National News

London Breed returns to her roots to celebrate election as S.F. mayor

Posted June 14, 2018 7:03 p.m. EDT

SAN FRANCISCO -- Wearing a mile-wide smile, San Francisco Mayor-elect London Breed breezed across Rosa Parks Elementary School's auditorium stage Thursday to a standing ovation, thunderous applause and the blare of a lone air horn.

After a sometimes-bruising five-month campaign, hundreds of supporters came to hear the first African American woman to be elected mayor of San Francisco deliver her formal victory speech at the Western Addition school she attended more than three decades ago.

The crowd had barely begun to settle into their low-slung folding chairs when Breed, gripping the sides of a lectern littered with TV microphones, said, ``Yes, I'm your mayor,'' sending them back to their feet.

Over the course of her 20-minute address, Breed pledged to ``push the envelope'' and ``make the hard decisions'' needed to address the city's challenges. She also laid out her vision for the next chapter of San Francisco's history, one in which those who need it most can find the support they need.

As she walked the halls of Rosa Parks Elementary, Breed said, she was flooded with memories of her childhood friends, her kindergarten teacher, early mentors, her first fight -- ``yes, I won,'' she said -- and the feelings of being confused by the violence and poverty around her.

She recalled ``really feeling so hopeless, feeling frustrated and not really understanding why there were the gunshots, why the drug dealing ... and all the challenges that existed here.

''I wondered, 'Why me, why my community?' `` said Breed, 43. ''And I never thought the opportunity to be the mayor of the city and county of San Francisco was ever possible. Today, we show the next generation of young people that anything is possible.``

Breed urged her supporters to put the divisiveness of the campaign behind them, saying the city needs to ''come together to solve our most challenging problems.``

The last opponent with a chance of catching Breed in the ranked-choice election, former state Sen. Mark Leno, conceded the race Wednesday. However, Breed won't be able to take office until the election is certified, first by the Department of Elections and then by her colleagues on the Board of Supervisors, where Breed is now president.

At the current rate of vote-counting by elections officials, it's likely the board will give its final sign-off at its July 10 meeting, after which Breed could be sworn in.

As she did during the campaign, Breed said she would make it a priority to deal with the homelessness epidemic, which she juxtaposed against San Francisco's wealth and broad economic vitality. She won applause with her promise to push for reforms to the city's mental health system ''so people we know are struggling on the streets ... can get the help and support they need.``

Breed also said that, as mayor, she would open the nation's first supervised site for the safe use of injection drugs.

''I plan to make that a reality,`` Breed said. ''It's not just about making it easy for people to use drugs. It's about treatment on demand. It's about making sure people have a real chance at getting the help and support they need.``

Breed also said there are too many obstacles to building housing in the city. Her pro-development stance made her a favorite candidate of the politically active YIMBY organization, which advocates for policy changes to make it easier to build housing.

''We have to make changes to our bureaucratic process that gets in the way of building housing in San Francisco,`` Breed said. ''We have to build more housing. We have to build more housing. We have to build more housing.``

One issue she wasn't ready to address was whom she would pick to succeed her as the supervisor for District Five, which includes the Western Addition, Haight-Ashbury and other central neighborhoods. She called it ''a question for another day.``

For her supporters, Thursday was a day to celebrate what Breed has achieved.

''London was born here. She's faithful and true to her city like I am,`` said Barbara Henry, who came to the event dressed in Breed's blue-and-yellow campaign color scheme. ''I don't want to see garbage everywhere, or homeless people laying out on the sidewalk.

``From her heart, she wants to see us build a loving city together.''