogany, a nightclub co-owner, continues to trail in second place with 45.35% of the vote. She has gained some numbers and as of Saturday, trailed Dorsey by 1,112 votes. On Friday she trailed Dorsey by 1,300 votes.

The city has yet to see a trans person elected supervisor. Mahogany would also be the first drag queen elected to public office in San Francisco, as well as the city's first out Black supervisor. She had worked at City Hall for former supervisor Matt Haney as his chief of staff.

But after Haney won election to the state Assembly in the spring and resigned from the board, Mayor London Breed tapped Dorsey to succeed him. He is the second person living with HIV to fill a vacancy on the Board of Supervisors.

"I am feeling confident but I will wait for this to play out. There is no rush," Dorsey told the B.A.R. Friday when asked if he was ready to declare victory.

The race will be decided by the city's instant voter runoff system due to there having been four candidates. Longtime Black transgender advocate Ms. Billie Cooper landed in fourth place with 2.23% of the vote, while Black labor leader Cherelle Jackson came in third place with 3.95%. Their voters' ranked choices are redistributed after they are eliminated from the running.

A recovering addict, Dorsey has made addressing the city's drug overdose crisis and open-air drug dealing a top priority of his at City Hall. While his detractors painted him as basically a police officer, due to his having been the chief spokesperson for Police Chief William Scott, Dorsey's crime experience appears to have resonated with voters of the district.

Engardio has also focused on public safety and crime issues in recent years. It, too, appears to have paid off with voters in the more suburban neighborhoods on the city's westside.

Mahogany had acknowledged as much during her brief remarks on election night at her watch party for campaign staff and supporters.

"Right now in San Francisco we are seeing unprecedented things. On the other side of town a sitting supervisor may be unseated," she noted. "It speaks clearly where the voters are at. We are seeing people be very concerned about safety and looking for a tough on crime message."

If Engardio and Dorsey both win their races, then they will serve alongside gay District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman. He easily vanquished his opponent, straight attorney Kate Stoia, Tuesday to secure a second term.

"To all of you who helped us along the way, I am so very very grateful," wrote Mandelman to his supporters in an email he sent out shortly after the new polling results were posted November 10.

In the other two supervisor races on the November 8 ballot, District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton, president of the board, and District 2 Supervisor Catherine Stefani, who was unopposed, easily won second terms.

The last time a trio of LGBTQ supervisors served together was in 2012. Gay supervisors David Campos, in the District 9 seat, and Scott Wiener from District 8, were on the board along with bisexual supervisor Christina Olague, who has been appointed to the vacant District 5 seat.

But Olague lost her bid for election to her seat that November — losing to Breed — and Campos was termed out of office in January of 2017. Wiener left the board in 2016 after being elected to the state Senate.

The most LGBTQ supervisors on the board at one time have been three. In the late 1990s, when they were elected citywide, gay supervisor Tom Ammiano served along with lesbian supervisors Susan Leal and Carole Migden.

When Migden left in March of 1996 for the state Assembly, Ammiano and Leal were joined by lesbian supervisor Leslie Katz. She was appointed to the board in May of that year.

This story will be updated as more vote counts are announced.

Updated, 11/12/11: This article was updated with the latest results in Districts 4 and 6.

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