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San Francisco Elects First Black Woman Mayor; Gay Candidate Concedes

London Breed and Mark Leno
From left: London Breed and Mark Leno

Mark Leno would have been the city's first gay mayor, but London Breed makes history as its first African-American woman mayor.

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San Francisco has elected its firs black woman mayor, London Breed, with gay candidate Mark Leno conceding defeat Wednesday.

Breed, who has been president of the city's Board of Supervisors, held a lead of 1,861 votes over Leno Tuesday with about 9,360 votes remaining to be counter, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Leno, a former supervisor and California's first out gay male state senator, held a narrow lead election night, June 5, but Breed overtook him shortly thereafter.

"I called Supervisor London Breed this morning to congratulate her on her victory and to wish her every success -- personally and professionally -- in her new job as mayor of San Francisco," Leno said in a news conference today, according to the Chronicle.

"She is a remarkable young woman and she is going to do a very fine job and we wish her all the best, because her success is San Francisco's success," he added. Breed was scheduled to hold a news conference this afternoon.

Breed succeeds Mayor Ed Lee, who died in December. She briefly served as interim mayor before the board replaced her with another supervisor, Mark Farrell.

Elections in the heavily Democratic city are officially nonpartisan. It uses a ranked-choice voting system, in which voters select their top three favorites and the candidates with the lowest number of votes are eliminated over several rounds until a winner emerges.

Three candidates in the race stood to make history -- Breed as the first African-American woman mayor, Leno as the first gay mayor, and Jane Kim as the first Asian-American woman mayor.

Breed grew up in a San Francisco housing project. "I am from the 'hood," she told the Chronicle in 2012. "I spent more than half my life in what was considered the worst public housing in the city. Taxis wouldn't come there. People wouldn't come to my house. I saw my first homicide when I was 12."

San Francisco's low- and middle-income residents have suffered from a lack of affordable housing in recent years, and Breed made addressing this crisis a major point of her mayoral campaign. The median price of a single-family home in the city is $1.6 million.

Equality California, which had supported Leno, congratulated Breed on her victory. "San Franciscans made history this year, electing the first woman of color to ever serve as the city's mayor," said a statement released by executive director Rick Zbur. "While our friend Mark Leno ultimately came up short, he ran a strong race and will forever be a hero to the LGBTQ community in San Francisco -- the cradle of the LGBTQ civil rights movement -- and across our state. Indeed, many of the critical protections that LGBTQ Californians enjoy today are thanks to his dedicated leadership."

"Although we are disappointed that we weren't able to shatter City Hall's rainbow glass ceiling this year, Equality California congratulates Mayor-Elect Breed, who has been a strong and effective advocate for equality and social justice, and we look forward to working with her administration to create a City of San Francisco and State of California that are healthy, just and fully equal for all LGBTQ people," Zbur concluded.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.