San Francisco’s Mayor Ed Lee, most recently known for embracing the “sanctuary city” label, has died at age 65. Lee was not known to be ill; he reportedly died at a San Francisco hospital in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Member station KQED cites a statement from the mayor’s office, saying he died at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital:
“Lee, the city’s 43rd mayor, died at 1:11 a.m. as relatives, friends and colleagues were at his side, according to a statement from the mayor’s office.
” ‘Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Anita, his two daughters, Brianna and Tania, and his family,’ the statement reads.”
No cause of death was mentioned; KQED reports that Lee collapsed while shopping at a Safeway grocery store Monday night.
Edwin Lee entered city government after a career as a tenants’ rights lawyer, working to preserve low-cost housing in the 1980s and to tackle civil rights issues. He served as San Francisco’s mayor after being appointed to the post in 2011, when he replaced the outgoing Gavin Newsom, who became lieutenant governor. At the time, Lee was a relatively unknown city administrator who said he thought he would be in the job for only a year — despite getting unanimous support from San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors.
Lee then won elections in 2011 and 2015. His term in office was to run to 2020.
“Lee promoted policies to lure high tech companies from Silicon Valley to San Francisco,” NPR’s Richard Gonzales reports. “And like his many predecessors, he was bedeviled by the seemingly intractable issue of homelessness in the city.”
When he was elected in the fall of 2011, Lee “made history by becoming the city’s first elected Asian-American mayor,” KQED noted.
With Lee’s death, London Breed, the president of the Board of Supervisors, becomes acting mayor, according to the city’s charter. She becomes the first African-American woman to lead the city, and the second woman.
In 1978, Sen. Dianne Feinstein became San Francisco’s mayor in the wake of the assassination of Mayor George Moscone. Like Breed, Feinstein had been the president of the Board of Supervisors; she held the mayor’s office for nearly 10 years.