San Francisco Election Alert

August 2021

Even though 2021 is supposedly an “off” election year, San Franciscans are likely to be asked to vote several times between now and the June 2022 regular statewide election.
Voting for Governor on September 14. At Governor Newsom’s request, the State Legislature amended state law in order to hold the recall election as soon as possible. The election is now scheduled for September 14 and mail-in ballots have already arrived in homes. The Legislature also passed a law prohibiting cities and counties from placing measures and candidates on the recall election ballot, so this ballot only asks San Franciscans just two questions: Do you want to recall Governor Newsom? And in the event that he is recalled, who should replace him as Governor?
Voting for Assessor and City Attorney. The Board of Supervisors appointed Joaquín Torres as Assessor when former Assessor Carmen Chu took the job as the City’s Chief Administrator Officer earlier this year. Pursuant to the Charter, Torres must face the voters at the next City election, which is currently the election scheduled for June 2022. In addition, although the Mayor has not yet announced who she will appoint to fill the vacancy created when City Attorney Dennis Herrera was chosen this summer to run the Public Utilities Commission, this appointee will also have to face the voters at the next election. The Board of Supervisors passed a resolution hoping to force Torres and the City Attorney appointee to run on the Governor recall ballot, though the date of the recall election was not known at the time. Moving up the date of the Governor recall election to September 14 prevented the Assessor or City Attorney races from appearing on that ballot, but the Board may try to consolidate these elections with one of the possible other upcoming elections, described below.
Potentially voting on a School Board recall. The proponents of an effort to recall School Board members Alison Collins, Gabriella Lopez and Faauuga Moliga have until September 7 to submit the 52,000 required signatures. If they gather enough signatures, then the Department of Elections will have to schedule a “special” election within 105 and 120 days, which would take place in February 2022.
Potentially voting on a District Attorney recall. The proponents of an effort to recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin are also gathering signatures, and they have until October 25 to submit. (This is actually the second effort to recall the District Attorney, though the first effort’s proponents did not submit enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.) If the petitions are submitted early (and there are enough signatures), the District Attorney recall may also appear on a February special election; because the Charter allows a recall election to be consolidated with a regularly-scheduled election held within 105 days of when the recall election would otherwise be held, the recall – if it qualifies – might also be consolidated with the June 2022 ballot.
Potentially voting for State Assemblyperson or State Senator. Assemblyperson David Chiu and State Senator Scott Wiener are rumored to be the leading candidates to fill the City Attorney slot. If the Mayor appoints either one of these Legislators, it will require a special election to fill their Assembly or Senate seat. Pursuant to state law, vacancies in the State Assembly or Senate are filled at an election held within 126 to 140 days, with a primary occurring about two months beforehand. If any candidate wins a majority of votes in the primary, there will not be a runoff. Depending on when (and if) the Mayor appoints Assemblyperson Chiu or Senator Wiener as City Attorney, the primary could take place in early December, with the runoff (if necessary) taking place in February 2022, possibly at the same time as the School Board recall election. Even though the law technically allows a State Legislature vacancy election to be consolidated with a regularly-scheduled election held within 200 days of when the Governor calls it, neither the primary nor the general for this State Assembly or Senate vacancy election could be consolidated with the June 2022 election (unless the vacancy is delayed a few months for some reason).
In sum, San Franciscans may go to the ballot three times in the next 10 months: first to vote on the Governor recall, and then to vote on the potential recall of three School Board members, a special election which could potentially also include an election for an Assemblyperson in District 17 or a Senator in District 11 and/or the District Attorney recall – and the Board might pass a resolution to have the Assessor and City Attorney races appear on the same ballot. Soon thereafter, at the June 2022 election, San Franciscans will (at the very least) vote in the statewide and state legislative primaries, and will also vote for Supervisors in Districts 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10. 
Happy Voting!
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Feel free to contact a Sutton Law Firm attorney or Political Compliance Specialist if you have any questions regarding these upcoming elections.
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