Feeling the heat, Olague kills RCV repeal for now

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Sup. Christina Olague delayed her closely watched vote on repealing ranked choice voting.

After reviving a controversial effort to repeal the city's ranked-choice voting (RCV) system and paying a political price for her shifting stands on the issue, Sup. Christina Olague today made the motion to send all three competing reform proposals back to the Board of Supervisors Rules Committee, effectively killing efforts to place them on the November ballot.

“The public would benefit from more public discussion on the issue,” Olague said, adding that she doesn't think the measures should be on the crowded fall ballot competing with other important priorities.

Olague had been torn between supporting the desires of Mayor Ed Lee (who appointed her to the seat) and downtown interests to repeal RCV and those of her longtime allies in the progressive community who sought to defend it from total repeal – and she hadn't been returning calls or indicating where she now stood before today's Board of Supervisors meeting.

But after hearing more than 30 minutes of impassioned public comments on both sides of the issue, she made the motion to end the controversy for now, which was unanimously approved by the board. Olague also addressed the heat she felt indirectly, saying RCV “should not be a litmus test for whether someone is progressive” and “sadly, the discussion had degenerated to be about personalities.”

Her colleagues seemed happy to be done with this fight for now as well. Sup. Mark Farrell, who sponsored the measure to repeal RCV for all citywide offices, said it would be a “huge mistake” to have competing voting system measures on the fall ballot. Olague had previously offered an alternative to repeal RCV for just the mayor's race, like Farrell's measure using a September primary election and November runoff. Board President David Chiu responded to the RCV repeal effort by proposing another alternative, that one using RCV in the November election but having a December runoff between the top two mayoral finishers.

Chiu said he was happy to delay his proposal, saying, “I have thought the system we have is working quite well.”