SAN FRANCISCO — Assemblyman Art Agnos was sweeping temptingly close to the mayor's office Tuesday, then appeared to be on his way toward a December runoff against city Supervisor John L. Molinari in San Francisco's first seriously contested mayoral campaign in 12 years.
With 28.5% of the ballots counted, Agnos had 30,609 votes, or 46.8%, while Molinari had 28.3% and former Chief Administrative Officer Roger Boas had 24.7%. If Agnos cannot grab a 50% majority, he will face the second-place finisher in the runoff.
Elsewhere in the state on a busy election day, early returns indicated that voters in the San Diego County beach community of Del Mar were overwhelmingly rejecting a proposal to bar smoking in most public outdoor spaces, while San Diego voters were approving a proposal to change the name of a street recently dedicated to slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
In South Orange County, an effort to celebrate the 21-year-old Mission Viejo area's coming of age by incorporating it as a city was off to a good start. Early returns indicated that the measure would succeed.
The orderly, upper middle-class community of 64,000 has long eyed cityhood as a way of gaining local control of its property and sales taxes. It also wanted more of a say in its planning than could be provided by its single representative on the Orange County Board of Supervisors, Gaddi Vasquez.
The vote also is being carefully watched by other south county communities who are making an attempt at independence.
In Northern California, early results showed Sacramento Mayor Anne Rudin was easily coasting to a second term, and Palo Alto residents were rejecting a proposal to declare their high-tech city a "nuclear-free zone" and sever municipal ties with companies involved in nuclear-weapons production.
With only 203 of 711 precincts reporting, San Francisco returns showed 54.5% of voters opposed to construction of a privately-funded downtown baseball stadium in the downtown area, The new facility is sought by the Giants, who have threatened to quit town without an alternative to windy Candlestick Park.
Early tallies also showed voters opposed to the locally contentious idea of electing city supervisors by districts, rather than citywide.
Also losing in early returns was a proposal to designate San Francisco a "nuclear-free zone"--a measure that could hamper efforts to revive the city's maritime industry by home-porting the nuclear-armed battleship Missouri.
Across the bay in Alameda County, voters were approving a measure to raise a cap on county government spending imposed by the 1979 Gann Initiative. While up in Contra Costa County, voters were supporting a measure to impose a 10% tax on two toxic-waste handling facilities in an effort to prevent the import of more such wastes from across the state.
Residents of Del Mar, the trendy seaside town in northern San Diego County, were easily defeating a ballot measure Tuesday that, if enacted, would become the most restrictive anti-smoking measure proposed anywhere in the country.
Proposition N would ban smoking in all public places, even in outdoor areas such as streets, alleys, parks and beaches.
Smoking would be permitted, however, at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and at outdoor cafes on public sidewalks, as well as on private property, such as cars and motels.
Despite that exemption, the proposed ordinance, which qualified for the ballot as a citizens' initiative, faced stiff opposition from Del Mar Mayor Ronnie Delaney, the city's Chamber of Commerce and local restaurateurs--all of whom argued the proposal is unenforceable and unneeded.
They also accused the proposition's author, former Del Mar Mayor Richard Roe, of using the issue as a political ploy to gear up for another campaign for elected office.
Roe said he pushed the measure because Del Mar is home for many health enthusiasts and would be the perfect place to "be a leader in ending the hypocrisy about smoking. We know that smoking is bad for you, but then we say it's perfectly OK to smoke."
The election was being closely watched by both the Tobacco Institute and the Berkeley-based Americans for Non-Smokers. CBS Network News did a segment poking fun at the proposed ordinance.
Elsewhere in San Diego County, the state's second largest, City of San Diego residents were deciding the racially sensitive question of whether to repeal the name of Martin Luther King Way from a major downtown street, which starts at the scenic bayfront and runs due east through some of the city's more impoverished neighborhoods.
Echoing predictions by political observers, early returns showed the measure passing handily.
The thoroughfare in question had been named Market Street since 1915, but the City Council voted in April 1986 to change it in honor of the slain civil rights leader.