By Lee Hubbard
Malia Cohen will be the new Supervisor in District 10, replacing Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, who is termed out.
As of press time Cohen had 52.60 percent of the vote compared to Tony Kelly’s 47.40 percent. Kelly conceded to Cohen Tuesday afternoon, although the race has not been officially called.
“I don’t think we have enough cards left to make any changes in the results at this time, but until (we) certify, I don’t call a race,” said John Artz, head of the San Francisco Department of Elections.
Cohen was able to pick up ground on Kelly in the ranked choice voting system after Lynnette Sweet dropped in ranking. After the first round, Sweet had the most first place votes, 2,072 or 12 percent, compared to Kelly who had 2,042 or 11.59 percent and Cohen, who had 2015 or 11.73 percent.
But both Cohen and Kelly had more second and third place votes, which allowed them to overtake Sweet’s original lead. This caused some harsh feelings among some Blacks activists and Sweet, who felt that an underrepresented community would be without an African American supervisor.
“The average person is not aware of the mathematical percentages that are coming up in the races,” said Sweet. “It should be one person one vote, to make it simple and understood.”
Cohen was overjoyed. “The margins are very close, and this will be the quintessential example on why every vote counts,” she said.
Cohen is a graduate of Lowell High School, attended Fisk University and graduated with a degree in political science. She also has a Masters Degree from Carnegie Mellon University in Public Policy and Management. She joined the race as somewhat of a political unknown in District 10, but she has been a political insider for much of her time in San Francisco.
She worked to help elect Mayor Gavin Newsome and served two years on his executive staff, holding positions as executive assistant and executive assistant to the Mayor’s Chief of Staff. Outside of city government, she has worked as a policy moron for the US Department of Transportation and as a managing partner with Power Forward Consulting, a public affairs consulting firm.
Cohen’s election signals a shift in Black leadership in the district and San Francisco. While most African American political players have come from the civil rights and post civil rights era, Cohen 31, comes from the younger hip-hop generation.