An already-crowded field of mayoral candidates swelled Monday with the entrance of Supervisor John Avalos, who plans to run as the progressive standard-bearer in the race.
Avalos said he has been meeting with close friends and allies for months to mull a bid for mayor. In the end, it was his work on the budget and his success with one of the strictest local-hiring mandates in the country that made him a viable candidate to lead The City, he said Monday.
Avalos served as chair of the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee in 2010 and worked through a $483 million deficit, oftentimes at odds with former Mayor Gavin Newsom over spending priorities.
“I’ve seen how Gavin Newsom struggled with the budget,” said Avalos, whose district includes the Excelsior, Outer Mission and Portola neighborhoods. “I’m not afraid of what it takes. I stand up well to pressure. And I believe I can put an administration together that can bring out the best in San Francisco.”
Avalos, who climbed the political ladder first as a legislative aide to firebrand ex-Supervisor Chris Daly, stands as the candidate leaning farthest to the left amid several viable mayoral hopefuls.
They include City Attorney Dennis Herrera, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, former supervisors Bevan Dufty, Michela Alioto-Pier and Tony Hall, state Sen. Leland Yee, venture capitalist Joanna Rees and Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting.
The lengthy candidate list will test ranked-choice voting, a system designed to avoid costly runoff elections by asking voters for their first, second-and-third place votes.
Since Avalos is likely to take a chunk of first-place votes, other candidates will be vying for progressive loyalty anyway because second- and third-place votes from progressives could help another candidate win, according to political consultant Jim Ross.
“The interesting thing is that he’s the only candidate that is priding himself and running his campaign on an ideological basis,” said Ross, who is not working with any of the current mayoral candidates. “It’s a high-risk high-reward strategy. It’s likely that he will attract people who will vote for him first. The problem is that it’s relatively polarizing.”
Rumors had both Daly and former Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, who still holds control of the powerful Democratic County Central Committee, entering the race if another progressive candidate did not. Avalos said he spoke with Peskin and Daly about his announcement.
“They’ve chosen not to run because I’m going to run, and I think that says a lot about the unity behind my candidacy,” Avalos said.