Ed Lee (politician)

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Edwin Lee
Mayor Ed Lee closeup.jpg
43rd Mayor of San Francisco
Assumed office
January 11, 2011
Preceded by Gavin Newsom
City Administrator of San Francisco
In office
June 22, 2005 – January 11, 2011
Mayor Gavin Newsom
Succeeded by Naomi M. Kelly
Personal details
Born (1952-05-05) May 5, 1952 (age 63)
Seattle, Washington
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Anita Lee (m. 1980)
Children Brianna Lee
Tania Lee
Residence San Francisco, California
Alma mater Bowdoin College
UC Berkeley School of Law
Profession Attorney
Website www.sfmayor.org
Ed Lee
Traditional Chinese 李孟賢
Simplified Chinese 李孟贤

Edwin Mah "Ed" Lee (Chinese: 李孟賢, born May 5, 1952)[1][2] is the 43rd and current Mayor of San Francisco, California. He was appointed by the Board of Supervisors on January 11, 2011[3] to serve out the remainder of former mayor Gavin Newsom's term, after Newsom resigned to take office as Lieutenant Governor of California.[4] Lee won the election on November 8, 2011 to serve a full term as Mayor.[5] He was re-elected in 2015.[6]

Lee is the first Chinese American mayor in San Francisco's history, as well as the first Asian American elected to the office. Before being appointed mayor, he was City Administrator.[7]

Personal life[edit]

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.[1] Lee's father, Gok Suey Lee, fought in World War II, and worked as a cook managing a restaurant in Seattle.[8] He died when Lee was 15.[8] His mother was a seamstress and waitress.[9] 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.[9]

San Francisco government[edit]

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.[9] 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.[7]

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.[7]

Appointment as mayor[edit]

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.[10] 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 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,[11] 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.[12] 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 whom 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.[13]

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.[9]

2011 election[edit]

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.[14] 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 – started a "Run Ed Run" campaign in June 2011 to encourage him to put his name on the ballot, and he broke his original promise.[15] 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.[16]

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.[13]

Suspension of Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi[edit]

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.[17] While jury selection was underway, Mirkarimi entered into a plea agreement with the district attorney, pleading guilty to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment.[18] 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.[19]

On August 16, the Commission ruled by 4 to 1 that Mirkarimi committed official misconduct by falsely imprisoning his wife.[20] 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.[21] 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.[22][23]


During his first campaign for mayor, in 2011, Superior Court judge Quentin Kopp and Democratic Party chair Aaron Peskin requested the United States Attorney's Office investigate the conduct of the group 'Progress For All', which had organized the "Run, Ed, Run" campaign.[2] Additionally, seven San Francisco mayoral candidates, including 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, signed 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.[3] The Lee campaign claimed that the supporter group was unrelated to the campaign, and indicated that they supported an investigation.[4]

In January 2016, three former fundraisers for Lee who worked together in the spring of 2012 to raise money to retire Lee’s campaign debt from the 2011 mayoral race, were charged by the San Francisco DA with bribery and money laundering after the crimes were publicly exposed in the federal investigation of Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow.[24] Chow's lawyer, Curtis L. Briggs, accused U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer of shielding Lee by withholding documents and secret recordings of the mayor from the court. Briggs said that because Judge Breyer's wife was a recipient of city funds, through a department controlled by Lee, Breyer had an unavoidable conflict of interest in the case.[25]

2015 re-election[edit]

Lee was re-elected in 2015 with 56 percent of the vote; his closest challenger received 14 percent of the vote.[6]

Awards and honors[edit]

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".[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Shih, Gerry (January 15, 2011), "Mayor Lee Leads Growing Asian-American Clout", The New York Times, retrieved 2011-09-11 
  2. ^ a b Dalton, Andrew (May 11, 2011), "Board of Supervisors Weekly Power Rankings", SFist, retrieved 2011-09-11 
  3. ^ a b Coté, John (January 11, 2011), "Ed Lee becomes the city's first Chinese American mayor", San Francisco Chronicle, retrieved 2011-09-11 
  4. ^ a b Coté, John; Gordon, Rachel (January 11, 2011), "Gavin Newsom changes offices at last", San Francisco Chronicle, retrieved 2011-09-11 
  5. ^ Jim Christie (November 9, 2011). "Ed Lee wins San Francisco mayor's race". Reuters. Retrieved November 10, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Wildermuth, John (November 4, 2015) "S.F. Mayor Ed Lee easily re-elected to 2nd 4-year term." San Francisco Chronicle. (Retrieved 12-2-2015).
  7. ^ a b c Edwin M. Lee – Biography, Government Services Agency, City and County of San Francisco, archived from the original on February 8, 2011, retrieved 2011-09-11 
  8. ^ a b Heather Knight (August 29, 2011), Mayor Ed Lee: What's in a name?, SF Gate 2011, retrieved 2011-09-28 
  9. ^ a b c d , Ed Lee for Mayor 2011 http://www.mayoredlee.com/ed, retrieved 2011-09-25  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ San Francisco, California Charter Article XIII: Elections
  11. ^ "Editorial: Newsom's delayed departure brings out supes' worst", San Francisco Chronicle, January 6, 2011, retrieved 2011-09-11 
  12. ^ Gordon, Rachel (January 7, 2011), "Supervisors vote 10–1 to make Ed Lee Mayor", San Francisco Chronicle, retrieved 2011-09-11 
  13. ^ a b Coté, John (August 8, 2011), "SF Mayor Ed Lee changes mind, will seek full term", San Francisco Chronicle, retrieved 2011-09-11 
  14. ^ Coté, John (June 27, 2011), "SF Mayor Ed Lee pledges new political era", San Francisco Chronicle 
  15. ^ Matier, Phillip; Ross, Andrew (June 26, 2011), "Ed Lee's backers face questions of disclosure", San Francisco Chronicle, retrieved 2011-07-06 
  16. ^ Coté, John (July 28, 2011), "Sources say Ed Lee leaning toward run for SF mayor", San Francisco Chronicle, retrieved 2011-09-11 
  17. ^ Richmond, Josh (January 13, 2012) "San Francisco sheriff Ross Mirkarimi to face misdemeanor charges." San Jose Mercury News.
  18. ^ San Francisco Chronicle March 20, 2012 Mayor says he'll suspend Mirkarimi
  19. ^ Sulek, Julia Prolis (March 20, 2012) "San Francisco Mayor Lee suspends embattled Sheriff Mirkarimi." San Jose Mercury News. (Retrieved April 13, 2012.)
  20. ^ Associated Press (August 16, 2012) "San Francisco: Panel Says Embattled Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi Committed Misconduct." San Jose Mercury News.
  21. ^ Wright, Andy (August 16, 2012) "Ethics panel upholds official misconduct charges against Mirkarimi." Bay Citizen.
  22. ^ (October 9, 2012) "Mirkarimi apparently has enough votes to keep his job." San Francisco Chronicle. (Retrieved October 9, 2012.)
  23. ^ Knight, Heather and Coté, John (October 9, 2012) "Ross Mirkarimi to keep job, supes decide." San Francisco Chronicle. (Retrieved October 9, 2012.)
  24. ^ http://ww2.kqed.org/news/2016/01/22/3-former-fundraisers-for-mayor-ed-lee-indicted-on-bribery-money-laundering-charges
  25. ^ http://sfpublicpress.org/news/2016-01/shrimp-boy-lawyer-claims-judge-shielded-san-francisco-mayor-in-corruption-probe
  26. ^ 16th Annual Leadership Luncheon, San Francisco: Coro Center for Civic Leadership, April 29, 2011, retrieved 2011-09-11 

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