Proposition 19 Leads Wednesday Morning, Would Expand Property Tax Breaks

Early returns show Proposition 19 leading 51.54% to 48.46% as of 7 a.m. Wednesday morning. If the measure maintains its lead, it would expand property tax savings for older Californians who are looking to downsize to a new home — and bring their lower property tax rates with them.

Proposition 19’s passage would also end an inheritance tax loophole that could increase tax revenue by tens of millions of dollars. A large percentage of that is expected to go to a dedicated wildfire fund.

The measure would allow empty nesters to downsize without incurring a huge tax increase. Homeowners who are 55 and older could buy a more expensive property anywhere in the state and bring along their lower property tax rate from their old home, and blend it with their new home value to reduce their tax payments.

Proposition 19 is expected to spur an uptick in home sales, which is why the campaign has been heavily funded by the real estate industry, with more than $40 million coming from the California Association of Realtors. Supporters argued expanding tax breaks would encourage more home sales and free up inventory in a state with a severe housing shortage.

“We are optimistic that when all the votes are counted, California seniors, disabled homeowners and wildfire victims will get much-needed housing and tax relief, while delivering constitutionally protected funding for firefighters, local schools, cities and counties," said Becky Warren, a spokesperson for the Yes on 19 campaign.

— Molly Solomon (@solomonout)


What the Prop 15 Failure Means for OUSD Finances

After an intense and pricey campaign, Proposition 15 has failed. The property tax reform measure, which would have raised billions for local governments and schools, lost by a narrow margin.

Education and labor leaders who embraced the initiative, eager for the much needed bump in funding, are coping with the verdict from voters. “It’s really frustrating,” said Matthew Duffy, the superintendent of West Contra Costa Unified School District. “Because it continues to create an understanding that you’re only going to have a good education if you have money.”

He argued that persistent underfunding has public schools trapped in a downward spiral. “When you drain money from these systems they don’t perform as well,” he said, “and then their reputation suffers, people don’t want to give money to them.” He saw Proposition 15 as one of the first systemic opportunities to counteract that trend in decades.

Education funding in California has never fully recovered from the effects of 1978’s Proposition 13, which capped property taxes. Proposition 15 would have stripped some businesses of those protections and put $6.5 billion to $11.5 billion a year in new revenue toward schools and local governments, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Still, Proposition 15 was no silver bullet, says Michael Fine, who runs the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team, the state agency that advises financially strapped school districts. He points to research that found it would take roughly another $25 billion a year to adequately fund the state’s schools.

“Would it have helped? No question about it,” Fine said. “Was it the solution? No.”

Oakland Education Association president Keith Brown urged those who fought for Proposition 15 to keep their heads up. “The movement that was created by educators, labor and the community to push forward real tax reform in this state of California in order to address the needs of our students and community, that’s very powerful,” he said. “We’re going to continue to work and fight to make sure we fully fund public education.”

Across the Bay Area, voters approved bonds and taxes to fund their local school districts.

— Vanessa Rancaño (@vanessarancano)

Last SF Supervisor Race Finally Called — Progressive Democrat Connie Chan Wins

UPDATE, 11/8/2020 6 p.m.: While the United States presidential race has been called since Saturday, San Francisco's last open race finally came to a conclusion Sunday.

San Francisco District 1 supervisor candidate Marjan Philhour conceded her race against candidate Connie Chan Sunday evening, ending a neck-and-neck race that saw the two trading leading positions in early counts. District 1 encompasses San Francisco's Richmond District neighborhood, between Golden Gate Park and the Presidio.

Philhour, who conceded the race Sunday night, was a senior advisor to Mayor London Breed and who counts her as a close ally. Philhour is a moderate Democrat who may have tipped the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in favor of the mayor's policies if she had won. The progressives enjoy a supermajority on the eleven-member board which is already tenuous.

Chan — a progressive Democrat who worked for then-District Attorney, now Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, and also Supervisor Aaron Peskin — declared victory Sunday night exclusively to KQED. She led Philhour by a mere 123 votes as of Sunday's count.

"We always knew that this was going to be an incredibly close race," Chan told KQED. But, she said "we're ready to call (the race) tomorrow."

Chan said her first priority as supervisor will be affordability for Richmond District residents and San Francisco at large.

"We see that it's critical for both residential tenants, and for commercial tenants like small businesses to stay open. So the eviction moratorium will be key," she said.

Maintaining city services during a tight budget crunch, improving public transit access, and affordable housing are "things that we need to tackle immediately."

The District 1 supervisor race was the last race to be called in San Francisco's supervisorial elections. Progressive supervisors largely prevailed in those races, except in District 11, where moderate Democrat and incumbent Supervisor Ahsha Safai beat out progressive Democrat candidate John Avalos.

And Breed did gain one new ally on the Board of Supervisors in District 7, where a progressive Democrat who counts both progressives and  Breed as allies, Supervisor-elect Myrna Melgar, prevailed

The original story follows.

Progressive Democrat Connie Chan pulled ahead in a nail-biter San Francisco supervisor election, Saturday afternoon.

