SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — London Breed was inaugurated as the first female African-American mayor of San Francisco Wednesday, in a festive ceremony on the steps of City Hall.
Breed, a San Francisco native, won the mayor’s seat after a neck-and-neck race in the June election with former state Sen. Mark Leno.
Wednesday morning’s ceremony was attended by several state and city officials and saw former San Francisco mayor, current state Lt. Gov. and gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom swear Breed in. Breed is the second woman to become mayor of San Francisco. The first was current U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who welcomed Breed to the exclusive club in a video message.
Breed will take the reins of a city facing a litany of challenges. Beneath the beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge and a iconic skyline, San Francisco is beset by a growing homeless population and a housing market soaring beyond affordability for the middle class.
Just last week, organizers cancelled plans to stage a major convention in the city because of fears over security and conventioneers not wanting to run the gauntlet of panhandlers and blight in the streets.
When it comes to affordable housing, Breed simply has to recall her own experience. She was a member of the city’s Board Of Supervisors, making $110,000 and couldn’t afford to live on her own.
“It was very challenging,” she said told KPIX 5 of her rental experience. “I’m living on my own now and I was actually in the process of trying to find another roommate but now that I have a salary increase I can take care of the rent on my own.”
“Affordability is a big issue and that is a big issue with a lot of people, people with families with kids. Kids are expensive.”
The 43-year-old will now earn an annual salary of $335,996.
Breed is a very much a product of San Francisco. The 43-year-old was raised by her grandmother in public housing and earned her master’s degree from the University of San Francisco.
She has also experienced the mean side of San Francisco’s streets — her sister died of a drug overdose, her brother is in state prison.
“I was just fortunate, in that I had teachers who supported me,” she said of her journey. “I have a grandmother who was very strict.”
Her inauguration will be a signature San Francisco moment. But Breed also knows the city has changed over her lifetime.
“We don’t have as many African-Americans in San Francisco as we had in the past,” she said. “There aren’t as many children – I used to see kids everywhere all the time — you just don’t see that anymore.”
On Wednesday, Breed was sworn in in by Lt. Gov. and former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in a ceremony overseen by former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and including local civil rights icon Rev. Amos C. Brown, president of the San Francisco branch of the NAACP.
Among her closest advisers is U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, who once served as San Francisco’s district attorney.
“We’ve always had a great relationship,” she told KPIX of Harris. “She has always been more like motherly, giving advice.”
Breed said she has repaired her relationship with Brown.
“I worked for him, I supported him wholeheartedly, but yes we had a falling out when I ran for Supervisor,” she said. “But we are friends again.”
Repairing fences has been something Breed has become very adept at over the last year since former Mayor Ed Lee’s untimely death. As president of the Board of Supervisors, she assumed his office with Lee’s passing. But then her colleagues in the board voted to replace her.
She successfully won the right to serve out Lee’s remaining tenure in a narrow June election win over former State Senator Mark Leno. Now, Breed knows she’ll need everyone onboard if she is to successfully steer San Francisco forward.
“You can’t please everyone. Not everyone is going to like you, not everyone is going to do what you want them to do,” she said.
“And what I noticed about this board, and what made me so proud to be a part of it is, we stand our ground, we do what we think is best and we try to fight for the people we represent.”
© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service and The Associated Press contributed to this report.