Rewriting History: SF, Meet Your New Mayor—London Breed
In a tight race for mayoral office, an African-American woman has been elected mayor of the city of San Francisco. Here is what you need to know.
After her opponent, Mark Leno, conceded last Wednesday evening—Breed will serve until 2020, finishing the term of the late Mayor Ed Lee, who died in December at age 65. Born in San Francisco, Breed sparked an optimistic tone with the SF voters who are still reeling from Lee's death, "I am so hopeful about the future of our city, and I am looking forward to serving as your mayor. I am truly humbled and I am truly honored," said Breed.
Breed was raised by her grandmother in Plaza East Public Housing in the Western Addition community, located in District 5. She graduated with honors from Galileo High School and attended the University of California, Davis, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science-Public Service with a minor in African American Studies. London went on to earn a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco.
Prior to her election as District 5 Supervisor, London served as Executive Director of the African American Art & Culture Complex in the Western Addition for over a decade, transforming the struggling center into a vital, financially stable community resource, providing after school arts and cultural programs for youth and seniors.
Though in our eyes, we're not entirely sure about Breed's intentions as acting mayor. Breed has spoken out on a lot of San Francisco's rolling issues big and small. Housing, homelessness, cleanliness, tech, environmental compliance plans, the list goes on but has yet to focus on a harden issue for the press. She aims to tackle a number of issues in her current term until 2020. San Francisco’s mayoral race makes clear how obfuscating it can be to assume that one implies the other—and how confusing campaign politics get when policy history and personal history are both in play but don’t line up. Breed, the candidate (now winner) with the most underprivileged background of the three (Leno and Kim), has drawn support from the most privileged figures in the city and, although she has a brother in prison, seems to favor the strongest policing platform.
When it comes to neighborhood support, the residents had clear hurrah and hurray for their now mayor. More interestingly, Chinatown, whose political clout helped Lee win, appears to support Breed. Both Breed and Leno, curiously, claim endorsements from Kamala Harris. In the matter of practical political alliances, at least, biography seems to be off the table.
In an interview with Hoodline, Breed reiterated her main goals as mayor of San Francisco, "[As] mayor, I believe we are in a historic moment," she states, "an opportunity to change direction, share ideas, and strengthen our city. I want to tackle the challenges we are all facing: housing, homelessness, and public safety. I want to create a city where everyone can succeed, no matter who you are or where you come from."
And with small businesses closing left and right, City Hall has a notorious history with pushing dreams to the wayside, "what makes this city special is that we are a city of neighborhoods and our neighborhoods are formed by our small businesses and merchant corridors. I have gone to the same dry cleaner for decades. City Hall has a reputation of being anti-small business — I am not."
For those who want to see San Francisco reach No Waste by 2020, you will most likely find home in Breed—The now mayor passed the strongest Styrofoam ban in the country, as well as drug take-back legislation that has kept over 40 tons of medical waste out of the Bay and landfills. She spearheaded San Francisco’s clean electrical energy program, CleanPowerSF, which is the City’s most important climate change effort, projected to cut more than 940K tons of CO2 each year while reducing energy costs.