The first black female mayor of San Francisco made history Wednesday as she took the oath of office and outlined an ambitious to-do list to make a city known for immense wealth but also homelessness more prosperous for all.
In her inauguration speech, London Breed promised to build more housing in a city that has a woefully inadequate supply for the number of high-paying tech-related jobs it creates. She pledged to address climate change, reform education and improve public transportation.
“We have to do all of these things,” Breed said outside City Hall before at least 1,000 spectators. “We have to support our small businesses, we have to keep our communities safe, we have to continue to move San Francisco forward, but doing everything we can not to leave one San Franciscan behind.”
Breed, 43, vowed to stand by immigrants fearing crackdowns from President Donald Trump’s administration and to help drug addicts languishing on city streets, unable to get the aid they need.
The new mayor grew up in public housing in the city and frequently talks about the tough love and support she received, especially from a grandmother who raised her but also teachers and civic leaders who spotted her potential.
She promised to pay that forward, with opportunities for every child to get paid internships and job training so they also can be part of the city’s promising future.
“I stand at this podium today because a community believed in me. Because our city services looked out for me,” Breed said. “Here in the city of St. Francis, we support one another.”
After California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom administered the oath of office on the steps of City Hall, a line of well-wishers snaked outside the mayor’s office for a quick meet-and-greet with Breed.
An 8-year-old girl named after the new mayor said she had no idea what she would say when she met her namesake. London Pierce also disputed she was named for Breed, but her aunt quickly corrected her.
“I’m going to say we’re very proud that she represents all the communities of San Francisco,” said Shari Taylor, Pierce’s aunt and a teacher. “It is an awesome day.”
The reception line is a tradition that started in 1916 with Mayor James “Sunny Jim” Rolph Jr. inside a newly completed City Hall, said Bill Barnes, spokesman for the city administrator’s office. The old building had been destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire.
Breed is only the second woman to serve as mayor. The first was U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who welcomed Breed in a video message.
“I know you have the passion, determination and grit to address our city’s problems and take us to new heights,” Feinstein said.
Breed is a Democrat, as is just about everybody in public office in San Francisco, which has a population of 870,000 and is about 6 percent black, one of the smallest percentages among major U.S. cities.
She succeeds Mayor Ed Lee, whose unexpected death in December prompted a special June election to serve the remainder of his term. She must run again in November 2019 if she wants a full four-year term.
Breed was most recently president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. As mayor, she will earn an annual salary of $335,996.
Source: Associated Press