Ed Lee (politician)
|43rd Mayor of San Francisco|
January 11, 2011
|Preceded by||Gavin Newsom|
|City Administrator of San Francisco|
June 22, 2005 – January 11, 2011
|Succeeded by||Naomi M. Kelly|
May 5, 1952 |
|Spouse(s)||Anita Lee (m. 1980)|
|Residence||San Francisco, California|
|Alma mater||Bowdoin College
University of California, Berkeley
Edwin Mah Lee (Chinese: 李孟賢; pinyin: Lǐ Mèngxián, born May 5, 1952) is the 43rd Mayor of San Francisco, California. He was appointed by the Board of Supervisors on January 11, 2011 to serve out the remainder of former mayor Gavin Newsom's term, after Newsom resigned to take office as Lieutenant Governor of California. At the time of his appointment, Lee pledged not to run for the office, but he later decided to join the race. Lee won the election on November 8, 2011 to serve a full term as Mayor.
Lee was born in 1952 in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. His parents immigrated to the United States from Toishan, Guangdong Province, China in the 1930s. Lee's father, Gok Suey Lee, fought in World War II, and worked as a cook managing a restaurant in Seattle. He died when Lee was 15. His mother was a seamstress and waitress. Lee has five siblings. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Bowdoin College in Maine in 1974 and from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law in 1978. He married his wife Anita in 1980 and has two daughters, Tania and Brianna.
San Francisco government
After completing law school, Lee worked as Managing Attorney for the San Francisco Asian Law Caucus where he was an advocate for affordable housing and the rights of immigrants and renters. In 1989, Lee was appointed by Mayor Art Agnos as the City's first investigator under the city's Whistleblower Ordinance. Agnos later appointed him deputy director of human relations. In 1991, he was hired as executive director of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, serving in that capacity under Mayors Agnos, Frank Jordan, and Willie Brown. Brown appointed him Director of City Purchasing, where, among other responsibilities, he ran the City's first Minority/Women-Owned Business Enterprise program.
In 2000, he was appointed Director of Public Works for the City, and in 2005 was appointed by Mayor Newsom to a five-year term as City Administrator, to which he was reappointed in 2010. As City Administrator, Lee oversaw the reduction of city government and implemented the city’s first ever Ten Year Capital Plan.
Appointment as mayor
Under the San Francisco City Charter, vacancies in the mayoral office may be filled by a majority vote of the Board of Supervisors, in which each supervisor is barred from voting for himself or herself. Speculation about possible appointees and debate on whether or not the old Board of Supervisors should cast the vote for the new mayor soon followed after Newsom's election as lieutenant governor. (Four old supervisors were term-limited and four new people were elected in the 2010 election to take their place)
The Board of Supervisors nominated four people: former Mayor Art Agnos, Sheriff Michael Hennessey, former Board of Supervisors president Aaron Peskin, and Lee. None of them captured the necessary six votes at a meeting of the board on January 4, 2011, but after an acrimonious debate, some supervisors expressed willingness to switch their support to Lee, and the meeting was recessed until January 7. At the January 7 meeting, the old board voted 10–1 to elect Lee as mayor, with outgoing Supervisor Chris Daly casting the lone "no" vote. At the time, Lee pledged not to seek election if appointed, a statement which helped to gain support for his appointment. The board included people who aimed to run in the November 2011 mayoral elections; none of them wished to give the mayoral position to someone who might be their competitor in those elections, which would give that person the significant political advantages of incumbency.
The vote was preliminary and non-binding as Newsom had delayed his resignation until new members of the Board took office. A final vote was taken on January 11 by the new board to confirm Lee, one day after Newsom's resignation. The board voted unanimously for Lee and he took office immediately thereafter.
As mayor, Lee reached an agreement with the Board of Supervisors to close a $380 million budget deficit.
Lee's term expired in January 2012, at which time the winner of the November 2011 mayoral election would take office. Lee originally pledged not to run in that election. However, some San Francisco political activists – including Rose Pak, consultant for the San Francisco Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Planning Commission President Christina Olague, Assistant District Attorney Victor Hwang, 'Progress for All' chief consultant, Enrique Pearce, and Eddy Zheng, who served time in California Youth Authority and later San Quentin State Prison, for kidnap-robbery charges as a teenager – started a "Run Ed Run" campaign in June 2011 to encourage him to put his name on the ballot. By July 28, Lee stated that he had visited his daughters in Washington state and discussed with them the possibility of his standing for election, but had still not made up his mind. Senator Dianne Feinstein, herself a former appointee mayor who had gone on to win re-election for two terms, publicly supported a Lee candidacy. The San Francisco Chronicle wrote that unnamed city officials close to Lee stated to the media that Lee had "nearly finalized his decision" to run.
