London Breed landed the president’s seat on the Board of Supervisors at a time when San Francisco is undergoing dramatic change as a result of a booming, technology-fueled economy. That change is not only happening on the streets but also inside City Hall.
Addressing head-on San Francisco’s income inequality, Breed said Thursday that “wealth is nothing without love, without compassion.” She described how she was raised by her grandmother in Plaza East public housing in the Fillmore neighborhood living with up to nine people on $700 month.
“I am the product of liberal policies,” Breed said. “I am here because liberal policies can work. They can offer a hand up to those who need them the most.”
Breed called for the board to work together and refused the political label of a moderate, even though she is considered a supervisor aligned with the politics of Mayor Ed Lee and represents further erosion of the left-leaning influence in San Francisco government.
Representing District 5 since January 2013, the supervisor was elected to a two-year presidency term Thursday afternoon. Her district includes the Western Addition, Haight and Fillmore neighborhoods. Breed is the first black board president since Doris Ward in 1991.
Breed previously worked as executive director of the African American Art and Cultural Complex, a post she was appointed to in 2002 by then-Mayor Willie Brown to oversee the city-owned facility in the Western Addition. Prior to that, she held other posts in Brown’s administration.
Breed was elected to the Board of Supervisors in November 2012, after beating out more progressive candidates including incumbent Christina Olague, whom Mayor Ed Lee appointed.
Breed was a strong frontrunner when the board voted for interim president in November. But it was said that she could not get at least six votes to make it happen, as Supervisor Mark Farrell, another moderate, also sought the post. That left Supervisor Katy Tang as a perceived consensus choice. But before that meeting, Tang expressed a reluctance to hold the post, an attitude that seemingly did not change, giving Breed the opportunity to secure the two-year term Thursday.
The vote took place moments after the newest member of the board, District 3 Supervisor Julie Christensen, was sworn in after being appointed by Mayor Ed Lee. She fills the vacancy left by David Chiu, who was sworn in Dec. 1 to serve as San Francisco’s Assembly representative in District 17.
Since coming in to office, Breed has passed legislation to increase fines for graffiti vandals; changed outdated arcade laws to make it easier for small businesses to have pinball machines and the like; called attention to poor ambulance response times; and become a strong supporter of CleanPowerSF, a municipal power program.
Breed said in 2013 that San Francisco should not call itself diverse until The City once again has a thriving population of black residents. There has been a 36 percent decrease in the black population during the past two decades. Supervisor Malia Cohen, who nominated Breed for the presidency, said her colleague has matured in her two years in office.
“Many of you may remember she was a brash hothead,” Cohen said jokingly. “Supervisor Breed is a talented woman, she is courageous, she is smart, she is disciplined.”
During her campaign for supervisor in 2012, Breed was known to drop the F-bomb on occasion and once in office canceled her Twitter account as her tweets became controversial, including the time she cited bicyclists’ behavior for making streets unsafe.
What’s left of the left-leaning faction on the board made its own move Thursday for the presidency. Supervisor John Avalos nominated one of the more progressive senior members, David Campos, for the post. In November, Campos lost a heated Assembly race against Chiu and is entering his seventh year on the board representing the Mission neighborhood.
“He has shown he has a significant base of support around San Francisco, people who really believe in his work and his effort,” Avalos said of Campos.
The initial vote was 8-3 for Breed. Campos, Avalos and Supervisor Jane Kim voted for Campos.
It was later rescinded and Breed became president in an 11-0 vote.