San Francisco gets first Black female mayor

London Breed victory caps a journey from public housing to City Hall

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Mayor London Breed

Crusader Staff Report

London Breed made history on Wednesday, June 13, when she became San Francisco’s first Black female mayor, capping an intense, close political campaign race that ended when her opponent, California State Senator Mark Leno, conceded eight days after election day.

There were still about 1,900 ballots left to count, but when Leno conceded, Breed had 50.42 percent of the vote, including nearly 37 percent of first-place votes. Now for the first time in 198 years, San Francisco will be led by a Black female, one who grew up in public housing projects.

As Board of Supervisors president, Breed was acting mayor for a month after former Mayor Ed Lee’s death in December. She lost the job when the board of colleagues voted to make Mark Farrell mayor in a move that drew accusations of racism and discrimination.  Political analysts said the move altered the dynamic of the mayor’s race, and removed Breed’s advantage as an incumbent.

Supporters also were outraged that the removal of Breed was an insult to the city’s dwindling African American community, which has grown disenfranchised from the political establishment. At nearly 900,000 residents, San Francisco is the nation’s 13th largest city. According to the U.S. Census, five percent of its residents are Black. These statistics make Breed’s win even more significant, as they are an indication that she did not need the Black vote to win over a predominately white city.

Her win is a vindication of her campaign stand that she was a mayor for the entire city.

Breed fought on and won over voters as she made her out-of-the-projects story the focus of her campaign. She grew up poor in the Plaza East public housing projects in the city’s Western Addition neighborhood, where she was raised by her grandmother. She has become an example to a city that has a big gap between the poor and the affluent.

Breed’s historic victory comes as San Francisco reaches a critical crossroads. The city is grappling with a chronic homeless crisis, trash-strewn streets, and a housing shortage that threatens to squeeze middle- and low-income residents out of the city.

“I’m so hopeful about the future of our city,” Breed told a cheering crowd of supporters Wednesday afternoon on the steps of City Hall, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “I’m looking forward to serving as your mayor, and I’m truly humbled and truly honored.

“We know that so many people care about this city. So many people care about making sure that we’re coming together to address these most challenging issues,” Breed said. “And I am prepared to make sure that I do everything that I can to work together, to bring the Board of Supervisors together, to bring everyone together for the purpose of solving our most challenging problems.”

“She is a remarkable young woman and she is going to do a very fine job and we wish her all the best, because her success is San Francisco’s success,” Leno said in a brief news conference at a sign shop he runs near City Hall.

According to the Associated Press, of the three leading candidates, Breed raised the most money with the help of big contributions from big backers, at least $2.3 million to her political campaign committee and two other committees that supported her.

In a statement Wednesday, Farrell offered his “sincere congratulations to Mayor-elect London Breed on her election victory. I commit my full support, both personally, and through my staff, to make this transition between our administrations as smooth as possible.”

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