As Mark Leno Concedes, London Breed Wins Mayoral Election

The president of the Board of Supervisors won the race by a small margin, becoming the first African-American woman mayor of San Francisco.

(Photo: Mira Laing)

The hotly-contested mayoral race, rapidly put together in the wake of Ed Lee’s death, appears to be over. Mark Leno conceded the election at 1 p.m. Wednesday. Ahead of the 4 p.m. announcement from the Department of Elections, which only had 7,000 votes left to count between yesterday and today, it appears safe to say that London Breed has won the election with a little more than 50 percent of the votes.

“This is an amazing city, and we had a number of amazing candidates who ran for mayor. I’d like to thank them for their commitment to San Francisco,” Breed said outside City Hall at 3 p.m. “I have said from the very beginning, whether you voted for me or not, as mayor I will be your mayor too. I am so hopeful about the future of this city.”

Leno told a crowd of media who gathered at his small business, Budget Signs Inc., that he called Breed Wednesday morning and congratulated her on her win. 

When asked by the media if Breed’s win was a sign that San Francisco wasn’t ready for a progressive candidate in the mayor’s seat, Leno said that is a “too simplistic approach to the results of this election.” He pointed out that this election saw a number of wins for progressives, from Rafael Mandelman’s seat in District 8 to the wins of Props. A, F, C, and E, plus the failure of H. 

Once the Department of Elections certifies the election, the Board of Supervisors will have to pass a resolution approving the results. Once current-Mayor Mark Farrell signs off on that, the results are officially official. 

Breed has a powerful backstory, which was used repeatedly to fuel her campaign. Born in 1974, she was raised in the now-demolished Plaza East housing projects in Western Addition by her grandmother. Her sister died of a drug overdose in 2006, and her brother is in prison.

But despite being raised in poverty and surrounded by violence, Breed finished high school, earned a degree in public policy from UC Davis, and became executive director of the struggling African American Arts and Culture Complex, where she raised a whopping $2.5 million in much-needed renovation funds.

Breed was elected to the District 5 Board of Supervisors seat in 2012, beating incumbent Christina Olague. She was narrowly re-elected by voters in 2016. During her tenure as supervisor, she’s fought to rehabilitate public housing, approve safe-injection facilities for drug users, eliminate criminal justice fees, and expand conservatorship laws for mentally-ill people experiencing homelessness.

But she’s also come under fire while a supervisor; In 2013 she deleted her highly-editorial Twitter account after tweeting that the biggest bicycling safety problem on city streets was cyclists’ behavior. During the 2015 trial of Raymond Chow, aka Shrimp Boy, an FBI source stated that he “pays Supervisor Breed with untraceable debit cards for clothing and trips in exchange for advantages on contracts in San Francisco,” spurring concerns over corruption, which Breed adamantly denied.

Breed didn’t escape criticism during her mayoral race, either. With strong financial backing from tech billionaires like Ron Conway, many voters voiced concern that she was siding with tech, and would continue to provide large corporations with tax breaks and lax laws that improve their business. She also missed nearly half of the scheduled mayoral forums, often bailing the day before.

Nevertheless, through ranked-choice voting, it was determined on June 13 that she had won the 2018 mayoral election. She’ll replace interim mayor Mark Farrell, who, along with a slew of progressive supervisors, famously ousted her from her seat as acting mayor in January, in July. She’ll have to run for the mayor again in November 2019, which is the traditional race date for the position.

Once she takes on the role of mayor, Breed will need to find a replacement for her District 5 supervisor seat. Shanell Williams and Thea Selby, both members of the Board of Trustees at City College, have both been floated as possibilities for replacement.

Nominating someone to fill the seat is one thing, but afterward, it’s unclear when an election for the District 5 seat will happen. According to the charter, special elections to fill vacancies have to take place at least 120 days after the vacancy occurs. If Breed officially leaves her role as supervisor for the Mayor’s office on the rumored-July 10, that places the November 6 election just under the 120-day requirement. With no June 2019 election planned, this would push the next D5 election to November 2019, giving whoever is nominated to the seat a long time to build up their status as an incumbent. 

This is a breaking news story. Stay tuned for updates.

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