Coverage of Acting Mayor London Breed and the Death of Ed Lee


Supervisor London Breed at Third Baptist Church of San Francisco in December 2014 during a service that featured Michael Brown Sr., whose son was shot dead by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., four month earlier. Photo by Steve Rhodes // San Francisco Public Press

We’ve gathered excerpts and links about London Breed becoming the acting mayor of San Francisco after Ed Lee, the city’s first Asian-American mayor, died early Tuesday after suffering a heart attack.

Updated Dec. 16

San Francisco Examiner:

Supervisors mull ‘caretaker’ mayors to replace London Breed in January

Acting Mayor London Breed may not hang onto her gig very long, if some members of the Board of Supervisors have their way.

Though The City has hardly had time to mourn the death of Mayor Ed Lee — may he rest in peace — the supervisors are already considering who may lead San Francisco during a tumultuous election cycle.

Lee’s death accelerated the November 2019 mayor’s race to an incredibly early June 2018, catapulting the potential for early political conflict.

To avoid giving any one mayoral candidate a leg up in the race — including rumored candidates like Breed and supervisors Mark Farrell and Jane Kim — the board may vote to instate a “caretaker” mayor, who would pledge not to run.

Former mayors Art Agnos and Willie Brown are two names being discussed behind the scenes as possible caretaker mayors, according to multiple background sources, as are former City Controller Ed Harrington and former Assemblymember Tom Ammiano….

San Francisco Chronicle:

With Lee gone, San Franciscans look for leadership on homelessness

As city officials grapple with their grief and the political machinations around the election of a new mayor in June, residents are right to wonder whether their biggest concerns will continue to be addressed or fall off the radar. And if the “Night of the Living Dead” scenes on the streets exist with the attention of City Hall, what would they be like without it?

For now, department heads are plugging along, doing the same work they were doing before the mayor’s death, because nobody has said to do otherwise. But that could change if a new mayor sets different priorities. …

Concerns raised over Breed serving as both SF mayor, supervisor

Days after London Breed took over as San Francisco’s acting mayor, her colleagues on the Board of Supervisors were already talking about appointing someone else to the position.

Breed, who is also the board’s president, was long seen as a contender to succeed Ed Lee in 2019. Lee’s unexpected death Tuesday vaulted her into the city’s top office, and if she can keep the high-profile job, she’ll have a big advantage in the June 5 election to finish the rest of his term.

But several supervisors and legislative aides are scrambling to block Breed. Two supervisors, Mark Farrell and Jane Kim, may challenge her for the seat in June, and four others — Aaron Peskin, Sandra Lee Fewer, Ahsha Safaí and Norman Yee — have endorsed Mark Leno for mayor. …

Mayor Ed Lee’s body to lie in state in SF City Hall rotunda

A memorial celebration for Mayor Ed Lee will take place Sunday afternoon in the San Francisco City Hall rotunda, just down the grand stone staircase from the second-floor office where he governed the city for six years.

The service, which begins at 3 p.m., is open to the public “as building capacity allows,” according to an announcement on Wednesday from the mayor’s office. City Hall insiders say that means arrive early.

The mayor, who died of a heart attack on Tuesday, will lie in state in the rotunda from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday. …

London Breed painting herself as logical mayoral successor to Ed Lee

London Breed’s eulogy to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, delivered on a second-floor balcony in City Hall just hours after the mayor’s death on Tuesday, was in many senses a coming-out address.

“Like me, Ed Lee grew up in public housing,” said Breed, setting up a working-class allegory in which she deftly compared herself to the late mayor.

Breed, who is president of the Board of Supervisors, had vaulted overnight into the role of acting mayor, which she may hold until the June 5 election. The unexpected turn of events seemed to bolster her standing in what could be a crowded race to fill the remaining two years of Lee’s term. If she wins in June, she could hold San Francisco’s top job for 10 years by finishing the last two years of Lee’s term and eight years of her own. …

Once a reluctant politician, he came to shape today’s San Francisco

Lee’s time in office came during, and was largely defined by, the Bay Area’s latest and biggest high-tech boom. As jobs and new money poured into the city and San Francisco became the global hub of a new digital age, the contemplative bureaucrat who preferred working behind the scenes was thrust into the high-profile position of juggling the city’s soaring economic success with the growing issues of traffic, housing affordability and homelessness.

