Mayor of San Francisco
|Mayor of the
City and County of
Flag of San Francisco, California
|Term length||Four years, renewable once|
|Inaugural holder||John W. Geary|
|Website||Office of the Mayor|
The Mayor of the City and County of San Francisco is the head of the executive branch of the San Francisco city and county government. The mayor has the duty to enforce city laws, and the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the legislative branch. The mayor serves a four-year term and is limited to two successive terms. Because of San Francisco's status as a consolidated city–county, the mayor also serves as the head of government of the county; both entities have been governed together by a combined set of governing bodies since 1856.
There have been 42 individuals sworn into office. John W. Geary, elected in 1850, was the first mayor of the city. Charles James Brenham, who served as mayor during the 1850s, is the only person who has served two non-consecutive terms. The previous mayor, Gavin Newsom resigned to become the Lieutenant Governor of California on January 10, 2011. Ed Lee was appointed by the Board of Supervisors on the following day to finish out Newsom's term. Lee was elected to his own term on November 8, 2011
The mayor of San Francisco is elected every four years; elections take place one year before United States presidential elections on election day in November. Candidates must live and be registered to vote in San Francisco at the time of the election. The mayor is usually sworn in on the January 8 following the election. The next election for the mayor will be in 2015.
Under the California constitution, all city elections in the state are conducted on a non-partisan basis. As a result, candidates' party affiliations are not listed on the ballot, and multiple candidates from a single party can run in the election since a primary election is not held.
Mayoral elections were originally run under a two-round system. If no candidate received a simple majority of votes in the general election, the two candidates who received the most votes competed in a second runoff election held several weeks later. In 2002, the election system for city officials was overhauled as a result of a citywide referendum. The new system, known as instant-runoff voting, allows voters to select and rank three candidates based on their preferences. If no one wins more than half of the first-choice votes, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and second-choice votes (and third-choice votes, if necessary) are counted until a candidate captures the majority. This eliminates the need to hold a separate runoff election and saves money. This was first implemented in the 2004 Board of Supervisors election after two years of preparation. In 2007, the new system was implemented in the mayoral election for the first time.
Duties and powers 
The mayor has the responsibility to enforce all city laws, administer and coordinate city departments and intergovernmental activities, set forth policies and agendas to the Board of Supervisors, and prepare and submit the city budget at the end of each fiscal year. The mayor has the powers to either approve or veto bills passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, participate in meetings of the Board of Supervisors and its committees, appoint a replacement to fill vacancies in all city elected offices until elections, appoint a member of the Board as acting mayor in his/her absence, and to direct personnels in the case of emergency.
If the mayor dies in office, resigns, or is unable to carry out his/her duties and he/she did not designate an acting mayor, the president of the Board of Supervisors becomes acting mayor until the full Board select a person to fill the vacancy and finish the previous mayoral term. (In the case that both the president of the Board of Supervisors and the mayor are incapacitated, the order of succession is followed.) This has happened four times: James Otis died in office and was succeeded by George Hewston,[a] James Rolph resigned and was succeeded by Angelo Rossi,[c] George Moscone was assassinated and was succeeded by Dianne Feinstein,[d] and Gavin Newsom resigned and was succeeded by Ed Lee.[e]
To date, 42 individuals have served as mayor. There have been 43 mayoralties due to Charles James Brenham's serving two non-consecutive terms: he is counted chronologically as both the second and fourth mayor. The longest term was that of James Rolph, who served over 18 years until his resignation to become the California governor. The length of his tenure as mayor was largely due to his popularity. During his term, San Francisco saw the expansion of its transit system, the construction of the Civic Center and the hosting of the World's Fair. The shortest term was that of Charles Boxton, who served only eight days before resigning from office. Two mayors have died in office: Otis died from illness and Moscone was assassinated. Dianne Feinstein is the only woman, Willie Brown is the only African American, and Ed Lee is the only Asian American to have served as mayor.
Eleven mayors are native San Franciscans: Levi Richard Ellert, James D. Phelan, Eugene Schmitz, James Rolph, Elmer Robinson, John Shelley, Joseph Alioto, George Moscone, Dianne Feinstein, Frank Jordan and Gavin Newsom. Four mayors are foreign-born: Frank McCoppin and P. H. McCarthy (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, present-day Republic of Ireland), Adolph Sutro (Prussia, present-day Germany) and George Christopher (Greece).
