Ed Lee, San Francisco's mustachioed mayor, subtly dodged questions about rumors of being tapped to lead presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton's Housing and Urban Development department or to serve as education secretary. (Mike Koomin/2013 S.F. Examiner)

Mayor Ed Lee responds to rumored cabinet posting by Hillary Clinton

http://sfexaminer.com/category/the-city/sf-news-columns/on-guard/

Mayor Ed Lee has finally answered a burning question on The City’s mind.

After news broke yesterday that Hillary Clinton was considering our mild-mannered mayor for her presidential cabinet, tongues were wagging on the potential for Mayor Lee to flee.

Citing “Democratic sources,” The Hill reported that Lee is being eyed to lead Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or to serve as education secretary.

His answer? Resoundingly non-committal!

That’s a shame, because in a divisive election year, people across the political spectrum were happy to hear the news of his possible appointment: Moderate Democrats said they’d love to see Lee’s “build, build, build” housing policy hit the nation, and most progressives would be glad to see him go.

The Hill said Lee might be tapped for HUD because he has been “focused on affordable housing issues as his city has experienced a tech boom.”

Cue gasps from across SF’s blogosphere.

Though many of Lee’s critics were taken aback that The City’s housing crisis could be a national badge of honor, Lee’s supporters pointed out that the mayor is a former rabble-rousing civil rights lawyer with the Asian Law Caucus, where he batted back evictions across Chinatown.

And, as an aside, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Chuck Nevius (oh so conveniently) ran a piece about Lee’s housing history yesterday titled “Need for decent public housing hits home with Mayor Lee.”

Nevius’ piece touts Lee’s record using HUD funding to help fund affordable housing the same day The Hill dropped its rumor of a Lee nod for HUD.

Golly what a coinkydink. A testament to Chuck’s clairvoyance. It also might be a hint that the Mayor’s Office is taking the nod seriously, by using Nevius’ podium to call attention to his housing record.

Anyhow, back to the matter at hand: Would Lee take the gig or not?

On Guard sought out the mayor outside Donut Time on 31st Avenue and Noriega Street, where he was stumping for Propositions J and K. Due to the context, we asked the obvious question first: What’s your favorite donut?

“I can’t answer that with Anita watching!” he joked, referring to his wife.

That’s when we asked the big question: Would he accept Hillary’s nod for the cabinet, if it comes?

“Those are both hard questions,” Lee answered.

“Let me be very clear,” he said, “This is all speculation right now because Hillary’s got to make it to the presidency, and I’ve got to be part of the effort to make sure people vote, and they vote for Hillary.”

But, he said, “Right now it’s all speculation.” He added, “I need to make sure people are voting for the president, but also the measures we’re really feeling are so important to keep the city strong. That’s what I came to the office for.”

I asked if he was at least honored to be rumored for the post.

“I will say this,” he answered, “to the extent that work coming out of San Francisco, whether it’s housing, helping the homeless, the veterans, our families, if those are being recognized, that’s a good thing.”

“I’m not even closed to finished,” he said.

I couldn’t help but push him just a bit to answer a little more substantively, however.

“Were you tempted just a little bit?” I asked, as he walked away from me and my recorder.

He held up a finger as he walked, looked back and said, “speculation!”

On Guard prints the news and raises hell each week. Email Fitz at joe@sfexaminer.com, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram @FitztheReporter.

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