Voters oust San Francisco school board members in special recall election

Three San Francisco school board members have been recalled in a special election.

Voters overwhelmingly chose to oust Board President Gabriela Lopez and members Faauuga Moliga and Allison Collins from their positions. The pro-recall vote garnered more than 70% of the ballots.

They will officially be replaced by mayoral appointments 10 days after the election is officially accepted by the Board of Supervisors.

The new board members are likely to take office in mid-March. 

The board recall was fueled in part by a backlash of frustration, mostly missteps that were made during the pandemic

In a statement, state Sen. Scott Wiener, who had backed the recall, said he was looking forward to the mayor choosing three new trustees. 

Mayor London Breed released her own statement, thanking parents who "tirelessly" organized and advocated for the recall effort. 

"Elections can be difficult, but these parents were fighting for what matters most – their children," Breed's statement read. 

She added that the school district faces a rough road ahead with many challenges; including exiting from the pandemic, a budget deficit, and hiring a new superintendent. She said the city is ready to offer support, but had no specifics.  

Opponents of the recall said the vote should not have happened until the next scheduled election in November. That way, the board members would have been democratically elected rather than handpicked as mayoral appointees. 

SEE ALSO: Mayor Breed seeking new school board commissioners following successful recall election

By 9:30 p.m., Moliga offered his concession saying, "I want to thank the Pacific Islander community for standing up and taking on this challenge." 

Earlier, he told KTVU the recall against him was "unjustified." 

Siva Raj, co-lead of ‘Recall San Francisco School Board’ said the election results were, "gratifying." He described the great amount of parents' energy that went in to the recall effort and how they are channeling their energy into "something positive."

Voter turnout was expected to be low. Only 20% of registered voters' ballots counted through Monday have been returned.

"If the in-person voting at the polling places reflects what we've seen at City Hall, we'll also see intermittent turnout at the polling places. There won't be lines of people" said John Artnz, San Francisco's election director. 

Voters dropped off ballots in person on Election Day and those votes still have to be tallied. Sheriff's deputies collected ballot drop boxes at 8 p.m. from various polling locations.

Over the weekend, rallies were held to back the recall, but the rallying cry to recall was rooted early on in the pandemic. That's when many parents demanded to know when their children could log off from distance learning and get back to the classroom. 

Instead, the board controversially focused on re-naming schools. At least that was the perceived priority. Even if it weren't during a pandemic, re-naming the schools, partly in the name of racial reckoning and equity, likely would have been seen as controversial. 

Board members highlighted 44 schools within the district that they say are branded to honor figures linked to racism, sexism and other injustices. 

One voter said she was not enthused about having to vote.

"I don't like recalls. I think they're wrong," said Stephanie Barrett of San Francisco. 

Many deemed the recall a poor use of taxpayer resources. The election to recall Gov. Newsom, which failed, cost taxpayers $200 million. 

The city's special election on Tuesday to determine if three of its school board members should be recalled, also asked voters who should fill the state Assembly seat vacated by David Chiu, who stepped down from his post last year to become city attorney. 

As of Wednesday morning, results showed that Supervisors David Campos, and Matt Haney had the most votes and will face a runoff election in April. 

KTVU's Andre Senior and Jana Katsuyama contributed to this report.