SPECIAL SERIES : 2003 Municipal Election
It's a Runoff!
Both the mayors' and D.A.'s race will be determined next month.
November 4, 2003 11:16 PM
The results are in and the race for San Francisco's next mayor will be determined by a runoff election with front-runner Gavin Newsom, who led the mayoral race since its onset, facing Matt Gonzalez.
Newsom maintained a near 20 percent lead over Gonzalez, but without securing more than half of the votes needed to win, he is forced to face Gonzalez in a Dec. 9 runoff.
The battle for the second-place position in the mayoral race has been a struggle for leading contendors Angela Alioto, Tom Ammiano and Matt Gonzalez. At various times throughout the race, each of these candidates held the coveted second-place position in published polls.
Gonzalez beat Alioto for the number two spot in the runoff by four percentage points.
San Francisco has a history of choosing its mayors through a runoff election. This year marks the seventh runoff in the past eight elections. Dianne Feinstein was the last mayor to avoid a runoff when she was re-elected for her second term in 1983, which she won by a landslide.
According to the San Francisco Department of Elections, every front-runner in the November mayoral election won the December runoff. If voters continue this historical trend, Gavin Newsom will become the city's 42nd mayor.
With an additional 35 days to campaign, both Gonzalez and Newsom will use this time to pull in more voter support. By continuing to attend community events and promoting their political standings, both will attempt to snag support from voters who are now undecided in their candidate choice. It is likely that Gonzalez and Newsom will put much of the focus on the marked distinctions that separates them.
The runoff procedure was not even supposed to be a possibility for San Francisco elections this year. In October 1999, Supervisor Tom Ammiano proposed to get rid of the costly runoff elections, replacing them instead with instant runoffs, an election procedure that Santa Clara County has already adopted.
Last year, San Francisco voters approved this plan for instant runoff elections, but problems in the city's election department and with accessing the software for the new voting system forced the city to delay plans for the instant runoff.
Once instant runoffs are implemented, voters will choose their top three candidates. After the initial votes are counted, the candidate with the least number of first-place votes would be eliminated. The second choice votes from these ballots are then put back in the vote count. This process continues until one candidate emerges with the majority of the votes.
Since the instant runoff procedure has been abandoned for the time being, candidates must wait until December to find out who will be replacing Willie Brown as the city's next mayor.
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