At-home ballots for the February 15th Special Election in San Francisco are expected to begin to reach voters’ homes this week to decide both the recall of three San Francisco School Board members, as well as who replaces David Chiu as the next Assembly member for the current Assembly District 17.
In the school board recall election, School Board President Gabriela Lopez, as well as Board members Faauuga Moliga and Alison Collins, face being recalled following a tumultuous 2021. In March of last year, old tweets of then-VP Collins came to light through school board recall supporters. In the 2016 tweets, Collins wrote numerous racist and anti-Asian American messages, including saying that Asian Americans had “used white supremacist thinking to assimilate get ahead,” comparing Asian Americans to “House n——s”, and stating that she was looking to “combat anti-black racism in the Asian community” at her daughters’ “mostly Asian Am school.”
I'm looking to combat anti-black racism in the Asian community at at my daughters' mostly Asian Am school.
— Alison Collins 高勵思 (@AliMCollins) December 4, 2016
After Collins refused to step down, the Board voted 5-2 in a no confidence vote, stripping her of her Vice Presidency and all Committee positions.
This led Collins to sue the School District, as well as the 5 Board members who voted against her, for $87 million in District Court. While she ended up losing the lawsuit, it didn’t happen until she and the other two board members were on the verge of being put on the recall ballot.
In addition to her racist tweets, the school board is facing a number of San Francisco Unified School District parents who were upset with the school board since the lockdown was in place. The SFUSD refusing to reopen elementary schools and high schools despite other districts, such as Los Angeles, doing so when the pandemic waned, was cited as a major reason. The resulting rise of mental health issues among students, as well as learning loss, and monetary loss was impetus for parents to start the petition.
Other issues, including a massive failed citywide school renaming program, encouraged many San Francisco citizens to sign the petition last year, resulting in over 81,000 signatures being collected and making the ballot for February.
A special Assembly election
The Assembly race was triggered by then-Assemblyman David Chiu being tapped by Mayor London Breed as the next City Attorney. After he left the Assembly October 31st, candidates began entering the race. The two currently polling highest, San Francisco City Supervisor Matt Haney and former City Supervisor David Campos, have been duking it out in the past several weeks through ad campaigns and debates. City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees member Thea Selby and small business owner Bilal Mahmood, are also running.
Many have pointed out that the Assembly race is generally falling to a battle over progressive values, meaning that the strong Democratic district is unlikely to fall more to the right. All four candidates are listed as Democrats, with Haney and Campos in particular known for their more left-leaning political stances.
With over 500,000 ballots sent out last Friday and now on their way, San Francisco residents will likely mail-in a large number of ballots for both elections to the lead-up of the election in Mid-February.
“Both elections are important,” explained Randall Feldman, an affordable housing advisor who has worked with many politicians in the Bay Area, to the Globe on Monday. “For the Assembly seat, they’re going to help influence state politics and be a sure progressive vote in Sacramento. And in Haney’s case, if he is elected, that means an open Supervisor seat, which is big.”
“As for the School Board recall, that’s a horse of a different color. Usually San Francisco loves these kinds of people running the schools, but to many, they kind of overdid things. Many think they turned the cannons to the deck of their own ship on this and caused a massive deficit, focused on more petty issues that people hated like the school renamings, and, in Collins’ case, voters also don’t want a racist on their board, especially in a district with a lot of Asian-American families. It’s also unusual that a lot of top area Democrats, like Mayor Breed and several Supervisors, are for the recall.”
“The school board election will be a good test case for this year. The Assembly district is Democrat no matter what, it’s a wash. But the school board recall could show that people are still upset, and if they are recalled, that means we could see some interesting results in the June primary across California, not to mention a greater likelihood that DA Chesa Bousin is recalled since he’s on the ballot for recall soon too.”
“In short, the February 15th special election is big, and all these early ballots going out are really not going to help anyone out this time around. People really know how they’re going to vote on this one.”
The special election is due to be held in San Francisco city and county on February 15th.