Mixed bag for incumbents in SF education races

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Wednesday November 9, 2022
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SF school board members Lainie Motamedi, left, Lisa Weissman-Ward, and Ann Hsu were leading in their races Tuesday. Photos: Courtesy the candidates
SF school board members Lainie Motamedi, left, Lisa Weissman-Ward, and Ann Hsu were leading in their races Tuesday. Photos: Courtesy the candidates

It was a mixed bag for incumbents in races for the San Francisco Board of Education and the City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees. On Monday, appointed incumbent Ann Hsu slipped to fourth place in the school board race.

In the school board race, appointed incumbents Lainie Motamedi and Lisa Weissman-Ward easily won election. The other appointee, Ann Hsu, was initially leading but on November 14, when new vote totals were released, she slipped to fourth place. Hsu made controversial racist remarks on a candidate questionnaire this summer and was pressured to resign, though she did not. According to unofficial returns updated November 15, Weissman-Ward had 22.2%, Motamedi garnered 19.54%, and challenger Alida Fisher with 17.59%. Hsu was at 17.31%.

Mayor London Breed appointed Weissman-Ward, Motamedi, and Hsu in March after voters ousted board president Gabriela López and Commissioners Faauuga Moliga and Alison Collins in the February recall. (López was also a candidate Tuesday night but lost, garnering 12.79% of the vote, according to updated returns.)

Prior to being appointed to the school board, Motamedi, a San Francisco Unified School District parent, completed a four-year term serving as co-chair of the Public Education Enrichment Fund Committee where she advocated for accountability and transparency reform to ensure that San Francisco city funds were utilized for student life as mandated by the city charter.

Weissman-Ward is an attorney who is the associate director of Stanford Law School's Immigrants' Rights Clinic, where she both represents individuals facing deportation and those seeking asylum (and other matters), and teaches and mentors law students. As a parent of two students in the district, she wrote in her Bay Area Reporter candidate questionnaire that she understands "how badly the trust was broken between the school board and the public." She stated that she is focused on student-centered outcomes to rebuild that trust.

Fisher is a former foster parent and now adoptive parent. In the past 15 years her children have attended seven schools in the district, she stated on her campaign website. "As the past chair of the SFUSD Community Advisory Committee for Special Education, now the advocacy chair, I have been a collaborative partner who works to improve outcomes for our most vulnerable students and, in some cases, hold the district accountable when we're not providing the supports our students need," she stated.

Hsu, who was born in China, lives in the Richmond district. She served as president of the Galileo High School PTSA and chair of the district's Independent Citizens' Bond Oversight Committee, according to a news release from the mayor's office after she was appointed. She has a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Penn State University and a master's degree in electrical engineering and MBA from UC Berkeley.

There were no out LGBTQ candidates in the school board race this year. Current Trustee Mark Sanchez, a queer man who was not up for reelection, is the sole LGBTQ member of the school board.

City College races

In the City College election, all the incumbents were headed to defeat except new Trustee Murrell Green, a straight man and educator whom Breed had appointed in May to replace gay former trustee Tom Temprano, who resigned in February to become political director for Equality California, the statewide LGBTQ rights group. (Temprano also resigned from his job as a legislative aide to gay District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman.)

Green received 58.45% of the vote for the two-year seat finishing Temprano's term, according to updated results November 10.

He is likely to be joined by newcomers Anita Martinez, who received 13.77%; Vick Chung, who is nonbinary and received 12.96%; and Susan Solomon, who received 13.03%, according to unofficial returns that were updated November 10.

Incumbents John Rizzo, Brigitte Davila, and Thea Selby were in fourth, fifth, and sixth place, respectively. A parcel tax that would have funded workforce development programs and other student services at the college was also losing as of Wednesday morning.

"San Francisco voters have spoken about City College in the Prop O and trustee elections: They do not approve of the performance of City College and are looking for a change in direction," stated Trustee Alan Wong. "They want leadership that provides good governance and accountability to the public. I pledge to work together with new trustees to provide the leadership the public expects for City College."

The incumbents all had to make the tough calls as City College was hit hard by the COVID pandemic and enrollment stalled. Earlier this year the board approved layoffs of 30 full-time faculty in an effort to stabilize City College's finances. There's also a new chancellor, David Martin, who took over last year.

Martinez, who ran for the college board in 2020, stated on her website that she was running this year because the "incumbents have allowed hundreds of classes to be recklessly cut and have laid off over 40 classified employees, 38 tenure and tenure track faculty, and 100s of part-time faculty."

In the voter guide, Chung, a recent student trustee, stated they were running because of the budget problems facing the college. "I worked with student leaders and labor unions across the state to fight corporate interests and protect access to public education," Chung stated. They are a sexual health educator and social justice advocate.

Solomon, a retired teacher, stated that she was running to support students. "City College must serve everyone," she wrote in the voter guide.

Candidate William Walker, a gay man and former student trustee, came up short, receiving 6.15% of the vote. The college board has another out member, bi woman Shanell Williams, who was not up for reelection this year.

This article was updated November 15 with new results.

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