On August 7, 2011, Lee formally announced his decision to seek election. He stated that the atmosphere of political cooperation during his months in office had inspired him to run.
Investigations and ethics questions
A week after Lee formally announced his run for Mayor, the United States Attorney's Office reportedly began gathering information about Progress For All, which had organized the "Run, Ed, Run" campaign; local political figures including Superior Court judge Quentin Kopp and Democratic Party chair Aaron Peskin had both requested investigations into Progress For All's conduct. It later emerged that on July 21, city Ethics Commission head John St. Croix requested that Lee file an officeholder and candidate campaign statement, listing "all committees of which you have knowledge that are primarily formed to receive contributions or to make expenditures on behalf of your candidacy". Lee listed the "Run, Ed, Run" campaign on that form at St. Croix's direction. Commentators suggested that this showed Lee's intent to run, more than two weeks in advance of his announcement of his candidacy, raising questions of ethics and campaign finance. However, according to St. Croix, the form must be filed by an incumbent office-holder in advance of an election, regardless of whether the office-holder intends to run.
Tony Winnicker, Lee's campaign manager, stated that speculations of ethical issues were "just another desperate attempt to make something out of nothing by people who would rather attack Mayor Lee than talk about jobs and getting things done for San Francisco".
On October 7, 2011, San Francisco Chronicle revealed that Lee's campaign has accepted suspicious funds from Go Lorrie's Airport Shuttle two weeks after the airport reversed its policy of not assigning vans to designated areas. Lee's staff maintained that the mayor did not play a role in the airport's decision and the campaign has returned the money.
Special interests spent $89,000 to print 50,000 copies of The Ed Lee Story, a mini-bio of Lee's life. Some San Francisco residents questioned this allocation of campaign funds that could have been used more effectively elsewhere. The distribution of this sort of campaign material is unusual in a non-digital medium, where it is easy for a voter to access a politician’s website to obtain information.
Voter fraud and manipulations accusations
In October 2011, seven San Francisco mayoral candidates sent a letter asking Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez and California Secretary of State Debra Bowen to investigate reports that Ed Lee supporters were using stencils, filling-in ballots and collecting voter's ballots for them. The letter was signed by Public Defender Jeff Adachi, County Supervisor John Avalos, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, California State Senator Leland Yee, Michela Alioto-Pier and Joanna Rees. The Lee campaign claimed that the supporter group had nothing to do with the campaign, and indicated that they supported an investigation. Secretary of State Bowen sent election monitors to observe the San Francisco elections.
Lee finished first in the initial balloting with 30.75 percent of the vote. After a series of "instant runoff rounds" allowed under San Francisco's ranked-choice voting, he ended up with 59.64% of the vote.
Suspension of Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi
On March 20, 2012 Mayor Ed Lee gave then elected Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi a 24-hour ultimatum to resign from his post as sheriff following allegations of domestic abuse. On January 13, 2012, Mirkarimi had been charged with domestic violence battery, child endangerment, and dissuading a witness in connection with a New Year's Eve altercation he had with his wife. While jury selection was underway, Mirkarimi entered into a plea agreement with the district attorney, pleading guilty to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment. When Mirkarimi refused to resign, the Mayor suspended him and appointed a temporary replacement, Vicki Hennessy. City Attorney Dennis Herrera crafted the formal complaint and sent it to the city's Ethics Commission and Board of Supervisors who accepted it and then investigated Mirkarimi under misconduct charges as required by the city Charter.
On August 16, the Commission ruled by 4 to 1 that Mirkarimi committed official misconduct by falsely imprisoning his wife. Six of the charges brought by the mayor matched the District Attorney's George Gascón original criminal charges. Five of those were overruled and not sustained, including the charge that Mirkarimi dissuaded witnesses and that he abused the power of his office. On October 9, 2012, four of the eleven San Francisco District Supervisors voted to not support Mayor Lee's removal of Mirkarimi as Sheriff. The Mayor would have needed the votes of nine Board members to remove Mirkarimi.
Awards and honors
In April 2011, Mayor Lee was awarded the inaugural Coro Community Catalyst award for "his longtime commitment to bringing together varied special interests and agendas to address the greater needs of the community".
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