This list does not include all acting mayors, of which there have been many, as an acting mayor is typically appointed by the mayor whenever he or she will be out of the city.
|#||Mayor||Term start||Term end|
|1||John W. Geary||May 1, 1850||May 4, 1851||No party|
|2||Charles James Brenham||May 5, 1851||December 31, 1851||Whig|
|3||Stephen Randall Harris||January 1, 1852||November 9, 1852||Democratic|
|4||Charles James Brenham||November 10, 1852||October 2, 1853||Whig|
|5||Cornelius Kingsland Garrison||October 3, 1853||October 1, 1854||Whig|
|6||Stephen Palfrey Webb||October 2, 1854||June 30, 1855||Know Nothing|
|7||James Van Ness||July 1, 1855||July 7, 1856||Democratic|
|8||George J. Whelan||July 8, 1856||November 14, 1856||American|
|9||Ephraim Willard Burr||November 15, 1856||October 2, 1859||American|
|10||Henry F. Teschemacher||October 3, 1859||June 30, 1863||Vigilance People's|
|11||Henry Perrin Coon||July 1, 1863||December 1, 1867||Vigilance People's|
|12||Frank McCoppin||December 2, 1867||December 5, 1869||Democratic|
|13||Thomas Henry Selby||December 6, 1869||December 3, 1871||Republican|
|14||William Alvord||December 4, 1871||November 30, 1873||Republican|
|15||James Otis[a]||December 1, 1873||October 30, 1875||Populist|
|16||George Hewston[a]||November 4, 1875||December 5, 1875||Democratic|
|17||Andrew Jackson Bryant||December 6, 1875||November 30, 1879||Populist|
|18||Isaac Smith Kalloch||December 1, 1879||December 4, 1881||Democratic|
|19||Maurice Carey Blake||December 5, 1881||January 7, 1883||Republican|
|20||Washington Bartlett||January 8, 1883||January 2, 1887||Democratic|
|21||Edward B. Pond||January 3, 1887||January 4, 1891||Democratic|
|22||George Henry Sanderson||January 5, 1891||January 3, 1893||Republican|
|23||Levi Richard Ellert||January 3, 1893||January 6, 1895||Republican|
|24||Adolph Sutro||January 7, 1895||January 3, 1897||Populist|
|25||James D. Phelan||January 4, 1897||January 7, 1902||Democratic|
|26||Eugene Schmitz[b]||January 8, 1902||July 8, 1907||Union Labor|
|27||Charles Boxton[b]||July 9, 1907||July 16, 1907||Union Labor|
|28||Edward Robeson Taylor[b]||July 16, 1907||January 7, 1910||Democratic|
|29||P. H. McCarthy||January 8, 1910||January 7, 1912||Union Labor|
|30||James Rolph[c]||January 8, 1912||January 6, 1931||Republican|
|31||Angelo Joseph Rossi[c]||January 7, 1931||January 7, 1944||Republican|
|32||Roger Lapham||January 8, 1944||January 7, 1948||Republican|
|33||Elmer Robinson||January 8, 1948||January 7, 1956||Republican|
|34||George Christopher||January 8, 1956||January 7, 1964||Republican|
|35||John Shelley||January 8, 1964||January 7, 1968||Democratic|
|36||Joseph Alioto||January 8, 1968||January 7, 1976||Democratic|
|37||George Moscone[d]||January 8, 1976||November 27, 1978||Democratic|
|38||Dianne Feinstein[d]||December 4, 1978||January 7, 1988||Democratic|
|39||Art Agnos||January 8, 1988||January 7, 1992||Democratic|
|40||Frank Jordan||January 8, 1992||January 7, 1996||Democratic|
|41||Willie Brown||January 8, 1996||January 7, 2004||Democratic|
|42||Gavin Newsom[e]||January 8, 2004||January 10, 2011||Democratic|
|43||Ed Lee[e]||January 11, 2011||incumbent||Democratic|
Other offices held 
The following is a list of congressional, gubernatorial and other offices held by mayors, before or after their term(s).