It's the last election remaining uncalled in San Francisco, as city progressives mostly prevailed in four out of five Board of Supervisor races this November.

Chan and her closest rival, moderate Democrat Marjan Philhour, have been locked in a close race to represent the city's Richmond District on the Board of Supervisors since the first results were announced Tuesday.

Their respective leads have been slim, in the dozens of votes.

Chan led Philhour by 107 votes, Friday, making Saturday's count a difference of only 40 votes.

Philhour is the former senior advisor to Mayor London Breed, and Chan has worked for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in her time as San Francisco District Attorney, as well as for Supervisor Aaron Peskin.

There are still 10,000 more citywide votes in San Francisco to be counted, according to the Department of Elections.

When asked if Chan was prepared to declare victory, her campaign said, in a statement, "We're in a strong position after today's results. We thank and respect the Richmond District voters. Every vote counts and every vote needs to be counted. We look forward to those results."

— Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez (@FitztheReporter)

As First Female Vice President-Elect, Kamala Harris Rewrites Script for Presidential Politics

The rise of Kamala Harris from underdog candidate for San Francisco district attorney in 2003 to vice president-elect of the United States in 2020 is truly an “only in America” kind of story, and one that may forever transform the notion of what a winning presidential ticket looks like.

“Having Sen. Harris on the ticket was a complete game changer,” said Aimee Allison, founder and president of She the People, a group that advocates for women of color in politics. “You have a situation where the Democrats are dependent on high voter turnout, which is deeply tied to enthusiasm. And here is Kamala Harris, coming from our great state, with her ability to unite a multiracial voting coalition.”

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a statement: "The pride I feel as a black woman is hard to put into words. Kamala Harris is a friend and mentor, but most importantly, she is an inspiration to so many of us all across this country."

The daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica, Harris was born in Oakland and inspires a lot of hometown pride, particularly from the city’s mayor, Libby Schaaf, who is a longtime friend and supporter.

“Vice President Kamala Harris will mean everything for a city like Oakland,” Schaaf said. “First of all, to hear her lift up her identity as an Oaklander in such sharp contrast to Donald Trump's every mention of Oakland — a libelous slander of our diversity, of our safety, of our reputation.”

Harris will be both the first woman and first person of color to serve as vice president, breaking a significant glass ceiling that will open up a path for many who see themselves in her, Schaaf notes. Read the full story here.

—Scott Shafer (@scottshafer)

Biden Wins Presidency, According to Multiple Projections

Former Vice President Joe Biden has been elected the 46th president of the United States, narrowly emerging victorious from a contentious White House campaign that stretched days past election night, as vote tallies in several swing states were slowed by an unprecedented surge in mail-in ballots.

Biden edged President Trump, who in the days since voting ended has falsely claimed a premature victory and baselessly said Democrats were trying to steal the election. The Trump campaign is still contesting the process in several states.

"The simple fact is this election is far from over," Trump said in a statement Saturday. "Joe Biden has not been certified as the winner of any states, let alone any of the highly contested states headed for mandatory recounts, or states where our campaign has valid and legitimate legal challenges that could determine the ultimate victor."

Despite the president's rhetoric, Biden's team projected confidence as ballots were tabulated, knowing that large chunks of the vote still to be counted were in diverse Democratic strongholds like Milwaukee, Detroit and Philadelphia.

The Associated Press called the race for Biden on Saturday when it said that Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes put him over the 270-vote threshold needed to win the Electoral College.

The New York Times and all the major networks, including FOX News, also called the race for Biden.

Read the full story here.


Lead Changes Hands Again in San Francisco Richmond District Supervisor Race

Connie Chan has regained the lead over Marjan Philhour in the seesaw battle to represent San Francisco’s Richmond District.

Chan, a progressive Democrat backed by San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin, is now running 107 votes ahead of Philhour, a moderate who has the support of Mayor London Breed. The winner will replace outgoing Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer.

Chan started off in first place Tuesday but was overtaken by Philhour, who held the lead until Friday afternoon, when the city released its latest vote count, including District 1 provisional ballots.

Chan’s campaign manager, Kelly Groth, said they “feel good about the results today, but we know this will be an incredibly close race, and every vote counts. We'll be eagerly awaiting tomorrow's update.”

In a press release, city election officials say approximately 26,000 ballots remain to be processed, of which about 18,000 are vote-by-mail, 6,400 are provisional and 1,400 are conditional voter registration ballots.

The city says it will release its next count Saturday at 4 p.m.

For an analysis of today's results, see Mission Local.

—Julie Chang (@BayAreaJulie)

So Far, California House Republicans Are on Board With Trump's Baseless Claims

A growing list of Republicans have pushed back against President Trump's evidence-free claims that a conspiracy of liberals, pollsters, election officials and Democrats have deprived him of his rightful reelection. While the race has yet to be called by the Associated Press and other news organizations, the president is currently behind in four of the five remaining states still in play. If even one of those leads holds up, Joe Biden will have accumulated enough electoral votes to win the presidency.