Lee navigated a fine line between backing the burgeoning tech industry and pledging to ease its fallout by supporting new housing and boosting social programs. The challenge was unrelenting. …

Supervisor London Breed becomes acting S.F. mayor upon Ed Lee’s death

London Breed, a native San Franciscan who was raised by her grandmother in the city’s housing projects, became acting mayor of San Francisco early Tuesday morning.

Breed was elected as supervisor in 2012 and became board president in 2015 after David Chiu was elected to the state Assembly. She was expected to be a candidate to replace Lee when his second term expired in two years. She ran in a tighter-than-expected re-election bid last year after being challenged by Dean Preston, a more liberal opponent. The race signaled the changing demographics and frustration among longtime residents in her diverse district, which includes the Haight-Ashbury, Hayes Valley, the Fillmore and Western Addition neighborhoods. …

Lee’s death complicates politics for next mayoral race

A number of longtime San Francisco politicians were eyeing the desk in City Hall’s Room 200. Board of Supervisors President London Breed is now acting mayor and the 11 members of the board may vote to retain her or choose another candidate to serve until the June 2018 election. The next regularly scheduled mayoral election is in 2019.

Mark Leno, who has served as a supervisor, state senator and assemblyman, has already announced his candidacy for mayor in 2019. He could now run in June, as could Assemblyman David Chiu, who appeared to be positioning himself for a race by attending a string of San Francisco community events during the recent legislative break in Sacramento.

Philanthropist Daniel Lurie has also discussed a possible run. Supervisors Mark Farrell and Jane Kim have been talked about as possible candidates. Breed was already courting endorsements for a run in 2019 and will likely enter the race in June.
Among the potential candidates, Breed’s ascension to mayor gives her a head start, but the supervisors could conceivably vote someone else in as mayor. …

Editorial: A mayor who calmed S.F. City Hall

It’s hard to overstate the ideological and personal chasms that pervaded San Francisco City Hall when Ed Lee became interim mayor in January 2011. Lee, the highly capable city administrator with no burning political ambition, was the perfect candidate for a tumultuous time. …

Beyond Chron:

Ed Lee’s Historic Legacy

Many see Lee’s legacy as his being the city’s first Chinese-American mayor. But Lee’s impact on San Francisco is far more significant for his policy accomplishments.

His historic legacy is primarily in three main areas: housing, the revival of Mid-Market/ Tenderloin, and transitioning San Francisco’s economy into the post-tech era.

Lee took on issues in all areas, such as pushing to build housing on the Westside, that no prior mayor had adequately addressed. He consistently offered a bold approach at odds with media depictions of him as an unambitious city leader. …


In Ed Lee’s San Francisco, Utopia and Dystopia Are Neighbors

From the tall windows of WIRED’s offices in San Francisco’s South-of-Market neighborhood I’ve watched almost a decade of radical change made physical in concrete and glass. The city’s forest of new skyscrapers is at least in part the legacy of Mayor Ed Lee, who died early Tuesday morning after almost seven years in office.

San Francisco is rolling into the second quarter of the 21st century with the purposeful but cautious stutter-step speed of a first-generation self-driving car—the wealthiest, youngest, smartest people on earth live alongside some of the poorest; utopia and dystopia are barely a few blocks apart. That’s the city Ed Lee built. …

KALW public radio:

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee dies at 65

LISTEN: With the sudden death of San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee in the early hours of the morning, KALW News Director Ben Trefny reprises the story and clips from a conversation with the mayor during his re-election campaign.


Lee’s Death Shocks the City

We should all probably take a moment to appreciate the man we have lost, and not think right away about the political future. But for better or for worse, there’s little time for that.

