Opposing candidates for San Francisco’s upcoming mayoral election Jane Kim and Mark Leno have run an unusually amicable race, highlighted by their decision to endorse one another for the job earlier this month.
Since 2003, San Francisco has conducted its municipal elections through ranked choice voting (RCV) which allows voters to select up to three candidates of their choosing in order of preference. RCV is designed to increase voter participation and promote elections that encourage civility between candidates and prioritize issues as an alternative to conventional elections mired in personal attacks. However, according to a recent article by Russell Berman in The Atlantic, this is the first iteration of the electoral practice that has seen two competing candidates embrace each other amidst a contentious general election.
Kim and Leno have welcomed the unique features of ranked choice by holding a joint press conference and unveiling a joint ad, offering one another merit-based praise and asking voters to support both candidates in the June 5 election.
Pedro Hernandez, deputy director of FairVote California and himself a San Francisco resident, was interviewed by Berman and commented on this display of campaign magnanimity.
“That kind of civility, instead of those two candidates knocking each other down,” he said, “was exactly what ranked choice was made to do.”