Trump has been signaling for months that he would not accept the results of the election — that is, unless he won. He has now pledged to go to court to subtract whatever votes are necessary to yield him a victory.

Among the skeptics in his own party, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said the president's comments "inflame without informing" and that "we heard nothing ...  about any evidence."

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois, tweeted that the president needs to "STOP," adding "this is getting insane."

But here in California, the state's GOP House contingent seems mostly on board with the president's push to overturn an undesired outcome.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, representing parts of Los Angeles, Kern and Tulare counties, went on Laura Ingraham's Fox News show to baldly state that "President Trump won this election," repeating the president's baseless claims and urging Republicans to fight.

"Everyone who is listening do not be quiet," he said. "Do not be silent about this. We cannot allow this to happen before our very eyes."

Friday afternoon an editor for the Cook Political Report tweeted that McCarthy had walked back his comments

Rep. Doug LaMalfa, a Republican representing a rural district that includes Redding, tweeted that the "circumstances" surrounding the election "point to a fraudulent outcome," without listing any specific incidents.

Twitter added a note to LaMalfa's tweet, preventing users from sharing or even reading it before clicking through a disclaimer that said: "Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process."

In an interview with a local radio station, Rep. Tom McClintock, a Republican representing El Dorado, Mariposa and other counties in the Sierra Nevada, said he was "very concerned about election integrity."

He also attempted to cast doubt on the legitimacy of mail-in votes — "I remember the days when we all voted in person on election day," he said.

Rep. Ken Calvert, a Republican from Southern California, tweeted that "Republican candidates, from the top of the ticket to the bottom, have and will exercise their right to ensure vote counts are complete, accurate and legal."

Notably silent on the matter: Devin Nunes, a staunch Trump ally representing a district in the San Joaquin Valley. Nunes' office did not respond to a request for comment.

The state GOP, as Capital Public Radio's Scott Rodd notes, has been touting victories of Republican candidates in legislative races, but it has not weighed in on Trump's comments or the presidential contest.

— Kevin Stark (@kevstark) and Jon Brooks (@jbrooksfoy)

College Students Who Pushed to End California Affirmative Action Ban Grapple with Prop. 16 Loss

“I’m not gonna lie, I’m pretty bummed out about it."

That's UC San Diego student Nyaduoth Gatkuoth, who spent months putting up signs and campaigning on street corners for Proposition 16, an attempt to overturn the state’s 1996 ban on affirmative action.

The results, still incomplete, aren't close. The Associated Press called the race on Wednesday, and the measure is currently losing by 1.5 million votes, good for 44% of the total.

Gatkuoth is one of many students who worked hard on the campaign and now have to come to grips with the measure's defeat. UC Berkeley student Derek Imai, Northern California phone bank coordinator for the campaign, is another. He said he "cried a lot."

“People believe that we live in a colorblind society," he said, "and we truly don’t."

Proposition 16 would have allowed state universities and other public institutions to again consider diversity in admissions and hiring. Opponents argued the measure would have sanctioned widespread discrimination.

“Only by treating everyone equally can a state as brilliantly diverse as California be fair to everyone,” the No on Proposition 16 campaign website reads.

In arguing for race-conscious admissions, students like Imai and UC Berkeley classmate Kyndall Dowell say there is a lack of diversity on campus and a climate that can be unwelcoming for Black and brown students.

“I do not believe that we live in a post-racial society,” Dowell wrote in an email. “We must be willing to engage with and discuss race and evaluate our positioning in society of how we benefit from systems others do not.”

Dowell points to research that found Proposition 209, the measure that ended affirmative action in 1996, deterred Black and Latino students from applying to UC even if they were eligible, leading to disproportionate declines in enrollment. Since then, UC campuses, especially the highly competitive UCLA and UC Berkeley, have struggled to keep up with the state’s diversity, despite the implementation of a “holistic” application review policy and robust diversity programs.

This summer, UC regents unanimously backed Proposition 16, citing momentum spurred by a societal reckoning on race. Students and university leadership alike hoped the spotlight on racial injustice that followed the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer created an opening for change.

“Where did that energy go?” Imai said. “It was just shocking to see that all this movement didn’t result in an actual tangible way to promote racial justice.”

Despite her disappointment, Gatkuoth said she isn’t surprised by the outcome — and not just because the ballot language may have confused voters. As a San Diego native, she says she’s well aware of California’s conservative undercurrents.

“There’s a view of California as one of the most progressive and liberal states,” she said. But hearing arguments about reverse racism during hundreds of campaign calls this summer further debunked that reputation for her.

“It made me realize how individualistic American politics is, and how everyone sees it through a lens of what their experience is,” rather than trying to relate to what other people have gone through.

Despite her disappointment, she says she’s not giving up.

“As a Black woman, and a dark-skinned Black woman in particular, this is something that I need. I want to be in spaces where I see more people who look like me.”

Gatkuoth says she plans to harness the lessons of the campaign and channel her anger over the defeat toward a future, better iteration of Proposition 16.

Vanessa Rancaño (@vanessarancano)