Counting ballots took longer than usual in the race for District 7 supervisor, but Norman Yee, president of the San Francisco Board of Education, snagged the open seat left by Supervisor Sean Elsbernd.
Yee is a product of the public school system and earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from UC Berkeley, then his master’s degree in education from SF State.
“Having chosen District 7 as the place to raise my family 25 years ago, I am pleased that San Francisco State is located in my community. It’s great to see the energy and vitality that San Francisco State students bring to the nearby merchant corridors,” Yee said.
While the race was close between FX Crowley and Yee, it took officials more than a week to sort out the election, working through Veteran’s Day. Yee won the race by 135 votes.
“What happened this year that was different than others, there were a far more number of absentee ballots passed to polling places. There were almost double the amount dropped off from the previous election,” Esther Lee, full-time volunteer and advocate for the Yee campaign, said. “It probably had to do with the fact it was a presidential election and people wanted to hand in their ballots rather than dropping it in the mail.”
According to the Department of Elections, 73 percent of people voted in San Francisco and 38 percent of the votes were submitted by absentee ballots. Because of the influx of dropped off ballots, counting took a total of 15 days.
“I was there every day, watching the counting and, God, it was so boring. I could have fallen asleep standing up,” Lee said.
While supporters of Crowley demanded a recount, the cost would be well in the hundreds of thousands. When the announcement that the cost was too high was made, supporters retracted their request.
“The Department of Elections should be commended for their work for prioritizing this race. Everyone has a right to request (a) recount, but I mean, who wants to pay $5,000 a day to recount the ballots?” Lee said. “Honestly, I have no doubt that if there was a recount the results would be the same.”
SF State political science major and College Democrats member Naeemah Charles interned for Yee’s campaign.
“I think what won so many people over is how sincere he is. When one speaks to Norman it becomes pretty evident that he deeply cares about District 7,” Charles, 18, said. “It is easy to see that for him this is not just a position, but an opportunity to truly help the community.”
She described her experience as nothing short of amazing and that working with Yee showed her the passionate side of politics. Charles explained that while working for the campaign she was inspired by the volunteers and interns who made the work environment a place she wanted to be.
“It was a lot of work, and required a lot of commitment but I liked the grassroots environment. Every day I learned something new about what went into a political race at the local level,” Charles said.
Paul Murre, political science major and president of the College Democrats, supported Yee and believes he has earned his seat on the Board of Supervisors.
“He has a lot of experience in working toward schools and I think it’s a powerful thing because he’s really dedicated and cares about the kids and creating a future for us all,” Murre said. “I think it’s really interesting the race was so close. This was the first election where young people voted overwhelmingly and it really shows how important it is to reach out to students.”
Murre believes Yee pulled forward because of student voters and his support of SF State. In late September, the University hosted the District 7 debate. Crowley was not present at the debate, but his wife was there to show support.
Yee was endorsed by several supervisors, including Supervisor David Chiu. Yee will be taking the seat of termed-out Elsbernd and will be sworn in at City Hall Jan. 8.
Alex Emslie contributed to this report.