Cisneros, Ting win first elections

By Matthew S. Bajko
Published November 10th 2005 in Bay Area Reporter
San Francisco voters voiced a note of confidence in Mayor Gavin Newsom's selections for city assessor-recorder and treasurer by solidly sending Phil Ting and Jose Cisneros to serve full terms in their respective offices.

Newsom picked both men to fill vacancies in the positions and Tuesday, November 8 was the first time both men appeared on a ballot. In the surprisingly heated assessor's race, unofficial returns showed that Ting cornered 46.7 percent of the votes, while Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval placed second with 38.6 percent, and tax attorney Ronald Chun took third with 14.7 percent. Because no one received 50 percent of the vote, the city's instant runoff voting will be used, but Ting is expected to win.

Cisneros trounced his three opponents in the treasurer's race, coming in with 63.5 percent of the votes, preliminary returns showed. Accountant Calvin Louie received 22.7 percent, retired city bureaucrat Isaac Wang garnered 8.7 percent, and treasurer's office worker Manuel Valle came in fourth with 5 percent. The only openly gay candidate on this fall's ballot, Cisneros maintains LGBT leadership of the treasurer's office after replacing out lesbian Susan Leal. Leal left the post in 2004 to lead the city's Public Utilities Commission.

"I think in many ways it went very well and it just shows voters liked the great job we have all been doing in the treasurer's office and the new directions and programs I have been able to take the office in," said Cisneros. "I am excited to keep the office going in the good direction Susan Leal took it in. We brought in more revenue than anyone expected this year."

As for his first political race, he said, "It's been an adventure, that's the best word I can use. I have been honored to receive the support I've gotten."

Also on Tuesday's ballot was City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who ran unopposed and cakewalked into a second term with 98 percent of the vote.

Ballot measures

The fate of the nine local propositions on the ballot were mixed. Voters opted to ban firearms in the city with Proposition H passing 58 percent in favor to 42 percent opposed, according to unofficial returns. Military recruiters, while not outright banned, are now on notice that they are not welcome on the city's high school and college campuses. The largely symbolic Proposition I passed with 60 percent of the vote.

On funding matters, residents rejected the current city policy of closing firehouses on a rotating basis in order to save money and voted under Proposition F to restore full funding to the city's fire stations. Preliminary returns had the measure passing 58 percent to 42 percent. Voters also approved a second bond initiative for City College, giving the community college district $246 million for new facilities. The measure, Proposition A, received 64 percent of the vote. The city will not, however, receive a boost in funds for street repairs, with voters rejecting Proposition B, a $208 million bond. Preliminary returns showed it passing 57 percent to 43 percent, but it needed a two-thirds vote.

 In another sign voters like Newsom's leadership, they voted down two measures that would have diluted his power as mayor. The first, Proposition C, would have given more power to the Ethics Commission and given the Board of Supervisors control of its budget instead of the mayor. It failed with 59 percent of voters saying no compared to 41 percent in support. The second, Proposition D, would have changed the appointment process to the Metropolitan Transportation Agency, which oversees Muni, by giving the supervisors three seats to fill. Currently, the mayor fills all seven MTA seats and the board votes to confirm the appointments. The measure lost with 64 percent to 36 percent, unofficial results showed.

By nearly 70 percent, voters approved Proposition E, a change in the timing of elections for assessor-recorder and public defender. The elections for the two offices will be moved from the June primary to the November election next year. The change came about due to the city's instant runoff voting system. In the past if no candidate won a clear majority in June the top two vote getters would face off in November. Since the new system removes the need for such a second match-up, city leaders wanted to move up the election so winners would only wait two months before taking office, instead of the six if the election were held in June. The switch also gives a reprieve to Ting from having to immediately return to the campaign trail.

The last measure, Proposition G, ends the bitter battle over the new underground parking garage in Golden Gate Park's Concourse. The proposal calls for one lane of traffic in each direction on the approach to the garage, limiting the road to two lanes instead of four, as decreed by a recent court order in a legal battle over the garage. The compromise measure passed 68 percent to 32 percent, according to preliminary returns.