SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – As San Franciscans head to the polls, residents of the city’s Outer Sunset neighborhood are voting on one of today’s most contentious races — and the results could help propel a political shift in the city’s government.

Supervisor Gordon Mar is facing former San Francisco Democratic Party Central Committee member and journalist Joel Engardio in the race to represent District 4, which encompasses the city’s Outer Sunset neighborhood.

When people think of the City By The Bay’s politics, they may think of powerful downtown interests or the progressive and politically-active Castro and Mission neighborhoods. But in the past year, the once-sleepy Sunset District has become a hotbed of political activity affecting the entire city, voting heavily for both the school board recall in February and the recall of ousted District Attorney Chesa Boudin in June.

The Boudin recall happened amid a surge in crimes and harassment against the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities both in San Francisco and nationwide; the school board recall after the board voted to end merit-based admission to Lowell High School near Lake Merced. (That decision was reversed after the recall.)

Mar, who has represented the district since 2019 and whose brother was a supervisor for the neighboring Richmond neighborhood from 2009 to 2017, opposed the Boudin recall and the school board recall (though he asked one of the recalled school board members, Alison Collins, to resign, after comments she made criticizing Asian American parents and students came to light).

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Engardio, who has run unsuccessfully in the past for District 7 (West Portal-Parkmerced), is now in District 4 due to redistricting earlier this year. He hopes to capitalize on the discontent on the westside, particularly with the city’s policies regarding education and crime.

“I am running for supervisor because we need to create our best San Francisco,” Engardio told KRON4 News in August. “A lot of things don’t work in our city and we want to live in a city that works. We need to change direction.”

Engardio promises common sense solutions to city problems, he said. Engardio was a key figure in the school board recall and helped found Stop Crime SF, which seeks to balance criminal justice reform with victims’ rights.

“I really listen to what the residents of San Francisco want,” Engardio said. “I helped lead the school board recall and Gordon [Mar] was opposed to it. I supported the recall of DA Boudin as well as 61% of the voters in the Sunset.”

KRON4 News asked Mar about the disconnect between his positions on the school board and DA recalls and the views of District 4 voters.

“I think voters in District 4 are going to be more focused on my track record as District 4 supervisor,” Mar told KRON4 in August. “I was honored to be selected by District 4 voters four years ago to represent the Outer Sunset and Parkside neighborhoods by a fairly wide margin and despite the challenges of the past several years, I’m proud of what I’ve been able to achieve on keeping neighborhoods safe.”

To that end, Mar has announced several initiatives. As KRON4 reported in April, Mar joined the San Francisco Police Department and several community groups in forming the Sunset Safety Network as a response to crime and harassment, particularly of Asian Americans.

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More recently, Mar helped get city budget funding for public safety, including a video doorbell home security program.

Mar lambasted the tone of some of his opponents. One sign in the neighborhood falsely called him a “communist pedophile,” and over the weekend he accused opponents of voter suppression via Twitter.

“We’ve been alerted of a man going door to door, pretending to be with our campaign, and asking people to hand over their ballots to mail them,” Mar stated. “This is deeply disturbing. Whoever is doing this is not with our campaign, and is likely trying to illegally suppress your vote.”

In August, Mar told KRON4 News that he is thankful that the actions of those “posting very inflammatory flyers against me … were broadly condemned by the neighborhood.”

“I think the tone of those flyers are reflecting troubling sentiments and perspectives that have been stirred up in our city overt the past two years,” Mar said.

Mar was endorsed by the city’s Democratic Party organization, Engardio by the San Francisco Chronicle.