Mission Local:

In Lee, Mission leaders saw an immigrant ally who couldn’t quell a crisis

The neighborhood best known for its immigrant Latino community and culture had an ally in Mayor Ed Lee – but the alliance was strained by the fallout of Lee’s well-intentioned business and development policies. …

The Legacy of Ed Lee

In life, the mayor could be a divisive figure; he served as something of the city’s official greeter for the social and economic conditions inundating San Francisco like a tsunami; as such, he was an ever-smiling cipher who absorbed untold quantities of public wrath. In January of last year, he was booed, lustily, at his third swearing-in after a mayoral contest in which he essentially ran unopposed. That series of seemingly contrasting circumstances neatly encapsulates the slightly surreal state of our city and the strange fortunes of our erstwhile mayor.

This morning, however — as was the case last year following the sudden death of Lee’s lifelong friend and patron turned bitter critic Rose Pak — the mayor’s own sudden death induced political enemies to clutch one another and sway and weep. …

KQED public radio:

As Board Weighs Options, Breed Has Inside Track on Remaining Mayor

As Mayor, Ed Lee Broke Barriers but Left a Complicated Legacy

Edwin M. Lee, San Francisco’s first Asian-American mayor, died suddenly early Tuesday morning after suffering an apparent heart attack while grocery shopping. He was 65 years old.

London Breed, president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, became acting mayor upon Lee’s death.

“Ed was not a politician,” Breed said at a City Hall press conference Tuesday morning. “He did not always deliver the best sound bite. He was humble and determined. No matter the job he held, he was fair and collaborative.”

Associated Press:

The Latest: Hundreds mourn Mayor Ed Lee at City Hall

San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee oversaw explosive growth

New York Times:

Ed Lee, San Francisco Mayor, Dies at 65

San Francisco Examiner:

Powdered milk and moving vans: The fight for affordable housing

A September 2016 op-ed by Breed:

The tin can with “Pork” stamped on it, the box of powdered milk. They were our staples, grape juice a rare treat.

I grew up in Plaza East public housing in the Western Addition, five of us living on $900 per month. “Recycling” meant drinking out of old mayonnaise jars. Violence was never far away. And once a week, we took Grandma’s pushcart to the community room to collect government-issued groceries. …

I’ve lived in poverty. I’ve seen my friends, my community forced from the city I call home.

I am life-long renter, living in a rent-controlled apartment with a roommate. Our landlady recently passed away, and our building just sold. To this day — as president of the Board of Supervisors — my housing future is uncertain. …


Re-Elected District 5 Supervisor London Breed Talks Priorities, Rejoining Twitter & More

A February 2017 interview wth Breed after she was re-elected president of the Board of Supervisors:

Breed prides herself on her District 5 roots, and feels strongly about her decisions concerning what’s best for the district she grew up in—decisions that have at times prompted critics to argue she’s too in-step with the agenda of the Mayor’s Office, a criticism she rejects. …

Meet London Breed, Your New Supervisor

A January 2013 interview with Breed, just before she was sworn in as District Five supervisor:

We asked readers of our blogs for questions for London, and we posed several of the most common ones to her during our interview. What follows is an admittedly lengthy transcript of our conversation. …

SF Weekly:

Right to Counsel

Supervisors London Breed and Jeff Sheehy announced a plan Nov. 14 to offer legal services to renters who are served eviction notices.

“San Francisco still doesn’t have a law that exists which give tenants the right to counsel,” Breed says. “Ninety percent of eviction cases go unrepresented, and it severely affects the outcome of those cases. The city already spends $4.4 million on legal services for eviction defense for low-income individuals, but we are incredibly limited and can only serve a small percentage of those who actually need help.”

At first read, the proposed legislation sounds good. In a city plagued by evictions, the right to an attorney could be a way to hand a little more power to the renters, who face teams of property owners’ lawyers skilled in the ins and outs of legally removing tenants from their homes.

But dig a little under the surface and the legislation raises more questions than it answers …

Board of Supervisors:

Breed’s official city biography.

San Francisco Magazine:

Ed Lee Remembered By Those Who Knew Him Best

Ed Lee’s Daddest Dad Jokes

“But He’s Not a Politician!”

A profile of Mayor Ed Lee for the magazine’s December 2013 Power Issue.

Lunch With the Lees

A conversation with Lee and his, wife, Anita, in a Chinatown restaurant on New Year’s Day 2015.

Acting mayor London Breed in the morning following the death of former mayor Ed Lee. Photo by Noah Arroyo // San Francisco Public Press

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