The quieter corners of City Hall looked more like the backstage area of a Broadway show Sunday as thousands were waiting to see the inauguration of Ed Lee, the first elected Asian-American mayor in San Francisco history.
The party atmosphere of music, dance and other fanfare continued well after the 11 a.m. event, in which U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein — the only woman ever to serve as mayor of The City — administered Lee’s oath of office.
Former Mayor Willie Brown emceed the inauguration with light-hearted commentary and jokes, drawing big laughs from the crowd gathered in the expansive rotunda, where San Francisco’s five surviving former mayors were all seated in a row to witness the occasion.
Chinatown power broker Rose Pak was seated prominently in the front row. At one point, she aggressively goaded Lee to hand a note to Brown when he was speaking. The note appeared to contain an additional list of people to thank.
Pak, along with Brown, was the driving force behind Lee’s first-ever bid for elected office. Although she garnered plenty of support for Lee with Asian voters, she also drew controversy to his campaign.
In his inaugural speech, Lee took a serious tone to discuss his plans for The City, using his basic campaign slogan of “getting it done.” The mayor said new jobs are his top priority, an oft-repeated platform he predicted some might call boring.
“But that’s OK,” Lee said. “As long as we’re getting things done, I don’t mind being called boring.”
Lee delivered a stern message to 10 members of the Board of Supervisors seated in the front row that his desire to maintain civility at City Hall should not be hampered by petty politicking.
“I’m telling you now, as your mayor, we have no time for that,” Lee said. “We were all elected by the same boss — the people of San Francisco — and they expect us to get things done.”
Outgoing Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who is facing a District Attorney’s Office investigation into whether he should be charged with domestic violence against his wife, was conspicuously absent. Mirkarimi was publicly sworn in as sheriff just hours after Lee.
Reactions to historic moment
“Beautiful day in the city ... San Francisco inauguration of Mayor Ed Lee hosted by the Honorable Mayor Willie Brown. ..”
— Tweet from MC Hammer, whose 1991 hit “Too Legit to Quit” was used in a popular video supporting Lee
— Ashton Kutcher, who re-tweeted Lee’s midspeech message, “Tweeting during my inaugural address!”
“They didn’t all show up to mine.”
— Former Mayor Willie Brown, commenting on five surviving ex-mayors witnessing Lee inauguration
“Listening to Mayor Ed Lee deliver an inspiring inauguration speech about SF being the capital of innovation. Go mayor!”
— Tweet from Mark Pincus, CEO of Zynga, one of several big local tech companies Lee wants to support