- * Denotes those offices which the mayor resigned to take
Living former mayors 
As of December 2012, five former mayors are alive, the oldest being Dianne Feinstein (1978–1988; born 1933). The most recent mayor to die is George Christopher (1956–1964; born 1907), on September 14, 2000.
|Mayor||Mayoral term||Date of birth|
|Dianne Feinstein||1978–1988||June 22, 1933 (age 79)|
|Art Agnos||1988–1992||September 1, 1938 (age 74)|
|Frank Jordan||1992–1996||February 20, 1935 (age 78)|
|Willie Brown||1996–2004||March 20, 1934 (age 79)|
|Gavin Newsom||2004–2011||October 10, 1967 (age 45)|
- a In 1875, James Otis died of diphtheria during his tenure as mayor. Supervisor George Hewston became acting mayor until Andrew Bryant was elected to the office.
- b In July 1907, Eugene Schmitz was convicted of extortion and sentenced to 5 years in prison. The Board of Supervisors replaced Schmitz with Supervisor Charles Boxton who had also taken bribes. Boxton served for eight days before he resigned. The Board then replaced Boxton with Edward Taylor.
- c James Rolph resigned to become the Governor of California in 1931. The Board replaced Rolph with Angelo Rossi.
- d On November 27, 1978, George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were assassinated by former Supervisor Dan White. Supervisor and Board President Dianne Feinstein was named acting mayor. She served the remainder of Moscone's term and was subsequently re-elected twice.
- e Gavin Newsom resigned to become the Lieutenant Governor of California on January 10, 2011. Supervisor and Board President David Chiu briefly served as acting mayor until city administrator Ed Lee was unanimously appointed on the following day by the Board to finish out Newsom's term.
- "San Francisco Mayors". City and County of San Francisco. Retrieved March 11, 2009.
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- "City and County of San Francisco Municipal Code". City and County of San Francisco. 1996. Retrieved March 11, 2009.
- City and County of San Francisco Municipal Code art. III
- Coy, Owen Cochran (1919). Guide to the County Archives of California. Sacramento, California: California Historical Survey Commission. p. 409.
- California Constitution art. II, § 6 (a)
- Gordon, Rachel (August 21, 2003). "Judge denies instant election runoff". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Communications Inc. Archived from the original on December 1, 2010. Retrieved June 29, 2009.
- Murphy, Dean E. (September 30, 2004). "New Runoff System in San Francisco Has the Rival Candidates Cooperating". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved June 26, 2009.
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- City and County of San Francisco Municipal Code art. XIII § 101.5
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- Hittell, Theodore Henry (1897). History of California. N.J. Stone & co. pp. 709–710.
- "Phelan, James Duval, (1861–1930)". United States Congress. Retrieved March 12, 2009.
- "Shelley, John Francis, (1905–1974)". United States Congress. Retrieved March 12, 2009.
- Sward, Susan (November 26, 1998). "Moscone's Time Was Anything But Quiet". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Communications Inc. Archived from the original on December 1, 2010. Retrieved March 12, 2009.
- "Feinstein, Dianne, (1933 – )". United States Congress. Retrieved March 12, 2009.
- St. John, Kelly (June 7, 2001). "Mary C. Agnos – son was S.F. mayor". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Communications Inc. Archived from the original on December 1, 2010. Retrieved March 13, 2009.
- Gordon, Rachel (May 31, 1995). "Agnos begs off Senate bid". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Communications Inc. Archived from the original on December 1, 2010. Retrieved March 13, 2009.
- Gordon, Rachel (January 4, 2004). "The Mayor's Legacy: Willie Brown". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Communications Inc. Archived from the original on December 1, 2010. Retrieved March 13, 2009.
- York, Anthony (November 3, 2010). "Gavin Newsom elected California lieutenant governor". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 3, 2010.
- Egan, Ferol (1998). Last bonanza kings: the Bourns of San Francisco. University of Nevada Press. pp. 168–169. ISBN 0-87417-319-1.
- Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences. California Academy of Sciences. 1893. p. 365.
- Bean, Walton (1952). Boss Ruef's San Francisco: the story of the Union Labor Party, big business, and the graft prosecution. University of California Press. pp. 227–230. ISBN 0-520-00094-3.
- Nolte, Carl (November 6, 2007). "Exhibition spotlights career of 'totally forgotten mayor' Taylor". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Communications Inc. Archived from the original on December 1, 2010. Retrieved March 13, 2009.
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- Gordon, Rachel (November 26, 2008). "Feinstein recalls S.F.'s 'day of infamy'". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Communications Inc. Archived from the original on December 1, 2010. Retrieved March 14, 2009.
- "Ed Lee becomes the city's first Chinese American mayor". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Communications Inc. January 11, 2011. Retrieved January 11, 2011.