SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — In the hours after San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s death, Board of Supervisors President London Breed was automatically appointed as the city’s acting mayor early Tuesday.
She will remain at the helm — according to the City Charter — until the Board of Supervisors meets and votes in a replace for Lee. Whoever that candidate is, will have to earn six votes from the board to win the position.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera said there was no set time limit for a vote for a permanent replacement. Until the vote, Breed will be San Francisco’s first female African American mayor.
Breed asked San Franciscans to be patient and to pray for her as she takes over as the city’s leader.
“Our first Chinese American mayor, a man who has left an immeasurable legacy for the city and county of San Francisco (is now gone),” she said at a morning news conference. “I now must assume the responsibility and I ask for your patience and I ask for your support and I ask for your prayers. Our city’s values have never been more important and in the months ahead let’s carry on in Mayor Lee’s honor.”
Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown called Breed a tough minded and tenacious leader.
“London Breed is San Francisco born,” Brown said. “She comes from the other side of the tracks, so to speak. She was raised in public housing, primarily by her grandmother.”
Breed went earned an undergraduate degree at UC Davis and a master’s degree at the University of San Francisco.
“She has been an employee of the city and county of San Francisco,” Brown said. “She has run a community-based organization — the Western Addition Community Center. She’s served on various boards and commissions — redevelopment and fire. And she was elected against an incumbent (former District 5 supervisor Christina Olague in 2012).”
Using a platform of building and protecting affordable housing, increasing public safety, improving environmental health, and modernizing public transportation, Breed was re-elected on Nov. 8, 2016.
She was unanimously re-elected to another two-year term as Board President on January 9 by her fellow supervisors.
Generally associated with the board’s “moderate” political faction and previously rumored to be weighing a run for mayor, Breed grew up in a public housing complex in San Francisco within the district that she now represents.
That background is one she shared with Lee, who grew up in public housing in Seattle.
“He asked my top three priorities and I said public housing, public housing, public housing,” Breed said at a news conference at City Hall. “As someone who grew up there and spent most of my life there, we bonded over that.”
“He always said he didn’t want folks like us to be known as public housing residents, he wanted them to be known as San Franciscans,” she said.
Breed has said her childhood experiences have helped inform her thinking on issues such as housing, where she has worked to include housing priced for moderate-income earners in city affordable housing requirements, and safe injecting rooms, which she has championed after seeing her own sister die of a drug overdose.