Lee and Gascón continue as mayor and D.A.; Mirkarimi new sheriff in town

SF Public Press
 — Nov 9 2011 - 7:24pm

Incumbent Ed Lee was elected as San Francisco’s mayor following Tuesday’s ballot, in the first truly competitive race for the office using ranked-choice voting, according to unofficial results announced late Wednesday.

George Gascón, who like Lee was appointed to his position during the previous administration, was sent back to the office for a full term, while Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi became the first sheriff elected in 31 years, preliminary results show.

Lee became the apparent victor after 11 rounds of ballot counting under the ranked-choice voting system, used only for the second time for the position. He maintained an early lead from Tuesday night and finished at 61 percent of the vote. His closest challengers were Supervisor John Avalos at 39 percent, and City Attorney Dennis Herrera in a highly competitive field of 16 candidates.

Only three tallies were needed to decide the district attorney and sheriff’s races. Mirkarimi, currently District 5 supervisor, also held onto an early lead and beat Paul Miyamoto, a captain in the sheriff’s department. Mirkarimi will succeed Michael Hennessey, the outgoing sheriff who endorsed him in the campaign.

“The bottom line is we will continue forward with Michael Hennessey’s legacy,” Mirkarimi said to reporters at the elections department in the basement of City Hall Wednesday.

Gascón, the former police chief who was appointed district attorney in January, defeated four others, including David Onek and Sharmin Bock.

The unofficial results will be certified by Monday after the remaining 10,000 vote-by-mail and provisional ballots are counted, said Rachel Gosiengfiao, an official with the elections department. The estimated turnout is 30 percent of the electorate.

With this vote, Lee becomes the first Chinese-American elected mayor in San Francisco history. The Board of Supervisors appointed Lee to succeed Gavin Newsom just before he took office as lieutenant governor. In his final act, Newsom tapped Gascón as the top prosecutor to serve the remainer of  the term of Kamala Harris, the new state attorney general.

With one year left in his supervisorial term, Mirkarimi is expected to vacate his seat with Lee appointing his successor.