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Breed claims victory after Leno concedes

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Former state Sen. Mark Leno today conceded to Supervisor London Breed in the mayor’s race. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

After it became clear she would become San Francisco’s first black female mayor Wednesday, Board of Supervisors President London Breed called for political unity to tackle the most pressing challenges facing The City.

Breed told a group of some 200 supporters outside of City Hall Wednesday afternoon that she was “so hopeful about the future of our city” while calling for The City to do more to help the homeless “sleeping on our streets” and to build more housing.

She paid her respects to the late Mayor Ed Lee, who died Dec. 12, which resulted in San Francisco holding the unanticipated June 5 mayoral contest. And like the late mayor, she called for consensus.

“I am prepared to make sure that I do everything I can to work together, to bring the Board of Supervisors together, to bring everyone together for the purposes of solving our most challenging problems,” Breed said.

Breed’s remarks came hours after former state Sen. Mark Leno conceded to her with a morning phone call after he determined victory was no longer within reach. Breed’s lead now stands at 2,177 votes, with fewer than 7,000 ballots remaining to count. Breed is expected to be sworn into office next month after the election results are certified, possibly on July 10.

Randy Shaw, executive director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic and a big supporter of Lee, said residents should be encouraged about how Breed will perform as mayor given how she conducted her campaign. “I didn’t see any slip ups. I saw everyone on message,” Shaw said.

“I think she will be a very pro-housing mayor and I think that is the most important issue facing San Francisco,” Shaw said. “She has to continue with Mayor Ed Lee’s agenda.”

Leno had attempted to cast Breed as the “status quo” and himself as a change agent that would tackle the impacts of the technology industry and homelessness, but his message fell short in resonating with the voters. He also attacked Breed for benefiting from outside spending from tech and real estate interests.

Once assuming her post as mayor, Breed is expected to appoint someone to fill the District 5 seat she will vacate on the Board of Supervisors. She will also appoint someone to fill the vacancy on the City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees left by Rafael Mandelman, who beat Supervisor Jeff Sheehy in the District 8 contest.

Breed supporter Rev. Amos Brown, the head of the San Francisco NAACP, and a former supervisor, was observing the ballot counting Tuesday. “It confirms what I said from the very beginning,” Brown said. “She has the character, competence, chemistry and courage to lead this city.”

Breed grew up in public housing in the Western Addition. She graduated from the University of California, Davis in 1997 and earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of San Francisco in 2012. In 2002, Breed became the executive director of the African American Art & Culture Complex. She has served on the now-defunct Redevelopment Agency commission and the Fire Commission. She was first elected to the Board of Supervisors in November 2012 and first became board president in 2014.

Breed came up through the ranks of the NAACP youth council and was a mentee of the late NAACP San Francisco chapter president Lulann Sapp McGriff, Brown noted.

“She, from her early days, hung around people whom she could learn more from. She is a great learner,” Brown said.

Reflecting on the significance of Breed becoming San Francisco’s first black woman mayor, Brown said, “It will move us closer toward being what we claim to be, and that is a progressive liberal city.”

“The African-American community, we are so happy,” said Virginia Marshall, a teacher at Galileo HIgh School, after Breed’s speech. She added that Breed is “still in touch with our young people. They know her by name. They can talk to her. She gives us so much hope.”

Leno teamed up with the other leading progressive mayoral candidate, Supervisor Jane Kim, for a ranked-choice voting strategy, which gave him a boost. When Kim, who came in third, was eliminated, 43,392 votes from Kim supporters went to Leno and 12,883 votes went to Breed.

But it wasn’t enough to overtake Breed.

Leno emphasized that the mayor’s race was close and didn’t mean that voters rejected progressive politics in siding with the moderate Breed. “This is one of, if not the, closest electoral decisions for a mayor of San Francisco in our history,” he said. Leno noted that that voters did approve progressive ballot measures and elected a progressive candidate in Mandelman, giving the board a progressive majority.

Leno said that the contest would remembered in the context of how “it is a very challenging time for us.”

“We have the best and worst of the worlds going on right now,” Leno said. He said that public investment has attracted innovation and creative spirits to San Francisco and “venture capital from around the world pouring into our little city.” But that there is a “shadow side. Too many people are finding themselves struggling to just stay in the city.”

The next mayoral race is November 2019.

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