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Ed Lee (politician)

Edwin Lee
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
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 .org.sfmayorwww
Ed Lee
Traditional Chinese 李孟賢
Simplified Chinese 李孟贤

Edwin Mah 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] At the time of his appointment, Lee pledged not to run for the office which was a condition of his appointment, but that promise was not fulfilled, Lee "changed his mind",[5] as he later announced his candidacy. Lee won the election on November 8, 2011 to serve a full term as Mayor.[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 1
  • San Francisco government 2
  • Appointment as mayor 3
  • 2011 election 4
  • Suspension of Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi 5
  • Awards and honors 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Personal life

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

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

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

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

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

  • Media related to Edwin M. Lee at Wikimedia Commons
  • Official website
  • Campaign website

External links

  1. ^ a b
  2. ^
  3. ^
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  7. ^ a b c
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ a b c d
  10. ^ San Francisco, California Charter Article XIII: Elections
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  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. ^


See also

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".[24]

Awards and honors

[23][22] 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.[21]

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