About 1,000 people gathered Wednesday to witness London Breed, San Francisco’s first African-American female mayor, take the oath of office and be sworn in by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom on the steps of City Hall.
The San Francisco native Breed, who grew up in public housing being taken care of by her grandmother, became The City’s 45th mayor after narrowly defeating former state Sen. Mark Leno in June.
City department heads, city officials, supporters and even baseball legend Willie Mays was in the audience watching Breed take her oath. The host of the ceremony was San Francisco Giants announcer Renel Brooks-Moon.
Video messages from U.S. congressional leaders Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Sen. Kamala Harris, Rep. Jackie Speier and Rep. Barbara Lee were also played during the hour-long ceremony.
Rabbi Beth Singer, who joined Rev. Amos Brown in giving the invocation, said it was a historic day in The City:
“She is our answer to our prayers.”
Brown said he hoped President Donald Trump was watching the inauguration all the way from Brussels where Trump is meeting with world leaders at a NATO summit:
“… and be able to see how we should act and love each other and not take out children away from their parents.”
Breed laid out her plan for the next 17 months and said is she ready to take on challenges The City faces, including an affordable housing crisis, homelessness and drug use on San Francisco streets.
Breed said The City’s economy and wealth is still growing from the tech boom, but said it has also created challenges for vulnerable residents:
“We have failed in building more housing to accommodate the increase in the number of job opportunities that have poured into San Francisco pushing residents who have been here all their lives out of the city they call home.”
Breed mentioned those opposed to building more housing, most notably “Not In My Backyard,” or NIMBY, individuals:
“I plan to change the politics of no to the politics of yes. Yes, we will build more housing.”
Breed also plans to reform the mental health system in The City by appointing guardians to those who cannot take care of themselves, saying that conservatorship laws must change:
“We know people struggling on our streets with mental illness and addiction that they are experiencing challenges and it is not ok to just leave them out there to die because they have rights.”
Safe injection sites are also atop of Breed’s agenda.
Breed said she wanted to treat the drug crisis in a different way, by not just providing a place for people to use drugs safely, but to also provide on-demand treatment.
Breed also took aim at Trump during her inaugural speech. She said she will commit to making sure high school students in The City get paid internships, and to keep them in school:
“We are going to tell the president that here in San Francisco we don’t put children in cages, we put them in the classrooms.”
The new mayor will have to work with a Board of Supervisors that now has six progressive members. Rafael Mandelman, who will represent District 8, was sworn into office later Wednesday afternoon. Mandelman is considered a progressive.
Breed said roadblocks of the past cannot get in the way of solving the many issues residents face in The City:
“We can’t let the politics of progressive and moderate and all of those things that have torn our city apart get in the way of our ability to deliver for the people of San Francisco.”
“People who are struggling are depending on us. The next generation of San Franciscans, they’re depending on us to be grown-ups, to make the right decisions, to do what’s necessary to make San Francisco better place.”
The road to Room 200
The June election was necessitated after the sudden death of Mayor Ed Lee on Dec. 12, 2017. Lee’s passing elevated Breed from president of the Board of Supervisors to the acting mayor, as the City Charter mandates.
Breed had served as the District 5 supervisor since 2012. She was elected president of the Board of Supervisors in 2015, and re-elected in 2017.
Breed’s brief time as acting mayor ended in late January when the progressive faction of the board voted her out and installed District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell as interim mayor until the June election.
If Breed had continued as acting mayor, she would have been designated as the incumbent on the June ballot. Supervisors who voted Farrell into the interim position, including supervisor Aaron Peskin and Hillary Ronen, wanted to see an election without any candidate listed as incumbent.
The election drama continued for months, with her opponents labeling Breed on the side of tech billionaires, and that the status quo in The City would remain if voters elected Breed.
Even after all votes were cast, it took more than a week before the completed tally presented a clear winner. Breed declared her victory over Leno on the same steps of City Hall where she delivered her inaugural speech.
Breed will serve the remainder of Lee’s term until January 2020 with the next mayoral election happening next year in November.